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Video Review: Building the Rutan Composites

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This video is included in the Cozy Mark IV plans from Aircraft Spruce and should be considered required viewing for anyone getting into (or already into) building a Rutan-type composite aircraft. Burt Rutan and Mike Melvill walk through all of the major aspects of building a composite aircraft, from cutting foam, fiberglass and materials handling, shaping, layups, and finishing.

There's also a nostalgic element to it, as the underlying technology is clearly from the early 80s (with the exception of the DVD menu technology, which may be as recent as 1992 ;) ) and Rutan Aircraft Factory (pre-Scaled) is in its very early days with Burt and Mike looking like young bucks.  Burt handles the intro and outro segments in the style of a History Channel special (again, circa 1978).  
I recently bought the DVD version and decided to watch it again.  I discovered (and was reminded of) some complaints:

  • There are no chapters in the DVD menu, just the ability to Play from the start.  It would nice to be able to jump to the few sections in the video.
  • There was a brief moment (just a couple seconds) when the DVD showed the vertical sync issues that were common with VHS playback.  A more careful transfer and follow-up editing could have removed this.
  • The DVD does not improve the quality over the VHS tape version.
  • The front cover shows non-Rutan composites (a Q2, a SQ-2000 and a Dragonfly).  While these are derivatives, they're not exactly Rutan composites and more import to note is that they're not mentioned at all in the video.
  • The back cover also mentions:  "...as used on the VariEze, Long-EZ, Quickie, Q2, Dragonfly and other composite aircraft."  My hopes were dashed as I thought there would be some content specifically mentioning the Quickie types as well as "other composite aircraft".  Oh well.
  • The back cover includes:  "Bonus Feature:  A formation flight by the Long-EZ, Defiant, and VariViggen."  This turned out to be a handful of seconds worth of archival footage.  Amusing, yes.  Bonus?  I suppose.

Altogether I am satisfied with the upgrade from VHS to DVD, but if it were not for a holiday gift to myself I might not have done so for $20.
For all those that have not seen the video, it's worth the investment if you are setting out to build one of these airplanes, or any composite aircraft for that matter.



Jon Matcho :busy:
Builder & Canard Zone Admin
Now:  Rebuilding Quickie Tri-Q200 N479E
Next:  Resume building a Cozy Mark IV

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