Rutan’s canard self-launching sailplane attracted much attention when it won the Sailplane Homebuilders Association Design Contest in 1982. The engine, with electric starter for air starting, erects from and retracts into a bay in the forward fuselage by means of electro-hydraulic power. The canard configuration is intended to make the ship virtually stall-proof as the canard stalls before the main wing, causing the ship to pitch nose-down and preventing the main wing from stalling. That, however, does not mean that mishandling cannot cause very high sink rates. The main wing has trailing edge flaps which also operate as spoilers by the leading edge coming above the top surface of the wing when deploying. The effective spoil flap trailing edge surfaces provide good glidepath control.
The Solitaire is a single-place, self-launching canard sailplane developed for recreational soaring, Landing gear is tandem wheels with wingtip rollers. It features a KSM 107-E. 22-hp engine and a retractable propeller. Its structure is all-composite, with prefab molded fuselage shells.
By 1990 the Rutan design stable of VariEze, LongEze, Defiant and Solitaire were no longer offered for sale.
L/D Max: 32 93 kph / 50 kt / 58 mph
Min Sink: 0.75 m/s / 2.5 fps / 1.48 kt
Wing span: 12.7 m / 41.75 ft
Wing area: 9.52 sq.m / 102.44 sq.ft
Empty Weight: 172 kg / 380 lb
Payload: 109 kg / 240 lb
Gross Weight: 281 kg / 620 lb
Fuel capacity: 5 USG
Wing Load: 39.52 kg/sq.m / 6.05lb/sq.ft
Aspect ratio: 10.78
Airfoil: wing inboard, Roncz 517, outboard 515
Min. flying speed 32 kts
Vmax 115 kts
L/D 32:1 @ 50 kts
Sink rate 150 fpm @ 40 kts
Takeoff run 960 ft
Landing roll 500 ft