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  • Ryszard Zadow

2024 AirVenture Rutan Reunion: Meet Gary Hertzler and his Varieze!

The iconic Rutan Varieze, with its sleek lines and swept wings, changed the landscape of homebuilt aircraft. With laminar flow airfoils and very low drag, it’s not surprising world records, still unbroken today, are held by Varieze builders and flyers.

This year at AirVenture, along with flying all the different models of Burt Rutan’s homebuilt designs in the airshow, Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience has also assembled Rutan homebuilt designs to display all day on Boeing Plaza. Like the airshow lineup, each Rutan design on display will be have a great story about the aircraft and the builder/Pilot. Several are world record holders.

Gary Hertzler has been flying the Varieze he built for 44 years and put over 5000 hours on it!  He is known in the Canard Community as a guru of efficiency. It’s hard to argue that when you consider Gary holds two world records for efficiency in his Varieze.

Visit with Gary and see his Varieze during Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience-Rutan Reunion on display in Boeing Plaza at 2024 AirVenture on Monday, July 22nd. See his Bio below.

Meet Gary Hertzler:

Gary Hertzler Bio:

Gary grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and attended college at General Motors Institute earning his BSME degree.  Following graduation he had a short stint with McDonnell-Douglas doing design work on the Phantom F4. He was called to the US Air Force where he served 4 years as a project officer at Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, NM. While in the USAF he joined the base aero club and attained his instrument and commercial ratings. Gary started work for AiReseach immediately following his discharge in 1971.  He hired in as a designer in the Valve group, quickly moving to the TFE731 project.  From there he served as Project Design Manager for the TFE1042 and CFE738 engines.  Gary finished his career as Master Design Manager and Design Manager for the 907 engine.

In 1976 after being shown an article on the Rutan VariEze by a colleague his interest in building a plane was renewed. Following completion of his A80 powered VariEze in 1980 efficiency became his obsession. This included achieving two non-refueled distance worlds records as well as several wins at the CAFÉ 400 competition and is the present holder of the CAFÉ Challenge award.. After about 1300 hours with the Continental, Gary installed a 118hp O235 Lycoming.


Following retirement in 2000, Gary started his own business manufacturing propellers for homebuilt airplanes, producing nearly 600 propellers primarily for the canard aircraft.  Besides building and flying his own airplane for the last 44 years and 5000 flight hours Gary also has restored two award winning antique cars, a 1917 Buick touring car and a 1929 Buick coupe.


 Don't miss Dick Rutan’s celebration of life in Hayden, Idaho on June 29.

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