The Film

Maverick designer Burt Rutan re-invents the airplane, shoots a man into space and lands in the history books. Now he takes on the challenge of building his ultimate aircraft.

Hanging over the main entrance of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum — the most visited museum in America — is a strange looking aircraft designed by the visionary aviation engineer Burt Rutan. Looking Up, Way Up! is a documentary film that tells the story of this legendary maverick who makes his career by doing the impossible.

Burt’s creating yet another groundbreaking aircraft — in his garage.

From his groundbreaking innovations in homebuilt aircraft designs, to the first plane to circumnavigate the earth without refueling, to the first privately developed spacecraft to put a man in space, Burt’s 48 unconventional aircraft revolutionize the aviation and aerospace industries. Now Burt is creating his 49th manned aircraft, which he says is his most ambitious project yet.

Producer/Directors Scott B and Sandy Guthrie spent over 15 years chronicling Burt’s unique and fascinating story. With extraordinary exclusive access to his creative process, breathtaking aerial & archival footage, and candid interviews with Burt, his family, colleagues, competitors, and those he’s inspired— Looking Up, Way Up! takes us on an unforgettable journey that reveals the genius and passion behind a true pioneer.

Burt Rutan

“The man responsible for more innovations in modern aviation than any living engineer.”
— Newsweek

From Burt Rutan’s childhood building and competing model airplanes to the inclusion of five of his aircraft on permanent display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, his passion, fearless obsession and the conviction to follow his own compass pushes him to achieve what very few even think is possible.

Research should be defined as doing something where half of the people think it's impossible. A true creative researcher has to have confidence in nonsense.

Rutan electrified the world of private aviation with his first aircraft designs. Rutan’s easy-to-follow plans allowed an individual to build a sleek, sexy airplane in their garage that was safer and out-performed anything they could buy. It was revolutionary.

Rutan designed the legendary Voyager, the first aircraft to circle the world non-stop, without refueling. He also developed the GM Ultralite, an all-composite 100 mpg show car for General Motors, and the unique Proteus hi-altitude aircraft. Continue »

Burt Rutan

His Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer broke the Voyager’s record time, becoming the first non-stop, solo flight around the world.

In 2004 Rutan made international headlines as the designer of SpaceShipOne, the world’s first privately-built manned spacecraft to reach space. Financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, SpaceShipOne won the $10 million Ansari X-Prize and opened a new era of commercial space travel.

Inspired by the success of SpaceShipOne, Sir Richard Branson started Virgin Galactic and engaged Rutan’s company, SCALED Composites, to develop a line of commercial spaceships to fly the public.

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 has designed and flown more aircraft types than any designer in history.

Sandy Guthrie and Scott B of antennaFILMS are Peabody & Emmy Award-winning filmmakers who strive to tell stories that celebrate obsession and passion. Their breadth of work has been honored at major film festivals worldwide, featured on National Geographic, Discovery, Sundance TV, A&E, Lifetime and EPIX and is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. They first began filming Rutan in 2004 for what became the Peabody Award-winning series, Black Sky: The Race for Space and Winning the X-Prize

Captivated by Burt’s independent spirit, his incredible achievements & contributions, and his unique flair for telling a good story, Scott and Sandy started to film him for Looking Up, Way Up! in 2011.  View the Team »

The Team

Patricia Bischetti (Producer) has produced and supervised documentary projects and series for cable and television networks including PBS, WNET, WGBH, Discovery, TBS, TNT, TCM, CNN, American Masters, Lifetime, Starz, Encore and Showtime. A sampling of these include the Emmy Award-winning American Masters Mel Brooks: Make a Noise; the Sundance Film Festival selection and Academy Award-nominated The Last Days in Vietnam; Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated series Craft in America; the Peabody Award-winning Black Sky: the Race for Space.

Mark Greenberg (Co-Producer) is an award-winning photojournalist, editor and best-selling author. In 1987 he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for feature photography for his coverage of the Rutan-designed and built round-the-world Voyager aircraft. Mark co-produced the award-winning BBC documentary, Voyager: the World's Longest Flight. Since 1988 Mark has worked with the Virgin Group of companies and Virgin's founder, Sir Richard Branson. He is project photographer for Virgin Galactic, Branson's endeavor to take paying passengers to space.

Aaron Howell (Associate Producer) started in television in 2006 logging for Lifetime’s MERGE and the PBS series Craft in America before moving into research for an installment of the American Masters series. He created a documentary short about activism in New York and earned a Master of Arts degree in news and documentary production at New York University. He survived a season in Antarctica with the Sea Shepards for Animal Planet’s Whale Wars and has worked with antennaFILMS for the past four years on the Virgin Galactic and other projects.