The Rutan VariViggen is a homebuilt aircraft designed by Burt Rutan. The aircraft is a tandem two-seater of primarily wooden construction with a delta wing and a canard foreplane. The VariViggen is powered by a 150 hp Lycoming O-320 aero engine in pusher configuration. The prototype was designated Model 27, and the production version was Model 32.

Rutan VariViggen
Role Homebuilt light aircraft
Manufacturer Rutan Aircraft Factory
Designer Burt Rutan
First flight April, 1972
Status < 5 flying
Primary user private owners
Number built ~20
Variants VariEze

Design and developmentEdit

The VariViggen was named after the Swedish fighter plane, the Saab 37 Viggen. This and the XB-70 Valkyrie inspired the design. Rutan became interested in aircraft which resisted stalls and spins, and the VariViggen was his first full scale design. He began working with the design as a student at Cal Poly in the early 1960s, and started building the prototype in his garage in 1968. After four years of work, the aircraft made its first flight in April, 1972. In order to increase efficiency, the Model 32 (also known as the VariViggen SP) had a slightly longer fuselage, a larger wingspan and winglets.

The Rutan Aircraft Factory sold 600 plan sets for the VariViggen to homebuilders, and eventually about 20 of the aircraft were built. Following the crash of one in New Brunswick, Canada in September 2006 due to wing tank fuel contamination,[1] fewer than five are currently still flying. The prototype aircraft, N27VV, can be seen in the 1975 movie Death Race 2000 and was eventually donated to the EAA AirVenture Museum in 1988.

Rutan also began work on an all-aluminum variant, the MiniViggen, but later abandoned the project and focused his efforts on the VariEze.

Specifications (original outer wing panel)Edit

Data from Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1976–77[2]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 1 passenger
  • Length: 19 ft 0 in (5.79 m)
  • Wingspan: 19 ft 0 in (5.79 m)
  • Wing area: 119 sq ft (11.1 m2)
  • Aspect ratio: 3:1
  • Empty weight: 950 lb (431 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 1,700 lb (771 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 35 US gal (29 imp gal; 130 L)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming O-320-A2A air-cooled flat-four, 150 hp (110 kW)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed Hegy wooden fixed-pitch, 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) diameter


  • Maximum speed: 163 mph (262 km/h, 142 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 125 mph (201 km/h, 109 kn) (econ cruise at 7,000 ft (2,100 m))
  • Never exceed speed: 180 mph (290 km/h, 160 kn)
  • Range: 400 mi (640 km, 350 nmi) (max fuel, 30 minutes reserve)
  • Service ceiling: 14,000 ft (4,300 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,200 ft/min (6.1 m/s)
  • Take-off run to 50 ft (15 m): 950 ft (290 m)
  • Landing run from 50 ft (15 m): 600 ft (180 m)


  1. ^ Aviation Investigation Report A06A0092, Transportation Safety Board of Canada, September 17, 2006
  2. ^ Taylor 1976, p. 530

External linksEdit