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Dick Rutan Breaks a Promise

America's Forgotten Heroes

The Daily Wire


53.9K Ratings

🗓️ 7 July 2021

⏱️ 74 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


By the mid 1980s, all of the aviation records that had so challenged the imaginations of pilots and the public alike had been achieved… except for one. Lindbergh had crossed the Atlantic. Aircraft had flown to both poles. Even the vast Pacific had been conquered. American jet bombers had flown around the world, but only after multiple refueling events. The only thing left to do that had not been done was to fly around the world, non-stop, on a single tank of gas. Dick Rutan had been a fighter pilot over Vietnam. He and his friend Mike Melville, who would go on to become the first private citizen in space, had flown around the world in the starkly original, otherworldly aircraft designed by his younger brother, Burt Rutan. Together with a relatively inexperienced pilot named Jenna Yeager, Dick Rutan started to plan for this impossible flight, assuming that his legendary younger brother could design a plane that could do it. The result was a bizarre, insect-like creation named Voyager; a flying fuel tank with about as much interior space as a telephone booth. At 8:01 am Pacific on the morning of December 14th, 1986, Dick Rutan and Jenna Yeager sealed themselves into Voyager and took off from Edwards Air Force base in California’s Mojave Desert and headed west. The plan was for each pilot to fly three hour legs, but it immediately became clear that Voyager was so fragile and unstable that Dick would do virtually all of the flying. The world had marveled at Charles Lindbergh for remaining awake for his 33 hour flight, but when Voyager, which had taken off into the west, arrived over Mojave coming in from the east, Dick Rutan had been flying for 216 hours pretty much non-stop. The last of the great aviation records had fallen due to the courage, endurance and persistence of Dick Rutan and the design genius of his brilliant younger brother, Burt. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

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Aviation has traveled fast and far in the eventful years since the moment of Orville


rights first flight in 193. From then to now the history of aviation has been a


record of magnificent achievement. America first to conquer the air has given


wings to the world.


In a life is not easy when you have the kind of spirit that Dick Rutan was both


gifted and plagued with. Aviation legends have made their names not by


merely breaking records but by setting milestones and there's a difference.


For instance Charles Lindbergh became the most famous man in the world when he


flew the first non-stop solo flight from New York to Paris on May 20th through


the 21st of 1927.


A mid-a blizzard of ticker-tate New Yorkers poured out their admiration and


affection for a quiet hero whose solo flight led the way for the thousands of


routine crossings that were to follow. This day the world belonged to Lucky




That was a milestone. Now since then hundreds of millions of people have broken


his record. We fly from New York to Paris today in a bit over seven hours at a


speed of 550 miles an hour but you can't take away the milestone that's


forever. But by the early 1980s all of the milestones have been reached. The


all-time altitude record well considering that men had already landed on the


moon by then that was out of reach as was the 25,000 miles per hour speed needed


to get there. But there was one left. Now no one had done it because it wasn't


possible to do. No one had ever flown around the world without stopping and


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