Photo Courtesy of Mojave Aerospace Ventures LLC
(shown here on the right, Paul Allen on the left)
AN AMERICAN AEROSPACE ENGINEERING GENIUS
Elbert Leander "Burt" Rutan was born June 17, 1943, in Esracada , Oregon , which is 30 miles southeast of Portland . At eight years of age, he was already designing and building model aircraft. His first solo flight in an airplane was at age 16. He graduated third in his class from California Polytechnic University in 1965 and went to work as a flight test engineer for the United States Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base.
Rutan struck out on his own by creating the Rutan Aircraft Factory in 1974 in the Mojave Desert . He designed and developed many aircraft for the home-built market, such as the VariViggen, the VariEze, and the LongEze. All of these designs featured a rear wing, a forward-mounted stabilizer/ elevator known as a "canard," and a pusher propeller configuration. This unusual design became Rutan’s "signature" in the aircraft industry. His success with the home-built market led to the founding of new California company known as Scaled Composites in 1982. Later, in 2006, it was changed to Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC.
One of Burt’s greatest achievements was the creation of the now-famous Voyager aircraft. Burt’s brother, Richard, and his co-pilot, Jeanna Yeager, flew this graceful aircraft around the world, without refueling, for a record-breaking, nine-day, non-stop flight. The airplane now hangs in the "Milestones of Flight" exhibit of the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
On June 21, 2004, Burt made headlines again with an aerospace craft called Space Ship One, which was the first privately built, and flown, rocket-powered aircraft to reach space. Later, on October 4th of that year, Space Ship One completed 2 more flights within a two week time window, flying with the equivalent weight of 3 persons and reusing 80% of its original vehicle hardware. These two flights earned the Ansari X-Prize award of $10,000,000. This achievement also broke the North American X-15’s altitude record by climbing to a height of 71.5 miles.
The X-Prize was launched to promote civilian spaceflight ventures. With that in mind, Burt Rutan designed Space Ship Two for billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, which announced that it will began space tourism flights in 2008. Production of five aerospace vehicles has already started and after testing, the first six paying-passengers are expected to be carried into space in 2009. Burt Rutan is recognized, by the aerospace industry as one of America ’s greatest engineers and designers. His work has advanced America ’s lead in aerospace technology by years ahead of the rest of the world.
Younger youth. Burt Rutan has built his reputation on "getting high," — high into space, that is. And he’s done it without smoking marijuana, or abusing alcohol or drugs. His Voyager and Space Ship One craft have set global records still to be broken, and his achievements are hallmarks in the annals of manned space flight history. One can only wonder at what new records he is yet to establish— and no doubt he would be the first to tell you that he does it all without drugs or alcohol. Who knows — there might be another Dick Rutan sitting in this room today. Should it be you, would you want to jeopardize your future potential and achievement with alcohol or drug abuse? Burt Rutan’s advice would without doubt be: Drug-free! Way to be!
Older youth. The X-15 was an incredible aircraft, capable of flight accomplishments unimagined by many, and characterized most often by imaginary craft illustrated only in comic books and science fiction movies. Even so, the plane was very real, and the pilots who flew it were repeatedly setting secret performance records in speed and altitude considered unachievable at the time. Imagine then, that someone might come along with radical aerospace engineering ideas for aircraft that could exceed even X-15 capabilities. Burt Rutan is just such an individual. Not only did he have such ideas, he was able to put those ideas into motion by building not one but several record-setting and trend-breaking craft capable of carrying humans into space. In the very near future, it will likely be possible to board a plane designed by Burt Rutan and travel through space, above the Earth’s atmosphere, to arrive at a location on the opposite side of the globe in record-shattering time!
Burt Rutan is certainly intelligent and he knows how to put his intellect to good use. He does not have the time or the desire to smoke marijuana, or to abuse drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine. He knows full well the terrible risks he would be taking by suffering possibly severe and life-long brain damage from such irresponsible and self-destructive behavior. No doubt we have yet to see much more of Burt’s inventive and creative mind and the significant benefits and advances in aerospace technology that will result—no place here for drugs or alcohol abuse. Burt Rutan would tell you from first hand experience: Drug-free! Way to be!
SpaceShip One Returns After A Successful Flight into Space
Photo Courtesy of Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC.
This curriculum is sponsored by the Drug Demand Reduction
Program of the Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters
Maxwell AFB, Alabama
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