There are several of Burt Rutan's unique aircraft designs all clustered together just off the edge of the main display ramp at Oshkosh. As you might expect, this collection of flying machines attracts a lot of attention thru the day. After the rain finally stopped around noon on Wednesday, I put some attention on the Rutan Model 81 Catbird.
The Catbird was conceived and built in the late 80's by Burt as an outgrowth of a design-project by Scaled Composites (owned by Beech at the time) for a possible Bonanza replacement. The five seat cabin is unusual (imagine that) in having the pilot sit in the middle of the airplane, slightly forward and between the second and third seats. Then, the last two seats are facing aft. If I remember the idea from back in the day, this arrangement kept the biggest part of the body mass fairly close together for CG control while also putting the heads of all five people relatively close together for easy and delightful airborne chat.
The airplane also had both a canard and an aft mounted (forward-swept) horizontal tail. To learn a boatload more about the Catbird, check out this 1988 Catbird article in Sport Aviation... it'll really give you the inside scoop. Most of the Catbird pix here are from Wednesday. The two without a big crowd around it are from Sunday, before Oshkosh started.
The Synergy RC model was on display in the Innovations building which made for a good opportunity to see the shape from every angle. The prototype aircraft is nearing completion, but as is common with any grass-roots operations pushing the envelope, they still have several hurdles yet to clear. I'm fairly familiar with the project tho and have confidence that they'll have something very cool to share with us all before long.
This really great looking prototype electric design known as Elektra One was also on display in the Innovations building. This small aircraft clearly takes many design cues from sailplanes, but it keeps the wing short enough to remain very manageable when close to the ground. With extreme attention to light weight, the Elektra One makes really good use of a very small electric motor. They had hoped to fly the airplane on Wednesday but the rain got in the way. Hopefully they'll get another slot yet before Oshkosh comes to a close. (check out my previous Elektra One coverage)
More Oshkosh coming soon!