The Rutan Model 61 Long-EZ is a tandem 2-seater homebuilt aircraft designed by Burt Rutan’s Rutan Aircraft Factory. The Long-EZ has a canard layout, a swept wing with wingtip rudders, and a pusher engine and propeller. The tricycle landing gear has fixed main wheels with streamlined spats and a retractable nosewheel. Its predecessor was the VariEze, plans of which were first available to homebuilders in 1976. The prototype Long-EZ, N79RA, first flew on June 12, 1979.
Elbert Leander “Burt” Rutan is a retired American aerospace engineer and entrepreneur noted for his originality in designing light, strong, unusual-looking, and energy-efficient air and space craft.
He designed the record-breaking Voyager, which in 1986 was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, and the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, which in 2006 set the world record for the fastest (342 mph/551 km/h in 67 hours) and longest (25,766 miles/41,466 km) nonstop non-refueled circumnavigation flight in history.
In 2004, Rutan’s sub-orbital spaceplane design SpaceShipOne became the first privately funded spacecraft to enter the realm of space, winning the Ansari X-Prize that year for achieving the feat twice within a two-week period.