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Inspiration | Patriotism | Adventure | Future
Voyager Aircraft's non-stop and un-refueled flight around the world in December of 1986 placed Mojave proudly on the map and placed Dick Rutan in the history books.
In December of 2005, Mr. Rutan set another world record. This record was set in the EZ-Rocket for the longest distance in a ground launched rocket powered aircraft. He flew from the Mojave Spaceport to the California City Airport. Touted as the "shortest long distance flight," this record is recognized by the National Aeronautics Association (NAA), and is in the record books. On board that flight, he carried mail to be delivered to California City, as well as American flag patches and flight covers that would be sold to raise money for The Dick Rutan Scholarship Fund, a fund that awards multiple scholarships each year. In April of 2006, he was awarded the NAA "Most Memorable Flight of 2005" award in Washington, DC for the flight from the Mojave Spaceport to the California City Airport. Also, for that record setting flight, he was awarded the Louis Bleriot Medal in November of 2006. This prestigious medal was established in 1936 in memory of Louis Bleriot, a great aviation pioneer.
In 2003, Dick Rutan was elected as a director of the East Kern Airport District (EKAD). With the launches and successes of Burt Rutan's (Dick's brother) SpaceShipOne, the EKAD has attained status of Spaceport as well. He is proud to be a governing member of this newly emerging space tourism industry. In June of that year, he became an Eagle at the Gathering of Eagles in Montgomery, Alabama. 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 will join the ranks with aviation and space greats including Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan, Neil Armstrong, Pete Conrad, and other flyers that include Pappy Boyington, Joe Engle, and many others.
In July of 2002, Mr. Rutan was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. This esteemed enshrinement honored him and three other Americans "whose heroism helped define 20th Century America."
In 2001, Dick Rutan became the chief test pilot for XCOR and has been flying the first-ever rocket powered experimental Long EZ (pronounced Long Easy). Named the EZRocket, this air vehicle has not only set a world record, but the proof of concept is also setting the future for rocket travel and the intensifying sport of rocket powered aircraft racing.
Since Voyager's world flight, Mr. Rutan has been traveling the world on the lecture circuit, telling his tale of the magnificent Voyager project and flight and of the North Pole adventure. The Voyager story is one of tremendous courage, of vision, and of adventure and is often referred to as 'aviation's last first.'
Dick Rutan received both his solo pilot's license and driver's license on his sixteenth birthday. At the age of nineteen, he joined the Air Force Aviation Cadet Program, was commission 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, Mr. 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. He 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 Rutan joined his brother, Burt Rutan, as Production Manager and Chief Test Pilot for Rutan Aircraft Factory. He 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. He was awarded the Louis Bleriot Medal by the prestigious Federation Aeronautique Internationale during a ceremony in Brussels, Belgium 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. 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, he set the storm-battered Voyager down on the dry lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base in California, successfully completing the six-year quest. The Voyager is now proudly suspended in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's "Milestones of Flight" gallery in our nation's capitol.
Four days following the historic flight of the Voyager, President Ronald Reagan awarded Mr. Rutan 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.
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