Elements of Entrepreneurial Expertise
New Horizons in Entrepreneurship series
Chapter 1: What I Set Out to Study and Why
This book is a reconstruction of my journey to understand entrepreneurship as a form of expertise. The day I oﬃcially began writing this book – 21 June 2004 – was, quite by chance, the day SpaceShipOne made history as the ﬁrst successful, privately funded, manned commercial space ﬂight. On that day, under the command of test pilot Mike Melvill, SpaceShipOne reached a record-breaking altitude of 328 491 feet (approximately 62 miles or 100 km), making Melvill the ﬁrst civilian to ﬂy a spaceship out of the atmosphere and the ﬁrst private pilot to earn astronaut wings. SpaceShipOne embodies many of the elements I want to write about. The story of SpaceShipOne1 is tied up with the story of its designer, Burt Rutan. Rutan built his ﬁrst ﬂying model at age 10. His father was a dentist who teamed up with four other pilots to buy his own plane, and his brother, Dick Rutan was a decorated Air Force pilot who served in Vietnam. Rutan earned a degree in aeronautics from California Polytechnic University in 1965, joined the Air Force testing new airplanes, and in 1972 became director of Bede Aircraft’s test center in Kansas. In 1974, he moved his family into the Mojave desert and went into business for himself. His ﬁrst venture, Rutan Aircraft Factory, developed light aircraft and served the home-built plane market by developing and selling planes. He formed Scaled Composites in 1982 to develop proof-of-concept prototype aircraft for a variety of customers including Boeing and the Department...