This page is dedicated to the design and history of the Rutan VariViggen.
Although the N27VV was the first prototype, the second aircraft N27MS was photographed much more and is often assumed to be the very first VariViggen.
The very first aircraft designed and built by Burt Rutan was the VariViggen. It was given the Rutan Aircraft Factory designation - Model 27 and the FAA registration number of N27VV. Burt Rutan said the first 26 designs would not have flown very well. The first prototype and original paint scheme is shown in the following image:
The N27VV aircraft was featured in the following magazine articles:
Aeroplane Monthly - 5/74 article
Popular Mechanics - 5/73 article
Sport Aviation - 5/72 article
This paint scheme was only on the airplane for a few months while the plane was in the flight test stage of development.
The plane was then given a new paint scheme and a nickname of ThunderChicken. The paint scheme and nickname was a takeoff of the paint scheme of the USAF Thunderbirds.
There was even an emblem on the side of the aircraft for the ThunderChicken:
The N27VV aircraft, with the new paint scheme, was featured in the article (link below):
Sport Aviation - 8/73 article
A very impressive radio control version of this airplane is shown in the following magazine article:
Radio Control Modeler - 9/76 article
Special removable outer wing panels were then designed and added (in 1975) to the VariViggen. They further increased the performance of the VariViggen. The new aircraft was called a VariViggen SP and designated as Model 32. The image below shows the VariViggen with the new "Special Performance" wings:
The original VariViggen was retired in 1977 and donated to the EAA museum in Oshkosh, WI. The EAA museum has several of Rutan's aircraft on display.
The 2nd VariViggen was built by Mike Melville. The FAA registry number on it is: N27MS. In many color photographs, N27MS often looks like the trim is black instead of green.
The N27MS was also featured in a Sport Aviation magazine article:
Sport Aviation - 3/78
N27MS was retired in 1985 and donated to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA. All in all, about 35 VariViggens were built. Less than 5 are still flying today.
Below is a poster of some, but not all of Burt Rutan designs. These are all the aircraft designed under his first company, The Rutan Aircraft Factory. He has designed, built and flight tested one to two new aircraft each year since 1974. Some notable designs from his early days are the Long EZ, the Voyager and the Beechcraft Starship. The Starship was a truly beautiful plane, but due to the drop in oil prices, the whole aircraft line was discontinued due to cheaper business jets. A total of fifty Starships were produced. Very few of them are flying today. Beechcraft bought back most of them and scrapped them due to business reasons. Burt Rutan's new company is called Scaled Composites. It is baffling for to me to think about the number of aircraft that he has designed. ( Burt Rutan Designs )
One of Burt Rutan's most outrageous designs was his twin engine design - the Boomerang. Because of it's design, it is actually safer and easier to fly than a normal twin in an engine out condition. Here is a 3D view of Rutan's Boomerang (personally, I think he was showing off his design skills):
Here is a picture of the full scale Boomerang. Many people have asked the same question that I asked when I first saw it - "How in the world does that fly?" According to Burt, It's flying qualities are excellent.
Mike Fritz, a member of the K/W Flying Dutchmen R/C club out of Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario designed an R/C version of the Boomerang and managed to get it flying. It definitely is one wild design. The model is 1/5th scale with an 88 inch wingspan and is powered by two Saito 72 four stroke engines. I have a video of the model flying. It seems to fly rather well. The model took 3rd place in the 'Non Military Sport Scale Plane' competition at the Toledo Show in 2009 (Toledo, Ohio). Awesome model Mike!
If you have any additional VariViggen information or pictures, feel free to contact me. Pictures of Rutan's other models would be great too. Future website plans include RC models of various Rutan designs as well as details on the full scale airplanes and links to other Rutan dedicated web pages..
I hope that you have found this background information interesting. If you have, feel free to drop me an email message: firstname.lastname@example.org.