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Richard Glenn "Dick" Rutan (born July 1 1938) is an aviator who piloted the Voyager aircraft around the world non-stop with the assistance of Jeana Yeager. He was born in Loma Linda, Californiamarker, where he gained an interest in flight at a young age. On his 16th birthday, he was busy earning both his driver's license and pilot certificate.

Air Force service

He soon began a military career, joining the Air Force Aviation Cadet Program at age 19 and later becoming a lieutenant in the Air Force. Rutan served during the Vietnam War, and flew 325 missions including a 105-mission tour as Misty 40 of Detachment 1, 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Misty FACs). He twice ejected from jet aircraft: On 17 August 1967 in Vietnam when his F-100F was hit (he was rescued), and a second time when his aircraft suffered an engine failure over England. Through his career, he was awarded the Silver Star, five Distinguished Flying Cross, 16 Air Medals, and a Purple Heart.

Voyager project

Following military service, Dick headed an aircraft company with his brother Burt Rutan. It was during a 1981 lunch meeting at California's Mojave Inn that the Voyager project was conceived: Dick and Jeana Yeager met with Burt Rutan to discuss their idea of starting an aviation company. During lunch, they spoke of creating an aircraft that could fly nonstop around the world. Burt, an aircraft designer, sketched on a napkin the plane design that would enable Dick and Jeana Yeager to break the flight distance record of 12,532 miles (20,168 kilometers) set by a B-52 Stratofortress bomber in 1962. To realize Burt's design, they assembled a team of more than 50 and refined — over the next nearly six years — Burt's original design, a process which included testing and studying a variety of lightweight materials. The team eventually selected a combination of graphite, fiberglass, and Kevlar for Voyager's main structure.

Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager took off in Voyager on December 14, 1986 from Edwards Air Force Basemarker's 15,000 foot (4570 m) runway. They struggled throughout the flight with weather, stress, and the continuing demand for fuel. They were even denied access to the airspace above Libyamarker. Finally, after 9 days, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds of flight, they touched down on December 23 with only a few gallons of fuel remaining. The 24,986-mile (40,211 km) trip yielded Rutan and Yeager numerous awards.

Other aviation projects

In 1990, Rutan attempted to repeat the round-the-world feat in a balloon, but failed in that attempt. In 1997 Dick and Mike Melville flew around the world in two Rutan Long-EZ aircraft, with some legs of the trip extending over 14 hrs. in length.

Campaign for congress

In 1992 Rutan ran as a conservative Republican against Democratic congressman George Brown, Jr. in California's 42nd congressional district. The district comprised most of the San Bernardinomarker region of southern California and was viewed as a swing district. In the Republican primary, Rutan upset San Bernardino Countymarker 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%). A Libertarian received 8,424 votes or 5.3% of the vote. [68216]

Records

Besides the records Rutan set while flying Voyager, he has also set a number in his personal LongEze, 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, Alaskamarker to Grand Turk Islandmarker on 5 Jun 1981.


Awards



References

  1. FAI database
  2. FAI records database


External links




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