Props not installed, BiPod 'hops' into the air for first flights (photos: Scaled Composites)
Oh, it's got two fuselages and 4 wheels too... would you expect anything less unusual from Burt Rutan with his last design project before he retired from Scaled Composites April 2011? If you know anything about the amazing and unique career of Burt, you know this is right down the middle for him!
According to this Aviation Week article, the BiPod first flew on March 30th, but those were just 'hops' into the air via the driven rear wheels. I'm not sure the current status of flight testing or of the propeller installations. I'm sure more info will surface before long.
Scaled Model 367 with wings and outer tail panels removed for road testing
The Scaled Model 367 is unconventional on many levels. It's a roadable electric-hybrid aircraft for two people with an intended high speed cruise of 200 mph. It'll have two 450cc engines (one in each fuselage) powering generators designed to drive two 15kW motors at the rear wheels for 'road mode', and then four 15kW motors spinning props for flight mode. As the illustration below shows, two of those motors are mounted on the wings outboard of the fuselages, and the other two are mounted on the horizontal stab between the fuselages. There are also some small batteries in the nose to provide a little power boost when needed, and also to act as a short duration backup in the event of a total loss of engine power.
Illustration of the BiPod electric-hybrid configuration for flight mode
BiPod in 'road mode' with wings stowed underneath and tail panels stowed inboard front
The BiPod gave Burt one last opportunity to do some electric and roadable concept testing while also working directly with many of the young engineers at Scaled. Imagine what an interesting experience that would be... to work hands-on with Burt building such a unique flying machine in just 4 months time. It seems it's pretty much the kind of experience that the young and growing team of Scaled employees are involved in on a daily basis. Man, if I'd only gone to college to get that aeronautical engineering degree that I was accepted into Purdue for - and if I was young instead of old, I'd be camping in Mojave trying hard to get my name on the payroll! What an amazing place. And it all got started about 30 years ago with Burt Rutan and a head full of wild ideas!
There's no real reason to expect the Model 367 to be up at Oshkosh, but there will be all kinds of Burt oriented activities and Burt designed aircraft on-site this year as the EAA facilitates a tribute to his fascinating career in avaition. It's just one more reason why this is gonna be an amazing Oshkosh - don't miss it!
Burt along with many of the Scaled crew that built the BiPod