Photo by Bonnie
Dick Rutan speaks at the Aviation Hero Stage in the EAA AirVenture
Museum during a past AirVenture.
July 27, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin - Some
people believe that success is the key to happiness; Dick Rutan believes
the opposite is so, that happiness is the key to success. And he should be
happy tonight, when he receives one more key that symbolizes his success
Oshkosh Mayor Paul Esslinger will present
Rutan “The Key to the City” at 8 p.m. at Theater in the Woods. The
award was created by EAA and the city of Oshkosh in 2002 to honor
distinguished personalities for contributions to the promotion and support
of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and the aviation community.
Rutan has been synonymous with aviation, EAA,
and AirVenture since the beginning. He received his solo pilot’s
certificate and driver’s license on his 16th birthday and at 19, he
joined the Air Force Aviation Cadet Program.
As a Tactical Air Command fighter pilot during
most of his two decades in the Air Force, Rutan flew 325 combat missions
in Vietnam, 105 of them as a member of a high-risk classified operation
commonly known as MISTY. Lt. Col. Rutan received the Silver Star, five
Distinguished Flying Crosses, 16 Air Medals and the Purple Heart.
After the Air Force, Dick joined his brother,
Burt, as production manager and chief test pilot for Rutan Aircraft
Factory. Rutan flew test flights of many types of experimental aircraft,
both military and civilian. In addition, he set numerous world speed and
distance records in his Long-EZ, a popular Rutan designed homebuilt
In 1981, he left the Rutan Aircraft Factory
and founded Voyager Aircraft to complete the first world flight. In 1986
he achieved his goal, flying Voyager non-stop with Jeanna Yeager around
the world in nine days, three minutes and 44 seconds—without refueling.
Four days later, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the Citizen’s Medal
In 1997, Rutan completed The Spirit of EAA
Friendship World Tour, along with flight lead Mike Melvill. This “Around
The World In 80 Nights” flight was completed in two small experimental
Long- EZ aircraft that the two men built side by side two decades ago.
Rutan set another record in 2005 when he flew
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, and the National Aeronautics Association recognized the flight.
Rutan has several appearances scheduled
throughout the fly-in convention. Check www.airventure.org/schedule/ or EAA
AirVenture Today to find out where and when he will be speaking.