Richard Glenn Rutan
July 1, 1938
|Alma mater||Reedley Junior College|
|Occupation||Air Force pilot, test pilot|
|Known for||Record-breaking aviator|
|Spouse(s)||Geri Rutan (divorced) |
|Call sign||"Killer" (USAF) KB6LQS (FCC)|
Richard Glenn Rutan (born July 1, 1938) is a retired United States Air Force officer and fighter pilot, test pilot, and record-breaking aviator who in 1986 piloted the Voyager aircraft on the first non-stop, non-refueled around-the-world flight with co-pilot Jeana Yeager. He was born in Loma Linda, California, where he gained an interest in flying at a young age. He is the older brother of famed aerospace designer Burt Rutan, whose many earlier original designs Dick piloted on class record-breaking flights, including Voyager.
U.S. Air Force
After completing the Radar Intercept Officer Course, Rutan served as a McDonnell F-101B Voodoo Radar Intercept Officer with the 322d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Kingsley Field, Oregon, from December 1959 to September 1961, and then as a Northrop F-89 Scorpion Radar Intercept Officer with the 57th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Keflavik Airport, Iceland, from September 1961 to October 1962. His next assignment was as a Douglas C-124 Globemaster II navigator with the 85th Air Transport Squadron at Travis AFB, California, from October 1962 to November 1965. He underwent Undergraduate Pilot Training, earning his Pilot Wings at Laughlin AFB, Texas, in December 1966.
Rutan served during the Vietnam War as one of the founding members of the "Mistys" of Operation Commando Sabre, pioneering the use of tactical jets as a "FastFAC" (known as forward air control) for the FAC Airborne mission, which searched for and marked targets with white phosphorus rockets ahead of the strike package. He flew 325 missions but had to eject one time, when his "Hun" North American F-100 Super Sabre aircraft was hit.
His next assignment was as an F-100 pilot with the 492nd Tactical Fighter Squadron and as a Flight Test Maintenance Officer with the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, England, from November 1968 to April 1972. Rutan had to eject a second time in his Air Force career when his aircraft suffered an engine failure over England.
He then served as a Flight Test Maintenance Officer with the 3030th Support Squadron at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, from April 1972 to May 1975, followed by service as an LTV A-7 Corsair II pilot and Commander of the 355th Field Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, from May 1975 to August 1976. After completing an Operation Bootstrap degree program, Rutan served as Chief of the Training Division with the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB from January 1977 until his retirement from the Air Force on June 1, 1978.
During his career with the Air Force, Rutan was awarded the Silver Star, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, 16 Air Medals, and a Purple Heart. He retired from the Air Force in 1978 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Post military career
From December 14 to December 23, 1986, Rutan flew with Jeana Yeager on the first unrefueled non-stop flight around the world in the Rutan Voyager, a design by his brother Burt. The flight took 9 days, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds and covered 24,986 miles (40,211 km). It attracted world wide media coverage and set multiple records. That same year, Yeager and the Rutan brothers were awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Aero Club, the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Ronald Reagan, and the Collier Trophy for their achievement.
In 1997, Dick Rutan and Mike Melvill flew two personally-built Rutan Long-EZ kit aircraft side-by-side around the world. This "around the world in 80 nights" flight was called The Spirit of EAA Friendship World Tour, and some legs of it lasted for over 14 hours.
On December 3, 2005, in the EZ-Rocket, Rutan set the point-to-point distance record for a ground-launched, rocket-powered aircraft, flying 16 km from Mojave, California, to California City, California, in just under ten minutes. This was also the first official delivery of U.S. Mail by a rocket-powered aircraft. In recognition of this achievement, the FAI awarded Rutan the 2005 Louis Blériot Medal.
In 1992 Rutan ran as a conservative Republican against Democratic congressman George Brown, Jr. in California's 42nd congressional district, consisting mostly of the San Bernardino region of southern California and viewed as a swing district. In the Republican primary, Rutan upset San Bernardino County Supervisor Rob Hammock, who had run a strong race against Brown in 1990. In the general election, Rutan ran on a platform that called for reforming Congress and lowering taxes. Brown, first elected in 1962, was long known for surviving close elections and prevailed with 79,780 votes (50.7%) to Rutan's 69,251 (44%). Fritz Ward, a Libertarian, received 8,424 votes or 5.3% of the vote.
Besides the records Rutan set while flying the XCOR EZ-Rocket (which consisted of a point-to-point distance record and being the first official delivery of U.S. Mail by a rocket-powered aircraft) and while flying Voyager (which consisted of multiple absolute distance records, an airspeed record, and being the first plane to fly non-stop and unrefueled around the world, more than doubling the old distance record set by a Boeing B-52 strategic bomber in 1962), he has also set a number in his personal Rutan VariEze and Long-EZ, including:
- FAI class C1b distance over a closed course of 2,636 km at Oshkosh, Wisconsin circa July–August, 1975
- FAI class C1b distance over a closed course of 7,725.3 km at Mojave, California on December 15, 1979
- FAI class C1b distance of 7,344.56 km from Anchorage, Alaska to Grand Turk Island on June 5, 1981
Rutan believed that by engaging in a program of breaking class records he could further fine-tune his brother's homebuilt aircraft designs.
Awards and honors
Military decorations and medals
|US Air Force Senior Pilot Badge|
|Distinguished Flying Cross
w/ Valor device and 3 bronze oak leaf clusters
|Distinguished Flying Cross
(second ribbon required for accouterment spacing)
w/ 3 silver oak leaf clusters
|Air Force Commendation Medal
w/ 1 bronze oak leaf cluster
|Air Force Presidential Unit Citation|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
w/ Valor device
|Combat Readiness Medal||National Defense Service Medal|
|Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal||Vietnam Service Medal
w/ 3 bronze campaign stars
|Air Force Longevity Service Award|
w/ 1 silver and 2 bronze oak leaf clusters
|Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon||Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross||Vietnam Campaign Medal|
- 1981 - Louis Bleriot Medal - distance record[verification needed]
- 1986 - Presidential Citizens Medal (with the rest of the Voyager team: Jeana Yeager and Burt Rutan)
- 1986 - Collier Trophy (with Voyager team) - for "the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics"
- 1986 - De la Vaulx Medal (with Yeager) - around-the-world flight in Voyager
- 1987 - Louis Bleriot Medal - around-the-world flight
- 1987 - National Air and Space Museum Trophy (with Yeager)
- 1988 - Edward Longstreth Medal of the Franklin Institute
- 2002 - National Aviation Hall of Fame inductee at the National Museum of the United States Air Force
- 2005 - Louis Bleriot Medal - longest point-to-point rocket plane flight (XCOR EZ-Rocket)
- 2011 - International Air & Space Hall of Fame inductee at the San Diego Air & Space Museum
- 2013 - Flying magazine ranked him (along with Yeager) No. 33 on their list of the 51 Heroes of Aviation
- 2022 - Mojave Air & Space Port is renamed "Rutan Field" in honor of the Rutan brothers' contributions
- "About Jill". Jill Rutan Hoffman. Archived from the original on 2013-10-08.
- Newman, Rick; Shepperd, Don; McCain, John (2006). Bury Us Upside Down: The Misty Pilots and the Secret Battle for the Ho Chi Minh Trail. New York: Presidio Press/Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0345465375. Archived from the original on 2006-08-21. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
- Richard G. "Dick" Rutan - Super Sabre Society Biography
- "Biography". www.dickrutan.com.
- "Dick Rutan The Frontiers of Flight – The Last Great World Record". 10 October 2014.
- Deaver, Bill (2005-12-22). "XCOR EZ-Rocket makes more history at CalCity". Mojave Desert News.
- FAI Records Archived March 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- "92 PRESIDENTIAL and CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION STATISTICS". clerk.house.gov.
- "FAI Record ID #8389 - Distance Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 14 September 2014.
- "FAI Record ID #10908 - Speed around the world, non-stop and non-refuelled Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 14 September 2014.
- "FAI Record ID #13910 - Distance Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 14 September 2014.
- "FAI Record ID #1898 - Distance over a closed course Archived 2015-07-22 at the Wayback Machine" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 14 September 2014.
- FAI database[dead link]
- "FAI Record ID #1899 - Distance, Anchorage - Grand Turk Archived 2016-01-07 at the Wayback Machine" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 14 September 2014.
- FAI records database[dead link]
- "Collier 1980-1989 Recipients - NAA: National Aeronautic Association". naa.aero.
- "Franklin Laureate Database - Edward Longstreth Medal 1988 Laureates". Franklin Institute. Archived from the original on December 10, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
- Sprekelmeyer, Linda, editor. These We Honor: The International Aerospace Hall of Fame. Donning Co. Publishers, 2006. ISBN 978-1-57864-397-4.
- "51 Heroes of Aviation".
- "Mojave Airport Honors Rutan Name". AINonline. January 21, 2022. Retrieved August 7, 2022.