Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Burt Rutan Retires From Scaled Composites

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the forged-his-own-wings dept.

Transportation 87

hondo77 writes "Lost in all of the April Fool's Day fun was the news that Burt Rutan retired on April 1. 'Five of his planes now hang in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, including the Voyager, which in 1986 became the first airplane to fly around the world without refueling, and SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first private rocket plane ever to put a man into space.' Enjoy your retirement, Burt. You've earned it." Watching SpaceShipOne fly in 2004 is one of the happiest memories of my life. Thanks, Mr. Rutan.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

your life must not be very happy then (-1, Offtopic)

circus29 (1978112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694074)

nt

First retirement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694080)

This has to fly.

Bummer... (1)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694118)

Well deserved with all he's done but I don't think the place will be the same without him. I hope he's just resting and not done but if he is the rest is well earned.

Regardless good luck Burt!

Where is my flying car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694132)

I demand a flying car! I was promised a flying car!

There are few aircraft designers left (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694206)

Few people working today have actually designed a high performance airplane. Ben Rich, who ran the Lockheed Skunk Works and designed the propulsion system for the SR-71, wrote on his retirement that he worked on 26 airplanes during his career, but today's aircraft designer would be lucky to work on one.

For the first time since WWII, the USAF no longer has a new fighter plane in development. If and when it becomes necessary to design one, who will know how? Nobody will have the practical experience to get it right.

Rutan was one of the few people who consistently got exotic designs right. He will be tough to replace.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694310)

Except for the F-35.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694332)

Which is pretty much done with development, the key word in that sentence.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694340)

"For the first time since WWII, the USAF no longer has a new fighter plane in development."

Apparently it didn't occur to you that there are strong practical reason why this is the case.

If you knew as much about the subject at hand as you pretend to know, you would know that fighter planes are not
a cost-effective solution any more. The age of fighter planes is in the past. The future belongs to missiles,
drones, and unmanned aircraft in general. Dogfighting is a thing of the past, and you don't need a pilot to
guide a plane which carries missiles.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (0, Flamebait)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694434)

That was said every time a new fighter plane development was completed.

Not that I am complaining, I would be delighted to see US with a military that is only useful for assassinations and civilian massacres a.k.a. "fighting terrorism".

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35697818)

Yes, instead you should want China to be the only nation on this planet with the ability to wipe out the west, and will have little issue with DOING so. Funny thing is, that right after WWI, we had so many pacifist that wanted the USA to stay out of wars by disarming. And we did.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35699690)

Absolutely!

I am not an American, and therefore have absolutely no obligation to support US attempts to conquer the world.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35708884)

You OK with China's rulers controlling your nation? That is where you are headed. And keep in mind that they will make Europe's onetime rule of the world look positively decent.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35709908)

Which nation? China already has more control over US than US government itself. And I, being neither American nor Chinese, don't care about that particular aspect.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35740476)

If you do not mind my asking, what nationality are you?

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (2)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35696176)

"Dogfighting is a thing of the past, and you don't need a pilot to
guide a plane which carries missiles."

Write in indelible ink on you forehead, "I r ignorant of history"

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694476)

For the first time since WWII, the USAF no longer has a new fighter plane in development. If and when it becomes necessary to design one, who will know how? Nobody will have the practical experience to get it right.

That's kind of a weird statement. As systems become more complex the need for specialists increases. Sure, you won't find a Rutan involved in total design, but that's because it's becoming impossible to actually know this much about modern aeronautics.

To bring it back home, would you expect Dennis Ritchie to be able to fabricate a modern GPU in his garage?

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (3, Funny)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694494)

"To bring it back home, would you expect Dennis Ritchie to be able to fabricate a modern GPU in his garage?"

Yes. Yes I would.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35695926)

They have pretty much reached the pinnacle of manned fighter jet design, the future is remote drones. Unmanned vehicles are cheaper, require less support in the form of maintenance, aircraft carriers, fuel efficiency, and pilot lives. The current F22 and F35 airframes already leave a fair amount of performance on the table because of the limits of a human pilot. So unless someone comes up with an inertial compensating system we have reached the point where the fighter jet technology has surpassed our ability to use it.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35696182)

All fine and good. Until you lose the signal. NOTHING can replace a set of eyeballs in the cockpit.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 3 years ago | (#35697102)

Can't stop the signal, Mal.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35697634)

All fine and good. Until you lose the signal. NOTHING can replace a set of eyeballs in the cockpit.

I see your squishy, fluid-filled organic imaging devices and raise you two megapixels...

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35696352)

In that regard (inertia) we've already surpassed it with the current generation F-15s, F-16s, and F-18s already in use. (Not to mention their European and Russian counterparts.) All of those aircraft are capable of pulling G's that will quickly black-out a pilot without adequate training. And even with training, there's still an upper limit and a restriction on how long a maneuver can be held. If you took out the pilot and put a robot in control, those aircraft still have a reasonable amount of unused flight envelope that could be explored and put to use.

The only reasons why drones aren't used for fighters yet are latency/bandwidth issues and keeping the signal from being jammed. AI isn't quite at the point where it can be trusted to deal with multiple tasks within a single sortie, which is why it's only used for vehicles with single-task objectives (cruise missiles.) Once we get a decent enough AI that can adapt on a mission and cover flying without a constant contact signal, the fighter jockeys may be relegated to hours in the same office rooms as those flying Predators and Global Hawks.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35697714)

Drones are susceptible to losing their signal input but that can be addressed with pre-programmed flight plans stored on the craft itself for use if comm is interrupted. Drones are also a lot cheaper to build and maintain when compared against a F-22 for example. Drones can be mass produced and used in swarms that communicate in real time with each other during the operation to prevent duplicate targeting and provide redundancy for any drones that get destroyed. I think the AF is already working on a system like this called Constellation.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35697946)

'So unless someone comes up with an inertial compensating system'
And there lies the next step. The question is who? I wish you luck Burt. I had wanted to work for you. Oh well. That's life.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35696362)

No, but if it was Seymour Cray, I would expect him to invent Minecraft. ;P
Seriously, the guy dug tunnels [wikipedia.org] to think.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694622)

yada,

Few people can afford such things.

re: sr-71 the plans were destroyed,some had to revers engi

maybe you should enjoy p-51 usage

yeah me too, still the me-462, and me-262 kick ass,yawn, think of the children

me-462, me-262,

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

Hylandr (813770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694674)

The thing is there's no peer state to compete with on that level anymore. Neither side at this time can manufacture thousands of the fighters we already have vs taking the time to develop and deploy a new fighter. There's several things that are true here:

  1. - Global conflict may well be over long before any specialized requirements are even identified. Military development will be very much after the fact and attempting to predict the operational parameters of the next conflict.
  2. - There has been numerous art pieces and written literature depicting steampunk / 30's and 20's era conflict. This would seem to be a self fulfilling prophecy as time moves forward, existing systems are upgraded, but the craft remain largely the same. If the US were to be dropped into a Balls out war now, all the mothball fleets would be minimally repaired, and pressed into service.
  3. - Overwhelm their defenses, kill their queen. In WWII the Germans had vastly superiour technology. They had Jets and guided missiles and all sorts of things. In the end they lost because at one point in time during the war, any single 262 sortie would encounter roughly 200 allied planes during it's flight, and there were just to many bombers to take down. Not to mention no access to local resources such as oil. Speaking of which, you think we really should use all our natural reserves up just to drop the price of Gas? We need those reserves 'just in case'.
  4. - Cost. Prop driven aircraft require less time to produce, repair, field and fuel than a Jet. Smaller lighter craft require shorter fields, no pavement in some cases and can be deployed in much greater numbers. Technology exists today to watch a fleet make it's way to the US, and have a team waiting. It's called, Radar, Satellite, Internet ( comms ) etc. Even then, lets add some guns to that R6, or Extra 300. Cessna? Drop some bombs. Commercial airliners? Napalm Dispensary? Hrm...

Tho Bottom line is unless the battle is taking place in space, there's really no *need* to develop the next super-plane. You aren't going to abscond with the laws of physics. The faster you go, the longer the turn radius, the greater the G's. A slower prop can easily turn inside a jet trying to dogfight. It's pathetic.

- Dan.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (2)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694726)

he worked on 26 airplanes during his career, but today's aircraft designer would be lucky to work on one.

For the first time since WWII, the USAF no longer has a new fighter plane in development. If and when it becomes necessary to design one, who will know how?

The reason that they designed and then discarded so many aircraft in those days is that back then, *they* didn't know how.

If I had a choice between an experienced aircraft designer from the 1960s, or just all the written design documentation from the latest planes, I'd take the latter.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (2)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694996)

um that isn't true.

The F-22 and F-35 are just coming out. the scram jet engines for the next set of planes are still in testing.

Of course the next set of planes aren't being designed they are still be theorized. As all development cycles mature they slow down.

Saying there aren't new planes being designed is like saying there aren't tanks being designed. just because it isn't being shown to you doesn't make it so.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35695702)

The F-22 has been in service for a while and is likely being phased out, and the lesser F-35's are in production for use now. I'm not sure that qualifies new fighter design programs.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35697844)

Actually, Gates is re-thinking about the F-22. He is VERY likely to restart the F-22 line. In addition, I would not be surprised to see blackswift be restored.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

PrinceAshitaka (562972) | more than 3 years ago | (#35695252)

I don't know but I assume he/she will be chinese.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35695658)

Or some other country without stifling litigation professionals.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (4, Insightful)

MaroonMotor (967664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35695380)

All the current generation aeronautical engineers are cutting their systems design teeth on UAVs. The UAV situation is like what aircraft was in the 50's and 60's - They are relatively cheap and no one knows what the ideal/best configuration is. So you see dozens and dozens of quickly evolving designs all over the world. Aeronautical engineers are still getting trained, Just not so much on manned high performance aircraft.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35695962)

The basic aerodynamics of the existing jets and UAV's are pretty well understood. The advances will be in the area of computer technology, satellite and earth based communications, and exotic material designs.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

MaroonMotor (967664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35698280)

There is still a lot explore and learn core the system design (not just the aerodynamics) and layouts. We are still in the monoplane, biplane, triplane equivalent era of the UAV as far as overall configuration is concerned. Just look at the plethora of weird and amazing designs. After some operating experience these will eventually settle down to a few types which we will then know as the "classic" UAV configuration. So aircraft designers are still getting a chance to be innovative and rack up design experience.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

bentini (161979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35695642)

The USAF no longer has a new MANNED fighter plane in development.

FTFY.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35695746)

Yes, the F-35 will probably be the last generation of manned fighter planes for the US, and Lockheed is even running an R+D program to develop an unmanned version of it.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35698602)

Rutan was one of the few people who consistently got exotic designs right. He will be tough to replace.

Indeed he will. Since he started designing aircraft, he's been a hero. The "Skunk Works" was always the top innovator, but they stuck to military designs exclusively. Rutan designed craft for the basic Joe Shmoe civilian. He started designing and producing kits for Joe to put together in his garage and fly to the local airshows. Then he started producing full blown ready made aircraft that Joe could buy. I hope he keeps a finger or 2 in the Scaled Composites pie, maybe staying on as Engineer Emeritus.

Re:There are few aircraft designers left (1)

Sheik Yerbouti (96423) | more than 3 years ago | (#35700198)

The next war, heck the current war is fought with drones. Those are under heavy development. Fighter planes with human pilots are last centuries tech.

fuck april fools day (-1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694224)

It's too bad that slashdot editors were too busy posting everything that passed for a joke yesterday instead of even pretending to be a news site.

Re:fuck april fools day (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694246)

Slashdot has never been a news site. It's an aggregator.

Re:fuck april fools day (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694396)

On April Fool's day any major story is automatically assumed to be a hoax. Nobody would believe the truth on that day.

Actually, now that I think about it, people aren't that good at distinguishing truth from fiction on any day. Parent is right - try posting something true some April Fool's Day. It would be the most successful slashdot trick ever.

Re:fuck april fools day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694850)

The need to end their April Fools crap altogether. It's just not fun anymore.

Re:fuck april fools day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694846)

Well, they still let you post, so I can't see the foolishness ending any time soon...

Douchebag (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694262)

That is all.

New Company? (1)

J4 (449) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694312)

He just doesn't come across as somebody who can sit around.

Re:New Company? (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694630)

Well, apparently he had open heart surgery a couple years ago and has had health issues since then. I'm reminded of the saying, "A sucking chest wound is life's way of telling you to slow down." Burt's not quite to that point yet. May as well quit while he's ahead.

memories (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694324)

I well remember the first time I heard of Mr. Rutan. It was around 1972: one of the aviation magazines published a story about the Vari-Viggen. He was testing a model strapped to the top of his car, in lieu of the wind tunnel. That was typical Rutan thinking: if you don't have something, find a simple substitute.

I still have a copy of a magazine from 1976 (Air Progress, I think) with the Varieze on the cover, and announcing a new approach to home built aircraft. That aircraft changed the way a lot of us looked at building. I even got a copy of the plans, which I still have. The joke at the time was that you not only could build the plane in the quoted number of hours, you had to, because the building time was based on epoxy curing times.

Aircraft won't be the same: he was one of the few people I knew of who seemed to understand both aerodynamics and structure.

Re:memories (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35695212)

Aircraft won't be the same: he was one of the few people I knew of who seemed to understand both aerodynamics and structure.

I remember being in high-school, a friend's grandfather was a retired metal shop worker who built long ezs in his spare time. It was truly inspiring to see such an advanced craft, only to find out the design was over 15 years old. The thing is one of the most graceful light aircraft I have ever seen.

Re:memories (1)

Bitsy Boffin (110334) | more than 3 years ago | (#35697068)

He's retiring, not dead. Burt's retiring could be pretty good for light sport, in that, he will have lots of free time and a good chance that he might want to design himself a new light sport aircraft :-)

Glad that it happened (2)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694440)

I can't help feeling disappointed to lose the service of Burt Rutan.

I'll try to take the advice of Dr. Seuss - don't cry because it's over, just smile that it happened. Thanks for the coolest aerospace innovation ever.

Re:Glad that it happened (1)

Evi1M4chine (2029370) | more than 3 years ago | (#35695900)

Not to kill your happiness, but do you mean other than NASA putting a man on the moon? ;)

Let's be honest: Over the lies and deceptions that is politics, businesses and laws, we often forget, that there are really a lot of awesome people out there, that we can be mighty proud of.

The sheer fact that we can predict nearly all the world around us from nanoseconds after the big bang to the far future in such precision, that we haven't yet invented a measuring instrument exact enough to show its error (quantum electrodynamics, last time I checked), removes all doubt about that.

Truly an inspiration (2)

toygeek (473120) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694500)

I guess you could say he's scaling back? Anyway Burt Rutan did a great job at combining imagination, technology, and the wisdom at meshing the two. If one looks at his flock of planes throughout the years you'll find some of the most unusual planes ever developed. Asymmetrical? No problem. Dual wing? No problem. Supersonic? No problem? Cheap bizjet and fighter jets? No problem.

The man is a genius and will go down in history with Leonardo Da Vinci, Otto Lilienthal, The Wright Brothers, Charles Lindburgh and Amelia Earhart. He is truly a pioneer in aerospace and science in general. It is his innovations in composite materials and airframe design that have pushed far beyond what anybody saw coming from civilian aviation. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the "ufo" sightings people see are his creations also.

Re:Truly an inspiration (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694774)

Amelia Earhart? What the hell? You lost me there. Earhart was just a face, men did most of the things she got the credit for. If you want to insert gratuitous females with achievements in aviation, talk about Hanna Reitsch. She was a real pilot. The kind who flew her own planes. But oops! She served Germany during WWII - inconvenient truth. No wonder she's unknown by the world at large.

Re:Truly an inspiration (1)

toygeek (473120) | more than 3 years ago | (#35696448)

This is Slashdot, not Wikipedia and its a short quick list not an all inclusive who's who.

Too bad Slashdot was closed as a "joke" on April 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694550)

Yes, a joke is funny.

But shutting down business for a day to have fill-in-the-blank articles all day... well I'm sure the advertisers thought the drop in visits was funny.

Rutan's Solotaire (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694564)

In 1982, I met Burt Rutan, Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager at the airshow in Oshkosh. Burt was presenting his Solotaire self-launching sailplane which had just won a competition sponsored by the EAA. I was interested in self-launching sailplanes and good designs were rare. After the award ceremony, I accosted Burt, Dick and Jeana as they were walking away and they were kind enough to sit with me at a picnic table for awhile discussing airplane designs, flight characteristics and flight safety.

A Titan takes a well-deserved break (2)

jamrock (863246) | more than 3 years ago | (#35694780)

Burt Rutan is to my mind one of the towering giants of aviation history, all the more so because he continued to think outside the box and roll back the frontiers of the designer's art. In an era when design and engineering principles were already considered to be well-established, and advances were merely refinements of what had gone before, Burt managed to surprise and delight with his every offering. He is a wellspring of innovative genius, a colossus of the industry, a prodigy, a maverick, and one of my personal idols.

Good luck, and Godspeed Mr. Rutan.

Re:A Titan takes a well-deserved break (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694934)

His Canard designs of the VariVigan and Vari-Eze/Long-Eze were warmed over designs of the very FIRST airplane (The Wright Bothers Wright Gliders and powered aircraft).

By releasing his deigns in the then new 'home-built/experimental' category his design prospered not because of commercial production, but becuase of the relatively low cost and home-built/low cost accessibility of the design.

At best he optimized designs of past aircraft. Even the Voyager was not truly cutting edge... it just ran in a flight profile that most commercial offerings would never consider.

The SR-71 was a truly groundbreaking aircraft.

Re:A Titan takes a well-deserved break (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35696206)

We see the reason you post as an A.C.

Mod parent + towering giant of aviation history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35695024)

Mod parent +

towering giant of aviation history

Chuck Yeager _ Burt Rutan EAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694820)

The Rutan family will continue to innovate and inspire ...will always be an inspiration to me and so many others.

Chuck Yeager _ Burt Rutan EAA

Around the world in one flight with voyager is something I will never forget.

Hopefully he'll do a Brett Favre (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35694852)

From Burt's Wikipedia page

On July 29, 2009, Burt Rutan drew a full house for his presentation at the Experimental Aircraft Association's EAA Airventure 2009 Oshkosh Conference entitled "Non-Aerospace Research Quests of a Designer/Flight Test Engineer" where he discussed his thoughts on his hobby of climate change.[40] Although he admitted in his presentation that he was not a climate scientist, he stated he spent most of his career on data analysis and interpretation and how it is used or misused.[41]

        "I put myself in the (Those who fear expansion of Government control) group, and do not hide the fact that I have a clear bias on [ Anthropogenic global warming (AGW)]. My bias is based on fear of Government expansion and the observation of AGW data presentation fraud - not based on financial or any other personal benefit. I merely have found that the closer you look at the data and alarmists’ presentations, the more fraud you find and the less you think there is an AGW problem... For decades, as a professional experimental test engineer, I have analyzed experimental data and watched others massage and present data. I became a cynic; My conclusion – “if someone is aggressively selling a technical product whose merits are dependent on complex experimental data, he is likely lying”. That is true whether the product is an airplane or a Carbon Credit."

He describes his interest on the climate change topic as deriving from his "interest in technology, not tree hugging". Burt Rutan's house was featured in a November 1, 1989 article in Popular Science entitled: "21st Century Pyramid: The Ultimate Energy-efficient House".[42]

Rutan will also not interview with Scientific American, as he claimed that the magazine has "...improperly covered man-made global warming. They drink Kool-Aid instead of doing research. They parrot stuff from the IPCC and Al Gore."

Never retire (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35695030)

What does that mean anyway? Ceasing being productive? Quitting a "job" sure, but does any one believe Rutan will just stop doing anything?

Thanks (3, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35695260)

Thanks for all the great designs over the years. You made the prettiest commercial plane ever the Beechcraft Starship [ssrfanatic.com] and got us closer to commercial spaceships than anyone else. Enjoy your well deserved retirement, I wish they made more like you =)

Re:Thanks (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35696062)

Burt Rutan never got close to producing commercial spaceplanes. All of his craft were suborbital.

Re:Thanks (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711518)

Depends on what you mean by "spaceplane" doesn't it? If you're going to define it as a craft that can break orbit under it's own power and then land again under its own power (as I would be inclined to) then even the Space Shuttle doesn't even come close. But then, the Shuttle never even came close to living up to what it was initially sold as, now did it? At least SpaceShipOne delivered on what was promised.

Re:Thanks (1)

mture (1053660) | more than 3 years ago | (#35697434)

Oh man, I can remember loving the design of the Beechcraft Starship as a child enamored by airplanes in general! [sentimental teardrop]

Re:Thanks (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35701010)

Yeah, I can still remember seeing one flying overhead one day. I had no idea what it was, just that it was an incredibly beautiful plane with the engines in the rear. I looked it up and have been a huge fan ever since.

Retire? (1)

arikol (728226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35695346)

Can a man like Rutan really properly retire?

I can't imagine that his brain will just suddenly stop getting ideas and solving problems in new ways. Retire as CEO, sure. But he will either come in a couple of days a week or start doing some interesting home projects.
That's my hope, anyway.

Burt Rutan has made a real contribution to human knowledge and understanding. He has also been an inspiration to quite a few of us in many different fields.

Burt Rutan 7 of 8 RAF Rutan Aircraft Factory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35695368)

It was a priviliege... (4, Insightful)

CompMD (522020) | more than 3 years ago | (#35695390)

I had the privilege of working on Rutan's Vantage jet doing design and S&C verification. At the time, I worked for the only man considered a peer to Rutan, Jan Roskam, though only those in the aerospace industry would know him. The Vantage was a great plane, and Rutan and his company earned my respect and admiration. The respect was mutual, and an engineer who studied under the president of the company I worked for went on to become a VP at Scaled.

Another poster mentioned how there is an obvious lack of good aircraft designers today. Being someone in the aerospace industry, I agree with that 100%. This isn't just a "darn, the kids these days" rant. There is a demonstrable lack of creativity and ability in the younger generation of aerospace engineers. Some of this may be due to a lack of progress in the field (NASA has gone to hell, the USAF doesn't need any more aircraft), some of it could be due to a lack of desire to put in the effort (which is tremendous) to become a great aerospace engineer. I wish I knew. Hopefully soon we will have some truly bright engineers come to the forefront of aircraft design.

So, let me say that it was a privilege to be in the industry both competing with and cooperating with you, Mr. Rutan. I don't know if I'll ever have such a chance again. Thank you for that, and for your contributions to aviation. Best of luck to you.

Re:It was a priviliege... mod up+ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35695442)

mod up+

Corporations are ~people~ like Mr. Rutan, thank God.

Re:It was a priviliege... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35695830)

Honestly, it partly the fault of modern computers. They've stopped teaching, or at least harping on, the basics in college and once you get out into the real world you barely ever do hand calculations. I was one of the first classes where computers were ruquired for every student in my college, and I'll be honest - it's taken me twenty years to separate myself from the blind reliance and really understand the underlying science so that I can think without running simulation after simulation.

The guys who are great can see the answers before they run any numbers because they "see" the solution based in intuition and knowledge of how the formulas and theories work. They can tell, on a post it, whether the last month of work you've just done is wrong or not, and half the time they can tell where you screwed up. Thats the biggest thing I learned through design reviews in the aero industry, and it's why I have a great private practice now - I dont have go back to the office to figure out a solution - I know which way to go to solve a problem and can get the field workers started on fixing things, then run the final numbers to tweak the answer and get the final parts in place.

Re:It was a priviliege... (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35696408)

That reminds me of a comment about Kelly Johnson by his boss. He said "that damn Swede can actually see the air". That is the highest compliment I can imagine.

Re:It was a priviliege... (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 3 years ago | (#35696336)

start paying engineers like bankers, and watch the tech go.

Re:It was a priviliege... (1)

infoseek (1596733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35697952)

My inexpert opinion is that a lot of this is due to how risk averse and regulated the aerospace industry has become (perhaps necessarily so). There seems to be more innovation among UAV designers where these problems aren't as great.

Rutan is a climate change denialist (1)

Klaxton (609696) | more than 3 years ago | (#35697012)

He made great airplanes, no doubt about that. Innovative, outside the box, advanced the field, nobody can dispute that and I admire his contributions to aviation. But at the same time Rutan is a rabid anthropogenic global warming denialist and for that my respect for him is reset to zero. http://dlcinci.blogspot.com/2009/10/burt-rutan-is-full-of-hot-air.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Rutan is a climate change denialist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35697182)

"rabid"? Design the plane and it flies with the predicted values. That makes you a good engineer. Build the climate model and it fails to make an accurate prediction. What's that make you?

Re:Rutan is a climate change denialist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35697272)

Stop dragging your religion into things!

Re:Rutan is a climate change denialist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35698254)

Could be you're right, but his opinion might have changed in the past 2 years now that it is more broadly confirmed by the scientific community.
Do you have any recent info to corroborate?

I should think he'd be into human intervention into global warming what with his aerospace engineering experience.
After all, retirement can also mean "been there, done that, time to start a new company".

Re:Rutan is a climate change denialist (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35698636)

He also believes he knows, with absolute certainty, who killed JFK. If asked about it, he'll say its impossible for anyone who hasn't done his research to understand the proof.

He also is convinced (and claims to have proof) of a theory he's made up that the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids using some sort of long-forgotten technology for casting granite.

He will be back (1)

melted (227442) | more than 3 years ago | (#35697848)

Mark my words, he will be back. Folks like him get to where they are because they have this fire in their belly, and the only way to extinguish it is by working on what they love. Guess what, this doesn't go away just because you arbitrarily declare that you're "retired".

Sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35698594)

Watching SpaceShipOne fly in 2004 is one of the happiest memories of my life.

That's a very sad commentary on the state of your life, I'd say.

I mean, don't get me wrong, watching it fly was neat. Cool. Inspiring, even. But "one of the happiest memories of your life"? If that's really true, then you really need to reflect on the state of your life and make some changes, I think. If your happiest moments are those where you passively sit back and watch what others have done, with no involvement on your part at all, then - well, as I said before, that's very sad.

Savour your retirement my friend! (1)

droptop (558616) | more than 3 years ago | (#35700346)

You have genuinely earned your retirement good man. While the saying "thinking outside the box" has become quite cliché today, you have never been boxed in by convention. I love how you truly made an Art out of "If it looks right, it'll fly right". Enjoy your retirement, you've earned it! TJ Lambert
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?