Burt Rutan May Be Retiring and Leaving Mojave

Reports out of Mojave, Calif. indicate that famed aircraft designer Burt Rutan is looking to retire from the company he founded, Scaled Composites, and move away from the desert town where he designed and built groundbreaking aircraft and spacecraft for 36 years.

Rutan is putting his Mojave home on the market and plans to move to a spread in Idaho with his wife, Tonya, according to several reliable sources who would not speak for attribution.

Asked about these reports today, Rutan replied in an email: “I plan to put out a general release on the subject after I make retirement plans. Once I have decided what to do I will post it at Scaled and other sites.”

Rutan has lived in the Mojave area almost continuously since 1965, when he went to work for the U.S. Air Force as a flight test project engineer at Edwards Air Force Base. He left to work in Kansas in 1972, but he returned to the desert two years later to found Rutan Aircraft Factory.

Rutan founded Scaled Composites in April 1982 to developed advanced aircraft. His major aviation achievements have included the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer and the Voyager, which both circumnavigated the globe without refueling.

He also designed WhiteKnight and SpaceShipOne, the latter of which was the first private vehicle to reach space in 2004. Scaled Composites is currently testing WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo, which are designed to allow Virgin Galactic to send two pilots and six tourists on suborbital space tourism rides.

Rutan served as president of Scaled Composites until June 2008, when he became chief technology officer and chairman emeritus. Douglas Shane was promoted to succeed him as company president, handling day-to-day operations.