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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedDick Rutan to receive key to city
By Barbara A. Schmitz, EAA AirVenture Today

Photo by Bonnie Kratz
Dick Rutan speaks at the Aviation Hero Stage in the EAA AirVenture Museum during a past AirVenture.

July 27, 2009 - Oshkosh, WisconsinSome 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 and happiness.

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 airplane.

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 of Honor.

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.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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