Dick Rutan, legendary Dinuba-raised aviator, passes at 85.

Rutan and his brother, famed aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan, led the Voyager project that led to the famed first non-stop worldwide flight.

Dick Rutan, an aviator raised in Dinuba and known for achieving the first nonstop flight around the world , has passed away at the age of 85 on Friday.

Rutan, along with co-pilot Jeana Yeager, completed the historic round-the-world flight in 1986 in the Voyager, a light graphite plane designed by his brother, Burt Rutan.


A man of feats: Rutan’s flight took nine days and three minutes, making it a significant milestone in aviation history as it was the first nonstop and non-refueled circumnavigation.

  • Rutan, a decorated Vietnam War pilot, died at a hospital in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, with loved ones by his side. He passed away from a severe lung infection for which he had chosen not to endure further treatment.
  • Known for his smooth flying style, Rutan was described as playing an airplane like someone playing a grand piano.
  • The Voyager project, from design to testing, took six years. There were challenges and doubts along the way, but Rutan’s optimism and belief in his design led to the successful flight.
  • Rutan’s achievements were recognized with numerous awards, including the Presidential Citizens Medal, presented by President Ronald Reagan.
  • In addition to his historic flight, Rutan set another record in 2005 when he flew about 10 miles in a rocket-powered plane launched from the ground.
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