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Friday, Jan 27, 2023
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Aviation Pioneer’s Next Frontier … Model Planes

If flying an actual spaceship isn’t in your immediate future, RutanRC has the next best thing. The Mojave company is developing radio-controlled models of two of aviation pioneer Burt Rutan’s most famous aircraft – SpaceShipOne and the White Knight. In 2004, SpaceShipOne took to the skies more than 320,000 feet above Mojave twice in a two-week period to win the $10 million X Prize for achievements in aerospace. The WhiteKnight was the carrier aircraft that took SpaceShipOne up for launch. RutanRC is running a month-long Kickstarter program to raise funds from interested hobbyists. A week after the campaign started, about $70,000 of the $220,000 goal had been raised, said Dan Kreigh, chief model builder. “The point behind the program is for people to be inspired and explore with their model and go beyond what they can do,” Kreigh said. Development of the models is being done in Mojave while details of the manufacturing are still being worked out. It is the intention to do partial assembly of the models in China and final assembly in the U.S. The models, which will be sold for $299 a pair, are expected to be available in November through the RutanRC website and retail stores. Kreigh is a lifelong model airplane builder who saw his first Burt Rutan designed airplane in his early teens out in Mojave. A love of model airplanes is something he shares with the 71-year old Rutan. Rutan is the founder of Scaled Composites, an aircraft development company at the Mojave Air & Space Port that built SpaceShipOne and White Knight. It is now a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corp. Rutan retired from Scaled in 2011 but hasn’t removed himself from aviation. In addition to running RutanRC, he is currently designing a seaplane, Kreigh said. The radio-controlled version of SpaceShipOne is powered by a fan and measures 27 inches from nose to tail and has a wingspan of 16 ½ inches. The White Knight will have a wingspan of 6 feet. The aircraft can be flown separately or attached with the ability for the radio control operator to drop SpaceShipOne from the mother ship as happened in 2004. The SpaceShipOne model mimics the actual spacecraft right down to the use of a “feathering” reentry system that has the wing and tail fold upward to slow the aircraft and descend into a steep glide. “It comes out pretty quick and you need to be on top of it to recover,” Kreigh said. “It is the only model airplane I know to do that.” Big Rebate With plans to add several hundred more employees at its Woodland Hills headquarters, financial software developer BlackLine turned to some help from the California Competes Tax Credit program. The company received $1.1 million in credits that it will use in the 2018 and 2019 tax years; it was one of just 93 companies statewide to receive them in April by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, or GO-Biz. The total tax credits issued was $69 million. The amount of the tax credit given to the companies is tied to future capital investment, employee growth and economic impact to the state. “The state wants to do something to keep business growing and not leaving the state,” said Chuck Best, the chief accounting officer. “We are happy with what we were able to get.” At BlackLine, which has about 200 employees in the San Fernando Valley, an agreement with the state requires a net increase of 454 employees by 2019. The company currently occupies space on three floors of a 12-story building on Victory Boulevard. “We have the right to occupy other areas as we grow so we have locked that down,” Best said. Blackline was founded in 2001 by Therese Tucker, the chief executive. The company develops account-reconciliation and financial close software used businesses in a variety of industries, including aluminum-wheel manufacturer Superior Industries International Inc., in Van Nuys, and drug maker Amgen Inc., in Thousand Oaks. BlackLine has three other offices in the U.S., two in Europe and one in Australia. Best attributed the company’s growth to its aggressive push into cloud computing, which makes its software and its client’s data available to any client computer connected to the Internet. “We are not creating anything new but we did create a new platform for it,” he said. Another Woodland Hills company, EntroGen Inc., also received tax credits in the amount of $320,000. It makes diagnostic tests used by labs to detect different types of cancer. The company will add up to 15 employees over the next five years, according to the agreement made with the state. Chief Exeuctive Matthew Minkovsky said the jobs require a specialized scientific training and skills sets that the state would like to see grow in the area. “Traditionally the Valley is not a biotech hub so they are happy to see us here,” he said. Other companies receiving the tax credits are Japanese light-rail manufacturer Kinkisharyo USA Inc. with operations in Palmdale for $417,000; aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp. with operations in Woodland Hills and Palmdale for $10 million; aerospace air duct systems manufacturer Senior Operations SSP, in Burbank, for $100,000; online educational services provider Lynda.com Inc., with operations in Calabasas, for $750,000; and entertainment company Viacom International Inc., with operations in Burbank, for $1 million. Staff Reporter Mark R. Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or mmadler@sfvbj.com

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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