Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dick Rutan First-Flights New Berkut

Veteran test pilot and world aviation record holder Dick Rutan has a new ride, with yesterday's first flight of his new Berkut homebuilt. The Berkut is a descendant of the Rutan (as in Brother Burt) Long-EZ, with the prototype being designed in 1989 by Dave Ronneberg and Kerry Beresford of the company Experimental Aviation. The type subsequently suffered through several failed companies, replete with numerous bankruptcies and lawsuits, leading to the current Berkut Engineering Inc.

The corporate background notwithstanding, though, the Berkut has some loyal followers. The Berkut uses retractable landing gear originally designed by Shirl Dickey of the E-Racer fame, and utilizes the Roncz 1145MS canard airfoil, which is more forgiving of dirt and bugs. When equipped with a Lycoming 540, the plane is easily capable of over 300 kts. 

For Friday's maiden flight, Dick was chased by long-time friend Mike Melvill (see the June 27, 2008 Mojave Skies entry "The Planes of Mojave: Special EZes, Part I - World Traveler" for the pair's exploits) in his long-range Long-EZ. The successful flight ended just before rain and snow once again blessed the desert.


Anonymous said...

...And so which one is the Berkut and which one is the Long-EZ? LOL, just kidding. Although if it weren't for the wing tanks on Melvill's plane (which you described as long range) it might be pretty hard to tell them apart.

So the question is... Why did Dick Rutan build a plane that is essentially a copy of his brother's design? Just curious.

Jan Henkes said...

Because there's no comparison. Designed for optimum performance, no scratch-built construction but premolded parts of the A1-best money can buy kind and made of better, lighter, stronger and stiffer materials, designed for stronger (heavier) engines than the eze, double F-18 like canopies with better view, lots of cockpit space unlike the original eze, retractable gear with handy and convenient surprises, and last but not least: performance, performance, PERFORMANCE...
Thanks Dave (and all involved) for this outstanding design.
Greetings from France,