The Wright Bros. would have been blown away...
How could anyone dispute the claim that Burt Rutan is our time’s most prolific aircraft designer? The story of his life proves he is the King of thinking outside the aerospace box, and when you look at the list of flying machines his fertile mind has created, you start to wonder if this guy ever sleeps.
I had the golden opportunity to hear Rutan speak this year at an University of Oregon lecture, immediately following his record-setting effort to claim the X-Prize with SpaceShipOne. What he said was right on, I believe:
In short, he said that historically, aviation has seen a major design development about every 25-30 years or so. After the Wright’s started the ball rolling in 1903, the invention of the DC-3 in the 30s gave birth to commercial aviation as we know it. Aviation technology again leaped ahead in the 50’s with jet airliners, and again in the 70s with the debut of the Boeing 747.According to Rutan, the Concorde was supposed to be the “next big thing”, but that did not come to pass. Therefore, he says aviation is overdue for the next leap, and he is happy to report that private space travel will be the result. He and Sir Richard Branson are on the cutting edge of developing space airliners that will change everything in our aviation world.
It is hard to find a more interesting person in aviation right now than Burt Rutan. I invite you to visit his Scaled Composites website and learn more about a guy who I believe would have really fascinated Orville and Wilbur Wright.