The October 4, 2004 New Yorker magazine carries an interesting article by Ian Parker about Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne, which won the X-Prize. Rutan discusses his concern during the first flight that his friend Mike Melvill, 63, might have been killed.
“I’d have lost a friend. You could say, ‘I should pick a pilot who I’m less friendly with, a guy who’s a stranger to me and just working for me, so if he gets killed…'” [Rutan] smiled. “You could say, ‘Let’s have a lawyer fly it'”–a pause–“‘or a liberal.'”
Rutan is quite expansive on the uselessness of the federal government, especially as evidenced by the spectacle of NASA’s inefficiency. Ian Parker inserts some balance by noting that Rutan operates from the Mojave airport, a recent recipient of $3.9 million from the FAA to improve taxiways.