NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodEdwards Air Force Base / Rosamond / Mojave

Actions

Aviation community gathers to pay tribute to Dick Rutan

Over 300 people gather at Mojave Air and Space Port to celebrate the life of Dick Rutan, who died last month
Posted at 8:51 PM, Jun 15, 2024

MOJAVE, Calif. (KERO) — Friends share fascinating stories of Mojave's famous pilot Dick Rutan during a celebration of life at Mojave Air and Space Port.

  • Nell Rutan, the sister of Dick Rutan, shares stories about his brother and expresses gratefulness for the support the community shows.
  • In 1986, Rutan piloted Voyager around the world with no stops in nine days.
  • Col. Douglas Wickert said he often used the Voyager flight during his time as a professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

They came to honor the man known for a nonstop flight around the world.

More than 300 people gathered at Mojave Air and Space Port to celebrate the life of Dick Rutan.

I'm Steve Virgen, your neighborhood story.

His friends heard fascinating stories about the famous pilot who died last month... and was known for his patience and strong desire to achieve new feats.

“This is where they all started doing their big stuff and there’s still people here that love them dearly and that is very, very important to the Rutan family.”

Nell Rutan, the sister of Dick Rutan, felt love in the room for her late brother. People spoke about how Rutan inspired them. Col. Douglas Wickert and test pilot Zach Reeder both said the Voyager flight had a great influence on them when they were young.

“There was no government funding. It was because it was there. And that had a profound impact on me,” said Zach Reeder, a test pilot for JOBY Aviation.

In 1986, Rutan and Jeana Yeager piloted Voyager around the world in nine days, taking off from and landing at Edwards Air Force base.

Wickert said he referred to the flight as a professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The take-off proved challenging and probably should have been aborted, Wickert said.

“He was clearly a pilot’s pilot and he always had an intuitive sense for max performing delicate aircraft. He had a feeling he could safely get airborne and it turned out he was proved right,” Wickert said.

Burt Rutan, Dick’s younger brother, attended another memorial for Dick in Washington that took place on Saturday. He spoke in a recorded video, saying that he bonded closely with Dick over the past three years, while both lived in Idaho.

“For those years, Dick and I did everything together. Everything we did, we did together,” Burt said.

Kelly Hall wrote a book with Rutan about his life. She spoke about the final time she spoke to Rutan.

“I told him that I would do my best to keep his project and achievements alive. I told him that I would miss him and I loved him. He said: I love you too, kid,” Hall said.

Kelly Hall says there's interest from Netflix to make his autobiography into a movie.

I'm Steve Virgen, your neighborhood reporter.


Stay in Touch with Us Anytime, Anywhere: