PIA BERGQVIST – Burt Rutan, who retired from his company Scaled Composites in 2010 only to announce he is building a new airplane in his garage, provided some details regarding the progress on what he has named the SkiGull.
The SkiGull is designed as a multi purpose airplane capable of landing on water (it incorporates design details to prevent corrosion in salt water), snow and unimproved surfaces. Rutan recently unveiled the first images of his new design at AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The legendary designer had hoped to fly his first prototype to the show, but the airplane was not ready.
Designed as a two-seat tandem composite airplane with foldable wings, the SkiGull is designed for ground transportation without a trailer, AOPA reported. The airplane will be powered by a Rotax engine to allow operators to use auto fuel instead of avgas.
The SkiGull will have a unique auxiliary electrical propulsion system, which is designed to provide an additional boost of power during takeoff, for engine-out safety, and for docking and beaching in winds. True Blue Power has been selected to provide batteries for the system. The company claims its lithium-ion batteries deliver three times the energy per kilogram compared with NiCad batteries.
AntennaFILMS is documenting the design and build process of the SkiGull. The company launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a documentary of Rutan’s life called Looking Up, Way Up! The enthusiasm for Rutan’s airplane designs was evident as the campaign raised nearly $107,000 for the film project.