Elbert L. Rutan led the engineering design, construction, and testing of a series of remarkable aircraft, including the Voyager, the first unrefueled aircraft to circle the earth.
Rutan was born in Dinuba, California in 1943. As a boy, he designed award-winning model aircraft, and by age 16 had learned to fly. After receiving a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from California Polytechnic University, he worked for the U.S. Air Force as a Flight Test Project Engineer at Edwards AFB, California. In 1972, he founded Rutan Aircraft Factory, which sold plans and kits for Rutan-designed aircraft. He later decided to leave the homebuilt industry and create larger-scale designs for companies. His new firm, founded in 1982, was Scaled Composites.
Mr. Rutan was awarded the Collier Trophy and Presidential Citizen's Medal of Honor after the record-breaking Voyager flight. Mr. Rutan became a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1989.
Information as of 1989