Matt Eller, an Ames, Iowa real-estate developer, acquired the intellectual property of bankrupt VisionAire on October 2 for $441,000 and, under company name Eviation, plans to certify and produce the single-turbine Vantage very light jet.
A bustling airport in an otherwise desolate landscape served as the backdrop for the unveiling of what’s been hailed as the world’s first private space venture.
A few aviation entrepreneurs have imprinted their name in the industry not only because they have provided a great product or service, but also because their foresight, innovation and personality have been a driving force behind it. George “Rick” Adam Jr. appears to be destined for that list.
Northrop Grumman finalized its acquisition of Scaled Composites on August 24, increasing its shares from 40 percent to 100 percent. Scaled Composites is the aerospace and specialty composites development company founded and run by Burt Rutan, known most recently for designing the first privately funded rocket-powered spacecraft, SpaceShipOne. The spacecraft made its first supersonic flight on Dec.
Northrop Grumman now owns 100 percent of Mojave, Calif.-based Scaled Composites. On August 24, Northrop Grumman, which already owned 40 percent of Scaled, closed on the purchase of the remaining 60 percent. Scaled continues to work on the program to deliver SpaceShipTwo to Virgin Galactic. “The relationship between Scaled Composites and the Virgin Group is unchanged by this transaction,” a Northrop Grumman spokesman told AIN.
Based on the success of the SpaceShipOne (SS1) suborbital craft’s ascent on June 21 (AIN, July, page 2)–becoming the first privately funded manned spacecraft to reach 100 km (328,000 feet)–designer Burt Rutan is confident that he and his company, Mojave, Calif.-based Scaled Composites, will win the $10 million Ansari X Prize by year-end.
Mojave, Calif., is a unique place. As they drive north on State Highway 14, approaching the small burg of approximately 3,700 people, visitors first notice the hundreds of blades turning in windmill farms on hillsides to the west of town. Across the highway, dozens of jetliner tails sprout from the desert floor, idling in storage in the arid desert air at Mojave Airport.
Mojave, Calif.-based Scaled Composites recently modified the Virgin Atlantic-sponsored GlobalFlyer with fuel jettison capability at the request of pilot Steve Fossett, who is scheduled to fly the single-engine Williams FJ44-powered aircraft solo around the world nonstop without refueling sometime after January 4.
“LAST BIG PLUM” REVISITED–Burt Rutan and the Voyager team in 1986 described their quest to fly around the world nonstop and unrefueled as “the last big plum” in the orchard of aviation records. In 1999 Messrs. Piccard and Jones, similarly, characterized their ultimately successful circumnavigation of the world in the Breitling Orbiter balloon as “the last great aeronautical adventure.”
Alpharetta, Ga.-based Flight Display Systems named Tom Austin Jr. president. He joined the company from Cutter Aviation, where he was v-p of aircraft services.
Mineral Wells, Texas-based Meggitt/S-Tec named Michael McMillan president of the company. McMillan was a founding v-p of Piaggio America and had a 21-year career with Raytheon Aircraft.