Superlatives come easy when talking about Burt Rutan. His innovative aircraft and spacecraft designs - which often look like something out of a SciFi novel - have been astounding the world for decades. Dan Linehan examines Rutan's life and career in this nicely-written and wonderfully-illustrated 2011 release from Zenith Press.
In his first 68 years, the 'Magician of Mojave' has been responsible for the development of VariViggen, VariEze, Quickie, Defiant, Long-EZ, AD-1, AMSOIL biplane racer, Grizzly, Solitaire, Voyager, Catbird, Boomerang, Proteus, SpaceShipOne, White Knight and other designs, work which made him a legend in his own time. Indeed, he has been acclaimed as "the single most influential designer of aircraft and airframes in the last half of the 20th Century."
Linehan traces Rutan's growth from a young, model-building sprout in Oregon to Cal PolyTech grad with a BS in aeronautical engineering, flight test work with the USAF in the late 1960s, creation of the Rutan Aircraft Factory then Scaled Composites LLC and the many varied designs that have flowed from his fertile mind.
It's fascinating to read about how Rutan faced each new challenge and produced designs that were as efficient, strong and light as they were innovative, sometimes wildly so. You don't need to be an aeronautical engineer to understand and appreciate Linehan's narrative; the average aviation buff should enjoy the text and the many photographs, illustrations and diagrams of the Long-EZ, Voyager, White Knight, etc.
In short, BURT RUTAN'S RACE TO SPACE is a comprehensive and informative tribute to one man's quest to push the envelope. Highly recommended.