SkiGull First Flight

SkiGull’s First Flight and an Update from Burt

| antennaFILMS

Burt Rutan’s SkiGull successfully took to the air for the first time from Coeur d’Alene Airport in northern Idaho in late November. “We’ve learned a hell of a lot today that I can check off ‘these are not problems’” a delighted Rutan said in a celebratory toast in front of crew and family following SkiGull’s first flight.

Burt also acknowledged that there’s still plenty of work to do before he can call SkiGull a finished product. He’s got to get the skis to work.

“If I stop, all I’ve got is just another seaplane. I don’t have something that’s a research breakthrough. And that’s what I’m after. I’m seriously after something that we’ll look back and say, ‘what this airplane is and is able to do, in terms of operating in beaches, rough water, and have the kind of capabilities that it has, is not just something a little better than the best floatplane, but something that is really truly breakthrough in nature.’”

SkiGull, which is to be the last plane Burt will build, spent over an hour and a half in the air with seasoned test pilot Glenn Smith at the helm. Photographer and aviation journalist Mike Satren was on hand and provides a remarkably detailed account of the first flight here.


Test pilot Glenn Smith reports the first flight tests confirmed SkiGull to be dynamically and positively stable in each axis. Burt was also pleased with the speed and stability of the aircraft, as it underwent testing in both cruising and landing configurations.

Burt is spending the Idaho winter perfecting the aircraft, including adjustments to the wing-stall buffeting, pitot tube, and nose-low water tendencies, as well as installation of new landing gear skis.

20 Responses to “SkiGull’s First Flight and an Update from Burt”

  1. John Ylinen

    When is the video that was part of the Kickstarter going to be released. Would be nice to get the whole story in film?

    • Scott B

      We’re still filming. The test flights will continue in the Spring. The whole story of SkiGull will be part of the film. Looking Up, Way Up! covers the entire life and career of Burt Rutan. We’re continuing to capture and gather material for it and are looking forward to letting everyone know when it will come out.

  2. James Traynor

    Very nice plane, way to go Burt!!!!! I like the style and shape. It would be a fun kit if someone did the molds and sold it as a kit. I hope to see the plane at Arlington fly-in this year. Looking foreword to seeing the construction video. How it is time to fly the new plane

  3. Kevin Bell

    Looks good can it be scaled down living on a river with a two mile
    straight piece in my front yard ,I only need a two seater to jump
    into the air and escape

  4. serge

    Time to recognize Burt Rutan as a true Artist of Flight and Freedom.

    A true Engineer in the deepest sense, always looking to push further the frontiers of engineering.

    Thank you Burt for your spirit and guidance.

    • antennaFILMS

      It’s coming along. Burt needed to modify his landing strategy after what he learned from the first flight. Update coming in a bit…

  5. Dennis Purduski

    We have a canard fly in every fall in Rough River Kentucky. It is a beautiful place. There is a small lake near the lodge. It would be GREAT if Burt and Tonya could make it in the SkiGull! Please feel free to contact me for any arrangements or details.

    look up

    Dennis Purduski
    Vari Eze N117EZ
    In Mississippi

  6. Michael Arndt

    I can’t wait for this plane to be complete, it’s a fine capstone to a heck of a career!
    I have to ask though – how did he solve the ethanol gas problem? If he’s planing to refuel anywhere the plane has to be capable of using auto gas as leaded gas is tough to find outside the states…

  7. M. Allen silva

    Dear Burt just as bob Hoover was the greatest stick and rudder pilot, you are the greatest engineer. I have followed you since the70s.i bought plans for the varieasy,but lost when I moved in 2006. Is plans for long easy still available. Everyone wants to know if plans for seagull will be available?

    • antennaFILMS

      Thanks for your question. Rutan is currently focused on finishing the plane. Discussions about potential for homebuilts are premature.

    • antennaFILMS

      Thanks for your question, M. Allen silva. Rutan talked about this possibility early on. His current focus is on finishing the plane first.

  8. Griffith Green

    Just what we have been looking for to travel the oceans of the world. The range, cargo capacity and low sea chop use only, has always fallen short with all the other amphibious aircraft out there in what they offer. We love the range capabilities and the simplified multi use capabilities, and is just what we have been looking for. This aircraft is amazing and so simplistic with such humble beginnings on a sketch pad in a garage. Three questions; Could it come with a lifting point to put onto the boat? Just wondering on the progress; very exciting aircraft? And lastly; any anticipations of when it maybe available to purchase from a manufacture to assemble? Truly an amazing aircraft that will put the amphibious market back into one category; Burt’s. He has been given a blessed gift from God!


    Burt Rutan pledged to continue designing new aircraft after completing the first flight of the homebuilt SkiGull amphibian, his 47th design to fly.

  10. Bob

    I’ve been a fan for many years and still have an original set of Vari Eze plans I ordered from you.

    I designed a single water ski configuration for a experimental design similar to the SkiGull many years ago and became concerned with pitch over characteristics also. The final solution was to mount the ski parallel to the fuselage bottom with two struts that folded forward flush to the fuselage in flight. An optional shock absorber could be installed on the rear strut. Hope this solves your issues!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>