The Canard Mystique

"Fup Duck"In the beginning... ok, it was sometime after that, there were ducks, then there were Frenchmen, no the Frenchmen did not evolve from ducks, but they named them "canards"...the ducks not the Frenchmen 

Much later the Wright brothers built an aeroplane, the wing was in the middle, the rudders in the rear and the elevator out front. It was a canard


The Evolution

Along comes Burt Rutan with some new ideas about how an aeroplane should be designed and built. 

First of the new canard designs was the Variviggen around 1968 inspired no doubt by the Swedish Saab-Viggen fighter

VariEzeThen the VariEze in 1975 that is still "The Mouse that Roared" with one that has recorded speeds as high as 247 mph on 200 cubic inches











Photo Credit: NASA

And his final single engine homebuilt canard design; the Long-Ez. People are still scrambling to buy available plans for these personal fighter aircraft when they show up on E-Bay.

Burt's final two homebuilt designs were the Solitair motorglider:

The Defiant twin engine canard with centerline thrust as shown by this great example built by Harry Manvel:













The Revolution


Not to leave a good thing alone, several people saw a good thing and ran with it in the same direction. All the homebuilt canard aircraft to this point were tandem seating configuration putting the passenger in the back seat. Nat Puffer, already a VariEze builder/flyer and enthusiast of the whole canard idea thought to widen a long-Ez just a bit in the front seat to squeeze his wife, Shirley, in the front with him. The word got out and the "Cozy" was born as a three passenger canard then the rear seat was widened to accommodate two passengers and the Cozy Mk-IV took off.


In support of Nat Puffer's Cozy Mk-IV, a builder down in Florida began making kit parts for the Cozy, this became AeroCAD and eventually lead to their own version of the Cozy entirely in kit form; the Aerocanard. The business and assets of AeroCAD Changed hands in 2005 and moved to Missouri.


Other variants were the two side by side in the front seat, humongous automotive V8 in the back seat "E-Racer" performance oriented canard by Shirl Dickey pictured below:

and the very high performance Long-Ez derived kit "Berkut" shown below:

The shapely but  frequently bankrupt SQ-2000 kit is still around.


The only all new entirely from scratch design was the line of canard aircraft kits from Velocity.

A German company came out with a very sexy certified aircraft in the form of the Speed Canard which unfortunately never lived up to the expectations of its name:

And finally there are plans available for a wooden plans built, VW powered canard in France called the IBIS.

Dangerous Parallels 

The militarys of the world have not missed out on the intrigue of the canard configuration, the most successful of them being the Swedish Saab Viggen fighter aircraft. The Japanese came up with their own experimental canard fighter during WWII and the US had their own attempt.

Photo credit: USAF Museum Photo Archives

Going full circle, Burt came up with one that actually worked! The ARES was seen repainted black in the movie Iron Eagle III and flown by the evil baron and yet to be first civilian astronaut, Mike Melvill

Photo credit: Scaled Composites

Photo credit: Max Dereta


Significant Departures

Some individuals have gone even further on their own:

Klaus Savior Delaminator; nearly 250 mph VariEze with a 200 cu in engine

Steve Wright's AWESOME Stagger Ez has set a new standard for custom canard aircraft. Steve's award winning plane was a feature article in Sport Aviation October 2005

Photo credit: Steve Wright

Perry Mick RX rotary powered ducted fan EZ. After many iterations exploring this configuration Perry has added a PSRU and conventional propellor

Photo credit: Perry Mick

Al Wick Subaru powered Cozy

Greg Richter RX powered Cozy III

Greg Richter's awesomely swoopy Jet Cozy

Photo Credit: Greg Richter

XCOR rocket Long-Ez

Mike Melvill & Dick Rutan Long-Ez's around the world flight

The Leon brothers, Ruben and Carlos's twin Suzuki powered Cozy from Venezuela, they flew this plane all the way to Oshkosh!
They squeezed two engines side by side, coaxial drive shafts turning counter-rotating propellers, at 8000 ft it will do 110kts on a single engine.