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Sun, Jun 08, 2008

WhiteKnightTwo Rollout At Mojave To Be Celebrated At AirVenture 2008

Hmmm... Interesting....

The Experimental Aircraft Association says the blogosphere is abuzz with reports of Virgin Galactic's recently sent invitations to selected individuals for a progress report and a rollout of WhiteKnightTwo on July 28 at Mojave Spaceport in California. EAA says these reports foreshadow a parallel media event and follow-up engagements with EAA members and visitors at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008, July 28-August 3.

"I can absolutely confirm that the Virgin Galactic event, which takes place during the opening day of AirVenture, will have ties back to Oshkosh, both real-time and throughout the week," said EAA President and AirVenture Chairman Tom Poberezny. "We've been in regular communications with our friends at Virgin Galactic and its partner organization, Scaled Composites, to coordinate."

Poberezny added the Virgin Galactic team -- including Virgin Group owner Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn, and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan -- will arrive at AirVenture the following day (Tuesday, July 29) to speak and interact with EAA members and event visitors.

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo are significantly expanded and modified progeny of the original White Knight and SpaceShipOne, which seized the $10 million Ansari X-Prize in the fall of 2004 for making the world's first qualifying, privately funded flights into suborbital space within two weeks. As many ANN readers are aware, those vehicles later made their only public flight demonstrations at AirVenture 2005, before SpaceShipOne was permanently enshrined in the National Air and Space Museum.

If we were to engage in some wild-eyed extrapolation -- and, what the heck, it's a slow news day -- we might ask what the odds are AirVenture 2008 attendees could witness a flight of WhiteKnightTwo.

Alas, conventional wisdom says slim to none, given that the Mojave announcement makes no mention at all about a possible flight... nevermind a cross-country trip to Wisconsin.

Still... EAA coyly notes it "will announce more details regarding the Virgin Galactic story at AirVenture as they are finalized," and the word "conventional" isn't one we'd apply to Scaled...

"This unfolding story of space tourism reflects directly on the EAA community and the environment of pioneering and innovation that it has always promoted," Poberezny said. "Burt Rutan, the genius behind the designs of the White Knights and the SpaceShips, and numerous other innovative aircraft, is a lifetime member of EAA who got started as part of EAA's amateur-built aircraft movement.

"We're proud of the accomplishments of Burt, of the Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic teams, and of every EAA member who lives the dream of passionate participation in aviation."

Again... hmmm...

FMI: www.scaled.com, www.airventure.org

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