The plans built Defiant was in a lot of ways a prototype or proof of concept, as Burt Rutan was known for not “finishing” or iterating his early designs into a production aircraft. In fact, Burt’s claim to fame was quickly flying new ideas and furthering aerospace technology, not getting bogged down in a single airframe. Even so, Burt’s Defiant, N78RA, was his personal transport and favorite airplane until he came out with the Boomerang.
The Defiant project that I am working on was started by Brian Martinez at least as early as 1995. In many of the documents and reports that I now have, Brian refers to the airplane as a “Defiant Derivative Airplane,” (DDA). It was his interpretation of what the likely next iteration in the development of the Defiant that Burt designed. As such, it has a molded fuselage that was lofted from spinner to spinner instead of the traditional slab sided fuselage with rounded corners of the usual Rutan fuselage of the era. It also has winglet mounted rudders, and the fuselage is slightly larger due to the lofting. Brian designed and manufactured his own nose gear and actuation to improve over the manual Mooney gear the plans uses.
So far, I have found Brian’s workmanship to be impeccable. The Airplane seems to be built extremely light. Everything composite in the airplane is molded, even the headrests.
Unfortunately, Brian passed away in April of 2020. The Martinez family was left with a huge void and Brian’s DDA was left without its creator. Brian’s wife, Arleen decided that the best chance the DDA had of flying was to sell it to an interested builder who would finish and fly the airplane. I was lucky enough to find out about the project and struck a deal with Arleen.
In June, two of my good friends, Brian and Travis went with me to go and load up the airplane and bring it to my hangar in Phoenix. Trailering an airplane is never fun, much less one of this size over 415+ miles through southern California traffic. But we were able to get the project to its new home unscathed.
Since then, I have been working on the airplane, mostly with engine cooling installations. So I have some progress to blog about. Those posts will come as soon as possible. I also need to finish some content for a page about the airplane, the build process, and Brian, which will be posted here as I have time. Luckily, I was given historical photos and documents that Brian created. I think most of you will get a kick out of what’s all there, Brian took a lot of time to document his build and thoughts. Below is an example of his detailed drawings.
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