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  • Ryszard Zadow

2024 Rutan Reunion Flight: Meet Izzy Briggs and his Defiant!

Continuing to design aircraft for his Composite Canard Revolution, in 1978 Burt Rutan designed and flew the world’s safest twin engine airplane.

Handling of a conventional multi-engine general aviation airplane after an engine failure can be demanding. The pilot must manage asymmetric thrust, airspeed and airplane configuration and do so while trying to determine the failed engine and secure it. It all must be done practically simultaneously. The twin engine airplane Burt designed only required two simple things if an engine failed, push both throttles full forward, and then pull the stick back. That’s all. After a failure of either engine, Burts twin would fly straight ahead with both feet on the floor. No rudder required, and it out-climbed every other light twin on one engine. The push-pull centerline thrust piston twin Burt Rutan designed was called Defiant and it lives up to its name, “defying” convention still today.

Twin engine homebuilt airplanes are uncommon and rare. There are probably only around 25 Rutan Defiants flying today. Ask any one of their Pilots about the airplane and you’ll get nothing but rave reviews. The Defiant is such a safe twin that Piper Aircraft Company wanted to certify it.

With so few to be had, Izzy Briggs had to look far and wide for a Defiant. In fact he had to look as far as Norway Then he had to figure out a way to get it home. Disassembling it and putting on a container ship would be the easy way. Izzy likes challenges and he took on a big one. He spent months traveling back and forth to Norway getting the Defiant airworthy again and ready. Izzy is the only Rutan Defiant to ever cross the North Atlantic, earning him the callsign, “Atlantic”, but for short, his friends call him “Pond”. Izzy has a long and involved history with Rutan aircraft. He will be flying his trans-oceanic Defiant as part of the 2024 AirVenture Rutan Reunion Flight. Meet Izzy Briggs:

Izzy's Bio

Izzy “Atlantic” Briggs first exposure to canards was in 1979 when he was 9 years old assisting his father in building a VariEze, N15EZ. The smell of Ez-Poxy takes him back to childhood. Inspired to pursue a lifeling interest in aviation, he took a job as a lineboy in 1984 at Marlborough Airport. The job involved washing the bellies and windscreens of the rental fleet as well as mowing the airfield in exchange for $2 an hour and a flight lesson at the end of each week. He first solo’d at 16 in 1986, before receiving his driver license.

A veteran, he served in the Air Force as an aircraft armaments and weapons systems specialist on MH-53 helicopters.

2002 Purchased a set of plans to begin the construction of a Rutan based composite aircraft called the Cozy Mark IV. Helped restore a Piper Aztec and gained experience in the use of aircraft in Search and Rescue with the Civil Air Patrol.

2013 began to pursue and develop a business in the world of experimental aircraft. Past president and current VP for EAA Chapter 106 in Lawrence, MA, he’s given many presentations and provided support to enrich the organization’s ability to provide facilities and services to builders, owners and operators of experimental aircraft all around the New England region.

Over the last 15 years, Izzy has restored, provided major repairs, resurrected and modified 30+ aircraft. Today he provides support for canard aircraft maintenance, refurbishment, test flight and repair services through his company, BlackSky Composites, LLC in Sanford Maine.

Founded BlackSky Rescue, LLC in response to a request to provide support to the domestic commercial manned spaceflight rescue services utilizing his Defiant as one of the companies resources.


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