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Rutan standing next to the engine of the XCOR EZ-Rocket
July 1, 1938 |
Loma Linda, California
|Alma mater||Reedley Junior College|
|Occupation||Air Force pilot, test pilot|
|Known for||Record-breaking aviator|
|Spouse(s)||Geri Rutan (divorced)
|Parent(s)||George and Irene Goforth Rutan|
“Killer” (USAF)KB6LQS (FCC)
Richard Glenn "Dick" Rutan (born July 1, 1938) is a retired United States Air Force pilot and record-breaking aviator who piloted the Voyager aircraft around the world non-stop with co-pilot Jeana Yeager. He was born in Loma Linda, California, where he gained an interest in flight at a young age. He is the older brother of aerospace designer Burt Rutan.
U.S. Air Force
He began his military career joining the Air Force Aviation Cadet Program at age 19, later becoming an Air Force lieutenant. 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 when his “Hun” F-100 Super Sabre aircraft was hit. Rutan had to eject a second time in his Air Force career when his aircraft suffered an engine failure over England.
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 attracted world wide media coverage and set multiple records.
In 1997, Dick Rutan and Mike Melvill flew two Long-Eze aircraft that they built 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.
Campaign for congress
In 1992 Rutan ran as a conservative Republican against Democratic congressman George Brown, Jr. in California's 42nd congressional district; comprised mostly by 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 once more 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 Voyager (which consisted of multiple distance records, a speed 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 bomber in 1962), he has also set a number in his personal Long-EZ, including:
- FAI class C1b distance over a closed course of 7,725.3 km at Mojave on December 15, 1979.
- FAI class C1b distance of 7,344.56 km from Anchorage, Alaska to Grand Turk Island on June 5, 1981.
Awards and honors
Military decorations and medals
- Silver Star
- Distinguished Flying Cross with four oak leaf clusters (5 awards)
- Air Medal with three silver oak leaf clusters (16 awards)
- Purple Heart
- National Defense Service Medal
- Vietnam Campaign Medal
- Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon
- Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
- 1981 - Louis Bleriot Award - distance record
- 1986 - Presidential Citizens Medal from Ronald Reagan (with the rest of the Voyager team: Jeana Yeager and Burt Rutan)
- 1986 - Collier Trophy (with Voyager team)
- 1986 - De la Vaulx Medal
- 1987 - Louis Bleriot Award - around-the-world flight
- 1988 - Edward Longstreth Medal of the Franklin Institute
- 2002 - National Aviation Hall of Fame inductee
- 2005 - Louis Bleriot Award - longest point-to-point rocket plane flight (XCOR EZ-Rocket)
- 2013 - Flying magazine ranked him (along with Jeana Yeager) No. 33 on their list of the 51 Heroes of Aviation.
- Jill Rutan Hoffman - Home
- Newman, Rick; Shepperd, Don; McCain, John (2006). Bury Us Upside Down: The Misty Pilots and the Secret Battle for the Ho Chi Minh Trail (1. ed.). New York: Presidio Press/Ballantine Books. ISBN 9780345465375. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
- 92 PRESIDENTIAL and CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION STATISTICS
- "FAI Record ID #8389 - Distance" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 14 September 2014.
- "FAI Record ID #10908 - Speed around the world, non-stop and non-refuelled" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 14 September 2014.
- "FAI Record ID #13910 - Distance" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 14 September 2014.
- "FAI Record ID #1898 - Distance over a closed course" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 14 September 2014.
- FAI database[dead link]
- "FAI Record ID #1899 - Distance, Anchorage - Grand Turk" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 14 September 2014.
- FAI records database[dead link]
- "Franklin Laureate Database - Edward Longstreth Medal 1988 Laureates". Franklin Institute. Retrieved November 21, 2011.[dead link]