BÖLKOW Bö 208A-3 « JUNIOR » canopy
The Rutan Aircraft Factory designed and built beautiful aircraft... but some of its other works are much less known.

Type: custom molded bubble canopy



Significant date: circa 1977

Robert Natzke, of Porterville, California, owned a 1963 Bölkow Bö.208A-3 Junior called "Lufttänzer" (Airdancer) (N7004V, c/n 541), which he used primarily to go cloud-chasing with his son Walter: "Our primary adventures involved cumulus clouds. Dad and I used to watch for those days when the big, puffy, cumulus clouds were floating lazily across the sky of our southern San Joaquin Valley hometown of Porterville. I'd get a call and hear Dad's voice on the line saying, "Let's go shoot down the clouds." We'd get to the airport as quick as we could and take off. Often, the clouds were higher than they looked from the ground and it would take a fair while to get up to altitude. Once there, we would fly around, over, under, through the clouds. But it was a wonderful experience with my father."

Bob Natzke had met Burt Rutan when he had brought his Variviggen to the Porterville Moonlight Fly-in. At that time Rutan was in production on the VariEze kits, and was set up to make their bubble canopies. As Natzke's original canopy was damaged, a replacement was specifically made by Burt Rutan who customized a jig and made the new one, simplifying the design by removing the glazed rear panel. This is of course the unique example of this original Rutan design. The aircraft has changed hands several times, but it is still registered and can be seen flying in the Great Lakes area.

Population: 1 custom-made canopy for [N7004V]

Main source:
- 1000aircraftphotos.com

Close-up on Rutan's shortened bubble canopy design (top),
compared with standard canopy and glazed rear panel (bottom)