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Rutan's 31st airplane, the mantis-like Proteus, is multi-mission but one of a kind. (Jim Sugar)

Design by Rutan

A retrospective of Burt Rutan's high-performance art

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37. Pulse-detonation LEZ
The first airplane to fly powered by a pulse-detonation engine (see “Son of a Buzz Bomb,” Sept. 2007) was a Long-EZ, so modified that it looked like a flying house, with the engine carried in a faired pod beneath the short fuselage. The single flight was an Air Force research lab project, and the airplane is now in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

38. BiPod
Race planes, transports, gliders, homebuilts, spaceships: What was left for Rutan to create? A flying car. The BiPod is a two-seat hybrid-electric roadable aircraft with a 760-mile range at a flying speed of 100 mph. On the road, with wings stowed between the pods, it’s designed to go 820 miles on one tank of gas, or 35 miles on batteries alone. Flight controls are in the right pod; driver’s steering wheel and brakes are in the left.

Photographer and filmmaker Jim Sugar has been photographing Burt Rutan and his flying machines since the earliest days of the Rutan Aircraft Factory and Scaled Composites.

Further reading: Burt Rutan’s Race to Space, Dan Linehan, Zenith Press, 2011. Burt Rutan: Aeronautical and Space Legend, Daniel Alef, Kindle eBook, 2011.

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