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  • Ryszard Zadow

Flying the world’s only Variviggen to OSH cool story #1

The stories that evolved from flying the worlds only flying VariViggen to AirVenture 2022 could fill a book. For me it was one of the highlights of my flying career. I had the privilege of doing it's first flight and put it through it's test program. When it was decided that aircraft was good to go to OSH, I was the only one that had flown it so I got to take it up there. This is the first in a series that cover that experience, in no specific order, hope you enjoy them.


Since I started the Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience in 2015, I’d been trying to get the attention of Scaled Composites, Inc. I felt it would be nice to have some kind of relationship with the company that evolved from where it all started, Rutan Aircraft Factory. I never really got much feedback from Scaled. Their response to me felt like: “Oh, you’re some non-profit about that guy that used to work here. That’s nice.” I didn’t let it bother me but I really hoped one day things would change so I kept them on our mailing list, bet never heard much back.

The minute I brought “Lady Vi” to a stop and shut the engine down at OSH I was surrounded by people asking questions. I’d barely gotten the canopy open when there were people standing by the plane. The word had gotten out that we were on our way and even where we had intended to park. Lady Vi had a welcoming committee! I spent every day standing next to the Viggen talking to people. A few days into the week I found myself surrounded by a group of young people, and by that I mean twenty-somethings. They were asking all kinds of really intelligent questions about the VarViggen. I noticed they were all wearing Scaled Composites shirts. It turned out Scaled had a booth at OSH this year and these people all worked for Scaled. They were extremely interested in the Viggen and RAFE. I had a great time talking to them but a one of them made a statement that really struck my heart. A young lady engineer said: “ We love the legacy of Burt Rutan and Scaled. We heard about the VariViggen and just had to see it.! “

The rest all chimed in with agreement. I was thrilled! This wasn’t just a one day thing either. They kept coming back. They brought by friends and other co-workers from Scaled. They wanted pictures. They told me they wanted to build a library of Burt's designs and a display at Scaled. That just happens to be what RAFE wants to do too! The best thing is they’ve kept in touch.

RAFE’s mission of preserving and promoting Burt Rutan’s designs makes it sound like we’re focused on the past, but RAFE is really more about the future. These young engineers from Scaled are the future and I’m so excited that they are just as excited about Burt Rutan and his airplanes as I and the rest of the Volunteers at RAFE are!


Ryszard Zadow

Pres. RAFE.

Variviggen Test Pilot (That sounds so cool ! )

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