Dick Rutan, aviator and adventurer, made "the world's longest flight" in the airplane "Voyager", the first airplane to circumnavigate the globe without refueling.
Dick Rutan, aviator and adventurer, made "the world's longest flight" in the airplane "Voyager", the first airplane to circumnavigate the globe without refueling. In realizing his dream, with desire and determination, Dick successfully completed the mission which would earn him world records, international fame and a place in the Smithsonian Institute.
On the morning of December 14, 1986, a fuel-laden Voyager took off on the history making flight. Nine days, three minutes and forty-four seconds later, Dick set the storm-battered Voyager down on the dry lakebed at Edwards AFB in California, successfully completing a six year quest.
Four days following the historic flight of the Voyager, President Ronald Reagan awarded Dick the Presidential Citizen's Medal of Honor at a special ceremony. The medal has been presented only sixteen times in the history of the United States. The Voyager is now proudly suspended in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's "Milestones of Flight" gallery in our nation's capital.
In 1995, Dick Rutan attempted to make the first ever flight around the world in a balloon in the "Global Hilton" having received his balloon pilot's license in 1995. After three hours into the flight, the balloon's helium cell ruptured (due to a manufacturer's defect) and the attempt ended. Floating at 30,000 feet, the crew was able to reduce the altitude to a safer 6,000 feet, and then dramatically bail from the crippled craft. The capsule landed unmanned in Texas and burst into flames.
A second capsule called "World Quest" was built with a new constrained helium lifting system (super pressure style). Although it held promise of success in balloon world flight, the World Quest project ended when a rival team captured the milestone in March 1999.
From April 4th to June 24th 1997, Dick completed The Spirit of EAA Friendship World Tour, along with flight lead, Mike Melvill. This "Around the World In 80 Nights" flight was completed in two small experimental Long-EZ aircraft that Dick and Mike built side by side almost twenty years ago.
In May 2000, Dick Rutan was a last minute addition to a sightseeing airplane trek to the North Pole. The biplane, a Russian AN-2 Antonov, landed beautifully on the glass-like ice but, within seconds, the joyride was headed for disaster. Unseasonably thin, the ice quickly began to stress and crack under the weight of the plane. A quick power-up to go around and locate a thicker spot on the ice resulted in the aircraft suddenly dipping nose first through the ice, sinking toward the freezing ocean and certain death. The wings of the AN-2 suspended the aircraft so the crew could retrieve their survival equipment that was packed in the rear of the sinking plane. For more than a dozen hours, the crew was stranded at the top of the world before being rescued by a Twin Otter from First Air.
In 200l, Dick Rutan became the chief test pilot for XCOR and flew the first-ever rocket powered experimental long F7.
In July 2002, Dick Rutan was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, OH. This enshrinement honored Dick and three other Americans "whose heroism helped define 20th Century America".
In 2003, Dick Rutan was elected as a director of the East Kern Airport District (EKAD). With the recent launches and successes of Dick's brother, aerospace engineer Burt Rutan's "SpaceShipOne, the EKAD has attained status of Spaceport as well. Dick is proud to be a governing member of this newly emerging space tourism industry.
In June 2003, Dick Rutan became an Eagle at the Gathering of Eagles in Montgomery, AL. This prestigious honor was his in 1988, two years after the Voyager flight and they brought him back for a second induction to honor his service in the Air Force. He joined the ranks with aviation and space greats including Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan, Neil Armstrong and Pete Conrad.
Dick's love of flying began in his youth, and he received both his pilot's license and his driver's license on his sixteenth birthday. At nineteen, Dick joined the Air Force Aviation Cadet Program. He was commissioned Lieutenant and later received a Bachelor of Science Degree at the American Technological University through the Air Force Professional Education "Boot Strap" Program.
As a Tactical Air Command fighter pilot during most of his two decades in the Air Force, Rutan flew 325 combat missions in Vietnam, 105 of them as a member of a high-risk classified operation commonly known as the "MISTY's". While on his last strike reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam in September of 1968, he was hit by enemy ground fire, and forced to eject from his burning F-100. Dick evaded enemy capture and was later rescued by the Air Force's "Jolly Green Giant" helicopter team. Before retiring from the Air Force in 1978, Lt. Col. Rutan had been awarded the Silver Star, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, 16 Air Medals and the Purple Heart.
After retirement, Dick joined his brother, Burt, as Production Manager and Chief Test Pilot for Rutan Aircraft Factory. Dick Rutan flew the test flight development program of many military and civilian experimental aircraft and set numerous world speed and distance records in his Long-EZ, a popular Rutan designed home-built airplane. Dick was awarded the Louis Bleriot Medal by the prestigious Federation Aeronautique Internationale during a ceremony in Brussels in recognition of these record-setting flights.
In early 1981, Dick Rutan resigned from his brother's company and founded Voyager Aircraft, Inc., and prepared to complete the first-ever around the world non-stop non-refueled flight.
Banquet honors local 4.0 seniors
Edwards Air Force Base
As the daughter of world famous pilot, Dick Rutan, and niece of revolutionary aeronautical designer, Burt Rutan, Jill Rutan Hoffman has witnessed many aviation firsts. From the milestone-setting Voyager flight of 1986 to the X-Prize winning space ...
Aviation is about to get its next Charles Lindbergh moment
Washington Post (blog)
Uh, not to take too much away from accomplishments, but not even Dick Rutan's epic flight was the game-changer that Lindberg's was, nor have any modern-era aviators achieved the enormous celebrity & wealth that came Lindberg's way. Good promotion of ...
HITS & MISSES: Kern on brink of another air milestone
Or the breathtaking spectacle in 1986 of Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager piloting the Voyager, designed by Dick's brother, Burt, in the world's first around-the-world, nonstop flight without refueling? If all goes according to plan today, SpaceShipTwo will ...
EPS of New Richmond adds to board
EPS has secured the support of aircraft industry leaders, including world record pilot Dick Rutan (EPS Flight Test Advisor) and received a $2.95 million U.S. Air Force Rapid Innovation Fund Grant to help continue the development of the Vision 350 engine.
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