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Rotax Engine to Power Rutan SkiGull

  • Rutan
    Burt Rutan in his garage working on his new airplane SkiGull.

March 19, 2015 - SkiGull, the new airplane homebuilding-icon Burt Rutan is building in his garage in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, will be powered by a 130 hp modified version of a Rotax engine. antennaFILMS, which is currently filming a documentary titled, “Looking Up, Way Up! The Burt Rutan Story,” quotes Rutan, “The design was recently changed to use a modified version of a certified Rotax engine (turbo, e-fuel injection, flight-adjustable prop, 130 max BHP).”

SkiGull, which will be Rutan’s 47th manned aircraft design to fly, will also have a docking system consisting of two “off-the-shelf” 5-inch diameter electric motors used for giant RC aircraft, each driving a 27-inch diameter folding propeller mount on each wing. They will provide forward or reverse thrust to allow backing up or rotating when docking/beaching in winds,” Rutan said.

“Since the SkiGull has a lift-to-drag (L/D) ratio of 23, its electric docking system can fly it about 8 miles, which greatly reduces the risk of an engine failure, particularly when operating out of small tree-lined lakes,” the release states. The docking system also gives it an extra 150 pounds of thrust.

Also mentioned is a retractable ski system that is pneumatically deployed at 15 knots during water takeoff, and supports the weight down to 10 knots during water landing. “They provide six times the shock absorption deflection of a landplane, while all other seaplanes (except the 1950s Sea Dart) have zero-shock stroke,” he said.

Look for further updates on the antennaFilms Kickstarter page that’s closing in on the goal of raising $80,000 to help fund the documentary.

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