On Aircraft and Craft

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On December 14, 1986, a bizarre-looking aircraft so laden with fuel that its wingtips dragged on the runway took off from an airport in the Mojave Desert. It landed nine days later, becoming the first plane to circle the globe nonstop without refueling. That plane was designed by Burt Rutan, an aerospace engineer who would go on to design SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the world’s first manned commercial spacecraft.

Having designed nearly four hundred unique aircraft, Rutan’s bold configurations stand out in an engineering practice that is necessarily shaped by the unforgiving science of flight. Despite these constraints, it has been Rutan’s self-imposed principles that give him the freedom, experience, and courage necessary to excel in his craft.

Encoded into the shape of Rutan’s aircraft are a series of convictions, and a clear point of view emerges when you consider his body of work not as isolated designs, but as a connected ecosystem. This talk will discuss these self-referential connections, and how they can inform the way we think about our own design experience.

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On Aircraft and Craft

  1. 1. On Aircraft and CraftInteraction 13 Conference, Toronto, CanadaJanuary 30, 2013Dane Petersen@thegreatsunra#onaircraft
  2. 2. Image Credit: Creative Commons
  3. 3. Image Credit: Creative Commons
  4. 4. Image Credit: Creative Commons
  5. 5. Image Credit: Instagram
  6. 6. Image Credit: Creative Commons
  7. 7. Image Credit: Creative Commons by Dave Malkoff
  8. 8. Image Credits: Creative Commons and Scaled Composites
  9. 9. 367 Unique Aircraft Designs
  10. 10. 367 Unique Aircraft Designs 47 First Flights
  11. 11. Lightweight, efficient aircraft.
  12. 12. design #76 rutan voyager 1986Image Credit: Creative Commons
  13. 13. 18 Years Later…
  14. 14. designs 318 & 316 white knight & spaceshipone 2004Image Credit: Scaled Composites
  15. 15. Image Credit: Scaled Composites
  16. 16. 1968
  17. 17. design #27 rutan variviggen 1972Image Credit: Creative Commons
  18. 18. design #33 rutan vari-eze 1975Image Credit: Creative Commons
  19. 19. Image Credit: Creative Commons
  20. 20. design #76 rutan voyager 1986Image Credit: Creative Commons
  21. 21. design #281 proteus 1998Image Credit: Creative Commons
  22. 22. Image Credit: Creative Commons
  23. 23. nasa x-38 prototype 1999Image Credit: Creative Commons
  24. 24. Image Credit: Creative Commons
  25. 25. design #316 spaceshipone 2004Image Credit: Scaled Composites
  26. 26. design #318 white knight 2004Image Credit: Scaled Composites
  27. 27. Image Credit: Scaled Composites
  28. 28. Image Credit: Scaled Composites
  29. 29. Image Credit: Scaled Composites
  30. 30. Image Credit: Scaled Composites
  31. 31. Image Credit: Scaled Composites
  32. 32. Image Credit: Copyright Mike Massee & Courtesy of Scaled Composites
  33. 33. 36 Years
  34. 34. Rutan spent his entire career riffingon a core set of design principles.
  35. 35. Rutan spent his entire career riffingon a core set of design principles.Rather than allowing the constraints ofhis design medium to define his craft…
  36. 36. Rutan spent his entire career riffingon a core set of design principles.Rather than allowing the constraints ofhis design medium to define his craft…Rutan’s principles defined his craft.
  37. 37. You are a mashup of your design experience.
  38. 38. You are a mashup of your design experience.The focus of your expertise is your craft.
  39. 39. You are a mashup of your design experience.The focus of your expertise is your craft.You construct the narrative of your craft.
  40. 40. Thank you.@thegreatsunra

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