Legendary Combat Pilot and Adventurer Dead

(TheLastPatriotNews.com) – Dick Rutan, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran who, accompanied by co-pilot Jeana Yeager, achieved a historic feat in aviation — completing the first non-stop, unrefueled circumnavigation of the globe — has passed away.

See photos of Dick Rutan below!

Rutan died last Friday evening at a hospital in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

His brother Burt Rutan and other close family members were present. He was 85 years old.

His friend Bill Whittle relayed that Dick chose to forego prolonged medical intervention after suffering from a severe lung infection, deciding to die on his own terms.

Burt Rutan praised his brother’s piloting skills, comparing his finesse to that of a musician with a grand piano. Dick was often noted for his remarkably smooth flying technique, The Associate Press informs in a report.

From a young age, Burt had a passion for designing aircraft and was particularly captivated by the concept of a plane capable of circumnavigating the globe. His brother shared an equal enthusiasm for flying.

It took six years to realize the project of flying around the globe without refueling.

During the testing phase of the lightweight graphite aircraft named Voyager, Burt faced numerous anxieties.

The plane he designed exhibited mechanical vulnerabilities, any of which could prove catastrophic over vast ocean stretches. When fully fueled, the aircraft struggled with turbulence.

Moreover, there were concerns about the pilots’ ability to sustain such an extended flight with minimal rest.

However, Burt remarked that his brother’s optimism was contagious and instilled a collective belief in their success.

“Dick never doubted whether my design would actually make it around, with still some gas in the tank,” Burt Rutan stated.

The Voyager embarked from Edwards Air Force Base in California shortly after 8 a.m. on December 14, 1986.

Upon their return, the crew was met with a rapturous reception as thousands gathered to celebrate the landmark achievement.

Both Rutan brothers and Yeager were honored with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Ronald Reagan.

Richard Glenn Rutan was born in Loma Linda, California. He joined the U.S. Air Force as a teenager and served over 300 combat missions during the Vietnam War.

Greg Morris, president of Scaled Composites, recalled first meeting Dick Rutan as a child and admired his enduring generosity and hospitable nature.

“Bigger than life, in every sense of the word,” Morris remarked, reflecting on Rutan’s extensive contributions to the Vietnam War, aircraft testing, and the Voyager expedition.

“Any one of those contributions would make a legend in aviation. All of them together, in one person, is just inconceivable,” he added.

Whittle noted Rutan’s bravery and composure during his final moments in the hospital, maintaining his wit and speculating on the afterlife.

“He’s the greatest pilot that’s ever lived,” Whittle proclaimed.

Dick Rutan is survived by his wife Kris Rutan of 25 years; daughters Holly Hogan and Jill Hoffman; and grandchildren Jack, Sean, Noelle, and Haley.


Copyright 2024, TheLastPatriotNews.com