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Scaled Composites Catbird


Scaled Composites Catbird

Model 81 Catbird
Second first flight July 7, 2011
Role General aviation aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Scaled Composites
Designer Burt Rutan
First flight March 14, 1988
Status Restored in 2011
Number built 1

The Scaled Composites Model 81 Catbird is a high-efficiency five-seat single-engine all-composite general aviation aircraft designed by Burt Rutan. It is unusual in that it incorporates both a small forward wing and a small conventional horizontal stabilizer on the tail.


  • Design and development 1
  • World records 2
  • Specifications (Model 81 Catbird) 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Design and development

The Catbird was designed by Burt Rutan while his company, Scaled Composites, was owned by Beechcraft. The design was intended to replace the long-produced Bonanza.[1] The financial situation of Beech at the time, and competing projects, prevented consideration of commercial production. In 1988 Beechcraft sold Scaled Composites to the partnership of Rutan and the Wyman-Gordon Company, who also acquired the rights to a number of the designs, including Model 81 Catbird.

The aircraft was stored inverted from the ceiling of Scaled Composites' Mojave hangar until April 2011. The aircraft was restored to flying condition by Zach Reeder, Jim Reed and Mike Melvill. Catbird's second first flight was July 7, 2011.

World records

Catbird holds the world record for speed over a closed circuit of 5,000 km without payload of 334.44 km/h set in 2014.[2] (Category C-1c Landplanes with take off weights from 1000 to 1750 kg.)

The aircraft won the CAFE Foundation's 1988 California CAFE 400 race flown by Mike Melvill, in which aircraft compete for performance efficiency, as measured by fuel consumption, speed and payload.[3] Piloted by Dick Rutan, it subsequently won the 1993 CAFE Challenge with a record score and a speed of 210.73 mph (339.14 km/h), fuel consumption of 20.15 mpg (US miles and gallons) and a payload of 976.63 pounds (442.99 kg).[3][4]

Specifications (Model 81 Catbird)

Catbird in storage

Data from EAA

General characteristics


  • Maximum speed: 238 kn; 441 km/h (274 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 218 kn; 404 km/h (251 mph)
  • Rate of climb: 2,000 ft/min (10 m/s)


  • Northstar M1 Loran

See also

Related development


  1. ^ Aerofiles
  2. ^ FAI records search record file number #17236
  3. ^ a b A Tale of Two TrophiesSeeley, Brien, EAA arvhives
  4. ^ , The CAFE FoundationOrder from Chaos

External links

  • Images of Catbird at AirVenture
  • Catbird returns to Oshkosh, JAMES WYNBRAND, 2011
  • Burt Rutan's Catbird
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