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.

14 responses to “SkiGull’s First Flight and an Update from Burt”

  1. John Ylinen says:

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

  2. Scott B says:

    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.

  3. Great to see the continuing progress on SkiGull and Looking Up, Way Up!
    I am anxiously awaiting the completion of both of these amazing projects!

  4. 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

  5. Kevin Bell says:

    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

  6. Curt Bryan says:

    When will the public audition take place ?

  7. serge says:

    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.

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

  9. antennaFILMS says:

    TBD. It will depend on the results of the upcoming water tests.

  10. Dennis Fox says:

    Just wondering how progress is on the SkiGull, no info for several months now

  11. antennaFILMS says:

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

  12. Dennis Purduski says:

    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

  13. Michael Arndt says:

    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…

  14. M. Allen silva says:

    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?

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