Events

June 30, 2014

CAP Squadron 84 visited by Dick Rutan

Tags:
Rebecca Amber
Edwards AFB, Calif.

Edwards AFB Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron 84 Cadets were visited by famous aviator Dick Rutan at their weekly meeting, to hear about his experiences as a cadet, an airman and his round-the-world flight in the Voyager.

Edwards AFB Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron 84 Cadets were visited by famous aviator Dick Rutan at their weekly meeting June 24.

“I am Dick Rutan and I flew around the world,” said Rutan. Then he told his story from the beginning, growing up in Northern California, the son of a dentist and a World War II Navy veteran. It was in his teen years that Rutan learned to ride motorcycles and fly airplanes. At 19 years old, Rutan’s father sent him to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, to become an aviation cadet.

Rutan considered it an honor to join the Air Force, he wanted to distinguish himself as a combat pilot. He looked up to the people who had flown bombers in World War II, despite their high loss rate. For every four pilots sent out, only one would return from the skies over Nazi Germany.

“How in the world do you get back in an airplane the next day and do it again,” Rutan would ask himself. “I can’t imagine that human beings could have that kind of courage.”

Then he began to ask himself if he could have that kind of courage. On his first combat mission he realized that someone else had “the audacity” to shoot at him.

“That very instant will define you as a warrior,” said Rutan. And for him, being a warrior was very addictive. In fact, Rutan flew 325 combat missions in Vietnam as a tactical air command fighter pilot. Of those missions, 105 were as a member of a high-risk, classified operation known as the “MISTY’s.” The MISTY’s flew F-100 Super Sabres in strike reconnaissance missions.

On his final strike reconnaissance mission in 1968, Rutan was hit by enemy ground fire and forced to eject from his burning F-100. He escaped enemy capture and was later rescued. His next experience with combat would be during the Cold War. He spent four years flying F-100s with a one megaton thermonuclear hydrogen bomb on the center line pylon.

His mission was to deliver that bomb somewhere east of the Iron Curtain on a target. Though he never did need to drop a bomb, the fact that the bombs were there, was enough for the enemy to give up and “liberty was preserved again.”

That was the culmination of his Air Force career, “Twenty years in one microsecond.”

After leaving the Air Force, Rutan came to Mojave, Calif., where he built and flight tested airplanes with his brother, Burt. One day, his brother suggested that Rutan fly all the way around the world non-stop and non-refueled. The key to accomplishing this task would be the use of carbon fiber.

Capt. Kevin Finster (left) Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron 84, Cadet Programs deputy commander, presents Dick Rutan (right) with the Squadron 84 patch to show their appreciation for his presentation.

And so the two brothers, along with Jeana Yeager, set three goals for themselves, fly un-refueled, do it first and get credit for it. After all, “a milestone only counts if you do something significant first.”

In 1924, a Douglas World Cruiser completed the first transglobal flight and in 1949, a Boeing B-50A “Lucky Lady II” made the first non-stop, round-the-world flight with the assistance of aerial refueling.

The team, and volunteers, spent five and a half years planning and building the Voyager. The aircraft was designed to carry three-quarters of its weight in fuel, leaving only one-quarter of the weight for the aircrafts structure, supplies and passengers. As such, the crew became “fanatical” about weight savings.

The cockpit was designed just large enough for Rutan and Yeager to survive the flight and the required 48 hours after landing, to make it into the record books. The final structure was only 926 pounds and carried 3.6 tons of fuel.

“I hated this airplane,” said Rutan. “It was the most horrible flying qualities airplane.”

It was a cold December morning when Voyager took off, using 95 percent of the world’s longest runway at Edwards AFB. Rutan had not slept much the night before that historic flight, and as the aircraft began to roll down the runway, he thought he would die, that continuing the mission would be suicide.

“But then I looked at all those volunteers who had believe in us, some of them had lost their jobs to be there. So how do you get out and walk away from them,” Rutan asked himself. “But the thing that really capped it, was if I get out of this airplane right now and walk away, I could be alive, but I’ve got to shave the face of some guy that gave up for the rest of his life.”

As the Voyager struggled to lift, her wingtips dragged along the runway. When she finally reached flight, the wingtips were damaged and both dislodged themselves from the wings resulting in a three-foot loss in the wingspan.

Rutan presented each cadet with a signed bobble head of himself from last year’s Jet Hawks Aerospace night to show his appreciation for the cadets, who have provided flightline marshalling and public safety at The Mojave Transportation Museum’s Plane Crazy Saturday’s in Mojave, Calif., throughout the last year.

Three and a half days into the flight Rutan recalls being so tired, he would have given anything to land. Then he remembered what his mother had always told him, “If you can dream it, you can do it. The only way to fail is if you quit.”

Nine days, three minutes and 44 seconds after take-off, the Voyager returned to Edwards.

Today, the Voyager hangs on display at the National Air and Space Museum, and on occasion, Rutan will visit her.

“Without exception I walk in and, probably out loud, say, ‘I built that [airplane] and I flew it around the world,’” said Rutan. Adding that he’s the only person who can saw those words and as it turned out, “that’s the only thing that mattered.”

After sharing his story, Rutan presented each cadet with a signed bobble head of himself from last year’s Jet Hawks Aerospace night. The bobble heads represent Rutan’s appreciation for the cadets, who have provided flight line marshalling and public safety at The Mojave Transportation Museum’s Plane Crazy Saturday’s in Mojave, Calif., throughout the last year. The cadets also provided similar services at the Los Angeles County Air Show at the William J. Fox Airfield in Lancaster, Calif., last March.

Civil Air Patrol is a non-profit Congressionally-chartered community service organization and an auxiliary of the Air Force. One of the Civil Air Patrol’s main focuses is Cadet Aerospace Education.

“Who better, than to have Mr. Rutan share how his very own historical flight came to be,” said Capt. Gail Harper, CAP Public Affairs officer. “I grew up in Dayton, where the Kitty Hawk is and heard so much about the Wright brothers’ historical airplane and flight. I learned how to play golf at the Kitty Hawk golf course. He really reminded me of the Wright brothers. The way that he and Burt started with an idea and a design and began building until, the next thing you know, they had an airplane.”

CAP Squadron 84’s mission is to build future leaders through teaching the cadets community service, aerospace education, emergency services and cadet programs.

“I was so impressed by Mr. Rutan’s modesty in his aerospace achievements,” said Harper. “He proved that you must believe in and follow your dreams, to pursue an education in math and sciences, no matter your gender.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines March 4, 2015

News: Pentagon: Another BRAC will save money - Pentagon planners have a new pitch to lawmakers skeptical of a fresh round of base closings: We promise we’ll save money this time.   Business: China’s new C919 will begin test flights this year - China’s new superjet will take to the skies for the first time later this...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Jensen Stidham

World War II pilot reunited with P-47

Air Force photograph by SrA. Jensen Stidham Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel, laughs while under the wing of a P-47 Thunderbolt during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 2...
 
 

News Briefs March 4, 2015

General: 8,500 Islamic State fighters killed in Iraq so far The U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq has killed more than 8,500 Islamic State fighters since its bombing campaign began in August, the top general overseeing the coalition said March 3. Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said the Islamic State, which...
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Turning up the heat

Lockheed Martin photograph Lockheed Martin ATHENA laser weapon system defeats a truck target by disabling the engine, demonstrating its military effectiveness against enemy ground vehicles. Latest evolution of Lockheed Martin l...
 
 

USO Visit

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara Actor Vince Vaughn speaks with Edwards Airmen and 412th Security Forces Squadron members at the base library before introducing an advance screening of his new movie, “Unfinished Business,” at the base theater Feb. 28.
 
 

Sikorsky S-97 RAIDERô team begins final assembly of second aircraft

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., announced March 4 the start of final assembly of the second S-97 RAIDERô helicopter at the company’s Development Flight Center. Along with a team of industry suppliers, Sikorsky is developing two RAIDERô prototypes to demonstrate the revolutionary new capabilities in improved maneuverability and flight speed. The...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>