The Mojave Air and Space Port will soon include the name of the men who could be said to have put the facility on the map, Burt and Dick Rutan.
The airport’s board of directors voted this month to incorporate the Rutan name in the title, with the specific wording to be determined. The vote was 4-0, with Board President Jim Balentine abstaining.
Adding the Rutan name to the facility would recognize aerospace designer Burt Rutan and his record-setting brother, Dick, as their “aviation achievements have played a key role in the evolution of the aerospace industry and the success of the Mojave Air & Space Port organization,” according to the staff report.
Burt Rutan founded the Rutan Aircraft Factory at what was then a small, general aviation airport in Mojave, in 1974, and started Scaled Composites there eight years later.
The lat?ter helped spawn Vir?gin Gal?ac?tic and The Space?ship Company, built on the success of Scaled’s SpaceShip?One space?craft.
In the 47 years since Rutan set up shop in Mo?jave, the airport has be?come internationally known as a home to aer?o?space innovation and has drawn other firms look?ing for a home for re?search and de?vel?opment.
Dick Rutan is perhaps best known for piloting the Burt-designed Voyager aircraft around the world, without stopping or refueling, in 1986. A decorated Air Force fighter pilot, he also served as a test pilot for Burt’s firms and has set several aviation records.
Burt Rutan retired from Scaled Composites in 2011; he and Dick now reside in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
The airport management conducted a survey of 104 tenants and found that, of the 52 responses received, 34.62 percent agreed with modifying the name to Rutan Field at Mojave Air and Space Port.
General Manager Todd Lindner noted that even the Wright brothers had detractors, although they are still remembered for their achievements. “I think the same could be said for the Rutan brothers, as well,” he said. “The Rutan name is noteworthy.”