If you’ve always wanted to build a Burt Rutan designed aircraft, it’s about to get a lot easier. From the VariViggen to SpaceShipTwo, most of the most important designs to fly over Mojave during the past 35+ years will soon be available for just about anybody to build with Legos.
The project began two years ago as a collaboration between Burt Rutan’s son Jeff, and his grandson (Jeff’s nephew), Cole. When a then 10 year old Cole first saw WhiteKnightTwo in 2008, he wanted to build a lego version of the largest ever aircraft to come out of a Scaled Composites hangar. Using 3-D design software, Jeff worked out the plans to build a model out of Legos, but suggested they start with the smaller SpaceShipTwo to get started. They ended up building three of the next generation spacecraft, giving one to the famous designer for Christmas.
Jeff Rutan told the Experimental Aviation Association after successfully building SpaceShipTwo from Legos, they saw now reason to stop.
“Then we thought it would be cool to make a bunch of these” Jeff says, “and sell some plans books so other kids could build these with their own LEGOs.”
Now he has plans for 46 Rutan/Scaled Composites aircraft including a few variations on some popular designs and one or two that are the offspring or related to the Rutan/Scaled/Mojave community.
After more than three decades at the leading edge of aerospace design, Rutan recently retired from Scaled Composites, sold his pyramid home in Mojave, California and moved to Idaho. And while many in the industry can’t help to think that there will still be some new designs on the way, there is no doubt that his history of creative and unorthodox designs have left a indelible mark in the aerospace world.
Built entirely of single and double width Lego bricks, the models – especially the smaller ones – are instantly recognizable, albeit low-resolution versions of the smooth, composite full size aircraft they are based on. The plans for all 46 are made at 1/30 scale, providing a good comparison of the various sizes. According to the EAA, Jeff is still looking for a publisher for the plans, but hopes to have them available by next year.
In addition to the VariViggen and SpaceShipTwo, other classic Rutan designs available include several versions of the Long-EZ, the high flying Proteus, the around-the-world Voyager and perhaps his most interesting design, the Boomerang .pdf. Even the Firebird has been worked out in Lego form only weeks after the Scaled Composites design was announced to the public.
In honor of his contribution, Rutan will be honored at Airventure in Oshkosh, Wisconsin next month. There are plans in place to have all of the Lego models on display at the EAA Museum during the show.
Photos: Jeff Rutan via EAA
Via Wired Autopia: http://www.wired.com/autopia/