The Champaign Aviation Museum will host Lt. Col. Dick Rutan at the Champaign Aviation Museum’s annual fundraising gala April 23. Rutan was a fighter pilot, test pilot, and holds aviation records. Most famously he flew the aircraft “Voyager” around the world in December of 1986. It was a record-setting flight, as it was non-stop and non-refueled, and the record still stands today.
Rutan flew 325 missions in Vietnam, 105 of them as a member of the Super Sabre Forward Air Control, a high-risk operation commonly known as the “MISTY’s.” He was hit by enemy ground fire on his last mission and was forced to eject from his burning F-100, to be rescued later. Before retiring from the Air Force in 1978, he was awarded the Silver Star, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, 16 Air Medals and a Purple Heart.
In 1998 he attempted an around the world record-setting flight suspended under a balloon in a pressurized capsule. The record flight ended dramatically with an emergency parachute jump after a dangerous fabric tear to the balloon.
In July 2002 Rutan was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. He continues to break aviation records. Most recently he set a world distance record in the EZ Rocket, a rocket-propelled aircraft. He also sits on the board of the Mojave Air and Spaceport in Mojave, California.
The museum also welcomes the singing group The Boyer Sisters. The three sisters are a well-rounded trio performing in tight three-part harmony. They focus on old-time songs, Broadway classics and various spirituals. In April of 2015 they performed at the USS Alabama in Mobile in front of veterans and crowds for the 50th Crew Reunion. In June of 2015 they released their first full album.
B-17 restoration’s 10-year anniversary
The Champaign Aviation Museum has reached a major milestone. Ten years ago, in January of 2006, the first volunteers began work on the B-17 Flying Fortress restoration project. It didn’t have a name yet, but would eventually be known as the “Champaign Lady.” The project looks quite different than it did 10 years ago when the trucks were rolling in, hauling the pieces of twisted and damaged aircraft. Volunteers who come from all over Ohio, and even from other parts of the USA, have worked over 140,000 hours since the beginning.
Gala reservations and information
Cost of the April 23 gala is $125 per person and goes to support the museum and the B-17 restoration. To reserve seats or to find out more, visit www.ChampaignAviationMuseum.org or call the museum at 937-652-4710.
Submitted by the Champaign Aviation Museum.