Mojave Air & Space Port Adds Rutan Brothers to its Name

Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan pose for a photo in front of the SpaceShip2 resting under the Mothership WhiteKnight2 inside a hangar in Mojave, Calif. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — The Mojave Air and Space Port has renamed itself to honor aviation and space pioneers Burt and Dick Rutan. The facility in California’s High Desert is now known as the Mojave Air and Space Port at Rutan Field.

“Whereas, Burt Rutan and Dick Rutan have made significant contributions in experimental aviation design, fabrication, and flight test at Mojave Air and Space Port, with their combined contributions resulting in first flights of over sixty unique experimental aircraft, including one twenty-year period with an average of a first flight of a new manned research type every eight and a half months,” the Board of Directors said in a resolution passed last month.


Mojave Air & Space Port Appoints Interim CEO

Mojave Air and Space Port (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The Mojave Air and Space Port’s Board of Directors has appointed former board member David Evans as interim CEO to replace Karina Drees.

Evans will serve in the post under a consulting contract while the board searches for a permanent replacement for Drees, who is leaving the position on Jan. 4.

Evans resigned from the board in October after serving for more than six years. He was originally appointed to the board in April 2014 to replace Dick Rutan, who resigned to pursue a business opportunity.

Evans is a certified public accountant and principal in Evans & Company, Inc., of California City. He is a commercial pilot and licensed flight instructor.

Drees is moving to Washington, D.C., to serve as president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. She had served as CEO and general manager of the spaceport since January 2016. Prior to that, Drees served as deputy general manager under Stu Witt for three years.

Mojave to Celebrate First Long EZ Flight

Burt Rutan (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Mojave will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first flight of the Rutan Long EZ aircraft this week during the monthly Plane Crazy Saturday event.

40th Anniversary of the First Flight of the Rutan Long EZ
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019
10 am to 2 pm

  • Static Aircraft Display – Historic Aircraft Display Day
  • Guest speakers presentation by Burt Rutan, Dick Rutan and pilot Mike Melvill at 11 am at the Stuart O. Witt Event Center
  • Luncheon and raffle at the Witt Center at 1 p.m.
  • Art, shirts, hats, books & collectibles for sale 
  • Voyager Restaurant opens at 7 a.m

Tickets for the fund-raising luncheon are $30. Reserve your today at .

Future Imperfect: The Ansari XPrize, SpaceShipOne & Private Spaceflight

how_make_spaceship_coverHow to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, An Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight
by Julian Guthrie
Penguin Press, 2016
Hardcover, 448 pages
ISBN 978-1-59420-672-6
US $28/Canada $37

Reviewed by Douglas Messier

On Sept. 8, I arrived home at about half past noon to find a package sitting on my doorstep. It was a review copy of a new book by Julian Guthrie about the Ansari XPrize and SpaceShipOne titled, How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, An Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight.

I laughed. The timing was perfect. Ken Brown and I had just spent five hours in the desert — most of them in the rising heat of a late summer day — waiting for WhiteKnightTwo to take off carrying SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity on its first captive carry test flight.

It was the first flight in nearly two years of a SpaceShipTwo vehicle since Unity’s sister ship, VSS Enterprise, had broken up during a Halloween test flight, killing co-pilot Mike Alsbury. Ken and I had been there on that day, too.


Dick Rutan Wins 2016 Inspiration Award

Video Caption: Dick Rutan was the winner of the 2016 Inspiration Award at the Endeavor Awards. Dick is a pilot’s pilot and has inspired us all as he pushes the boundaries of aviation. Congratulations Dick!

2014 in Review: Mojave’s Difficult Year

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)
Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

“2014 will be a fun ride. We welcome you to get onboard, strap in and hold on!”

Stu Witt

CEO & General Manager
Mojave Air and Space Port
Jan. 9, 2014

Stu Witt had a lot of reasons to be optimistic as 2014 began. The Mojave spaceport was on a roll. On Jan. 10, Scaled Composites conducted the third powered flight of SpaceShipTwo in less than 9 months. XCOR was making steady progress on the Lynx and a new hydrogen engine for ULA, Stratolaunch was busy building the world’s largest aircraft, and other tenants such as Masten and Firestar had successes over the past year.


Dick Rutan to Talk About Historic Voyager Flight on Saturday

Voyager aircraft (Credit: NASA)
Voyager aircraft (Credit: NASA)

Aviator Dick Rutan will mark the 28th anniversary of his non-stop round-the-world flight with a talk on Saturday at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The event begins at 11 a.m. in the board room of the Mojave airport administration building. Get there early; seats are limited.

Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager flew the Voyager aircraft on a 9-day flight around the world, landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California on Dec. 23, 1986. The airplane was designed and built by Dick Rutan’s brother, Burt.

Stu Witt to Remain Head of Mojave Spaceport for Extra 6 Months

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)
Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO/General Manager Stu Witt is postponing his retirement by six months.

Witt had planned to step down no later than July 1, 2015. However, last week the Mojave Spaceport Board of Directors approved a six month extension until January 2016.

The extension is apparently related to the board’s meandering effort to replace Witt, who announced his intention to step down last year. Board President JoAnn Painter told the Antelope Valley Press the board is still working on a “template for managing the succession” that would be put into place six months before Witt departs.


Dick Rutan Resigns From Mojave Spaceport Board

Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Long-time Mojave Air and Space Port board member Dick Rutan has resigned from that body, citing a business opportunity he had become involved in that could present a conflict of interest with his governing duties.

“It has been challenging and rewarding to be part of this team as we have transitioned from an airport to a Space Port, and it is with a heavy heart that I separate myself from this incredible assemblage of visionaries, fellow flyers and friends,” Rutan wrote in his resignation letter.

The board has appointed David Evans to replace Rutan. Evans is a certified public accountant and principal in Evans & Company, Inc., of California City. He is also vice present and chief financial officer of Boardwalk Motor Car Group of Redwood City, Calif. Mr. Evans is a commercial pilot and licensed flight instructor. He served as mayor of California City, where he resides, from 2006 to 2008.

Rutan is the second board member to resign in the past month. Marie Walker left the board in March, citing pressing business issues. She was replaced by Bill Deaver.

Correction: We originally misreported the name of the person appointed to replace Dick Rutan on the board. We regret the error.

Mojave Spaceport: 24 Months of Inaccurate Financial Reports

mojave_tower_sunset_smBy Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Mojave Air and Space Port’s former Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Erika Westawski, provided officials with 24 months of inaccurate accounting reports before resigning abruptly last month on the eve of a delayed audit, spaceport CEO and General Manager Stu Witt said on Tuesday.

The investigation into the inaccurate financial reports and Westawski’s sudden departure is continuing, Witt told the spaceport’s four directors during its monthly meeting. The independent auditors of Lance, Soll and Lunghard have been retained to review accounts, and a more detailed report is expected for the April board meeting, he added.


Mojave Spaceport Board: And Then There Were Four

Marie Walker

The Mojave Air and Space Port’s Board of Directors is now down to four.

Long-time board member Marie Walker has resigned, citing pressing business concerns, Board President Dick Rutan announced on Tuesday.

Walker is founder and chief executive officer of Fiberset Inc., a composite manufacturing company located at the airport.

A notice on the airport’s website says that the Board of Directors will appoint a replacement for Walker. The appointment will be made no earlier than April 1 and no later than May 11.






Mojave Board Renames Pool Building After Stu Witt

Credit: Douglas Messier
The Stuart O. Witt Event Center. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Mojave residents can officially say goodbye to the Pool Building on Poole Street (No Relation).

The Mojave Air and Space Port Board of Directors voted on Tuesday to rename the structure after CEO and General Manager Stu Witt, who spearheaded the renovation of the building where military pilots once underwent emergency water egress training.

The Stuart O. Witt Event Center will host its first public gathering next month when the Antelope Valley Board of Trade holds its Business Outlook Conference on Feb. 21.


Plane Crazy Saturday’s Fate Still Up in the Air

The fate of Plane Crazy Saturday remained up in the air Tuesday as the Mojave Transportation Museum (MTM) and the board of the Mojave Air and Space Port came no closer to resolving their differences over the monthly event.

At issue is a new $100 monthly fee that the spaceport has imposed upon MTM to cover security and liability costs. Officials say that the fee is more than fair because other groups that use the airport are charged much more. Officials from the transportation museum say they will not pay to volunteer their time for an event that promotes the airport.

That’s where things have stood for months — and nothing changed on Tuesday during the spaceport board’s monthly meeting.  Both sides restated their positions without budging an inch. As a result, this week’s Plane Crazy Saturday could be the very last one in Mojave.


Mojave Spaceport to Extend Utilities to North Side Test Area

Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Tenants on the north side of the Mojave Air and Space Port will be getting power, water and high-speed fiber services early next year under a $1.3 million project approved by the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors on Tuesday.

Chief Operating Officer Kevin Wojtkiewicz estimated that the work could take two to three months to complete.


Mojave Medical Center Donates Device to Spaceport Firefighters

Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

MOJAVE (MMC PR) — A medical device that will help crash-rescue firefighters at the Mojave Air and Space Port treat medical patients was donated to the East Kern Airport District by the directors of the Mojave Community Medical Center, Inc. (MMC) Tuesday.

The pulse-oximeter allows firefighters to check the amount of oxygen and in a patient’s blood, expressed as a percentage, plus the patient’s pulse rate, said MMC President Bill Deaver.