The Awesome Airplanes of Burt Rutan

Great photo collection of Burt Rutan-designed planes by Flying Magazine.

He favored composites since he could mfg. prototypes almost 10x faster than metal or wood.

Northrop Grumman bought his company, Scaled Composites. This is his Firebird H03 Observation plane.



Rutan Model 401 (Photo 2019)

All of his designs appear to be subsonic, which allows non-exotic composites to be used in wing and fuselage design without concern for high skin temperatures.

(SpaceX just replaced carbon fiber with stainless steel in their “Starship” vehicle for that reason. I’m not sure how they went down that blind alley, in 2018 no less.)

One of the prototypes is the Stratolaunch, the world’s largest airplane:



Stratolaunch satellite launch plane (Photo 2019)

One of the nice things about composites is that they’re hail-resistant (small hailstones just rebound) unlike painted aluminum. However, it takes discipline to realize weight savings over metal for structural-related components, and long-term maintenance of composites is still an open question.

yt: Turbofan Killer Bee: Rutan ARES “Mudfighter” for U.S. Army Close Air Support

W: Burt Rutan, Stratolaunch
Composites: Tips for working on Cirrus composite structures
A Hailstorm Completely Obliterated This American Airlines Plane
Preparing for hail season
avweb.com: ‘Secret’ Model 401 Airplane Stops At FBO
thedrive.com: Scaled Composites’ Stealthy Mystery Jet Is Now At The Navy’s Top Flight Test Base
In California, giant Stratolaunch jet flies for first time HN
The world’s largest airplane is up for sale for $400 million
avweb.com: Stratolaunch Price Tag $400,000,000

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