"Breakthroughs are what define our species."
Named "Entrepreneur of the Year" by Inc. magazine and described by Newsweek as "the man responsible for more innovations in modern aviation than any living engineer," Burt Rutan is a bold entrepreneur and designer with the vision and passion for the advancement of technology. Graduating third in his class, Rutan earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from California Polytechnic University in 1965. Since then, he has been awarded six honorary doctorates: Doctoral of Science from Daniel Webster College in 1987, Honorary Doctor of Science from California Polytechnic University in 1987, Doctoral of Humanities from Lewis University in 1988, Doctoral of Technology from Delft University of Technology in 1990, Honorary Doctoral of Engineering from University of Illinois in 2006, and an Honorary Doctoral Degree from the Free University of Brussels in 2007.
In 2004 Rutan made international headlines as the designer of SpaceShipOne, the world's first privately-built manned spacecraft to reach space, and as winner of the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, the competition created to spur the development of affordable space tourism. "Manned space flight is not only for governments to do," says Rutan. "We proved it can be done by a small company operating with limited resources and a few dozen dedicated employees. The next 25 years will be a wild ride; one that history will note was done for everyone's benefit."
The exciting development and launch of SpaceShipOne, financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, was featured in the Peabody award-winning Discovery Channel Documentary Specials, "Black Sky: The Race for Space" and "Black Sky: Winning the X Prize." A 60 Minutes profile, "Burt Rutan: An American Original," aired in November 2004.
Rutan designed the legendary Voyager, the first aircraft to circle the world non-stop, without refueling. He also developed the Proteus high-altitude, long-endurance test bed aircraft. Other recent projects include the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, which broke the Voyager's record time and enabled the first non-stop, solo flight around the world.
The success of Scaled Composites owes itself to Rutan's philosophy that the best ideas come from the collaborative efforts of small, closely-knit project teams and an environment that is not averse to risk-taking. According to Aviation Week, Rutan is "a capable manager who has been able to attract technicians, pilots and workers who revel in the entrepreneurial and creative spirit existing at Scaled Composites."
Winner of the Presidential Citizen's Medal, the Charles A. Lindbergh Award, two Collier Trophies and included on Time magazine's "100 most influential people in the world," Rutan is the founder and CTO/Designer Emeritus of Scaled Composites, LLC, the most aggressive aerospace research company in the world. Based in Mojave, CA, his company has developed and tested a variety of groundbreaking projects, from military aircraft to executive jets to spaceships, showcasing some of the most innovative and efficient designs ever flown.
Rutan retired from Scaled Composites on March 31, 2011, and is enjoying his new home in Idaho.
“Burt is known worldwide as a legendary genius in aircraft design in the aviation world. I am very fortunate and proud to have worked by his side for the past 28 years,” says President Douglas B. Shane. “We wish Burt and his wife, Tonya, the very best the future holds for them.”