Record-breaking aviator Dick Rutan — pilot of the first non-stop, unfueled flight around the world — came to Paso Robles last Saturday, Feb. 11, and visited the Estrella Warbirds Museum at 4251 Dry Creek Road.
Rutan, whose original arrival into the Paso Robles Airport was scheduled for Feb. 9, had to reschedule due to poor weather conditions. Having made his way here to the Central Coast to visit a long-time friend, Rutan spent the day socializing with members of the community as well as discussing future plans and opportunities with the Estrella Warbirds’ Board of Directors, said the Warbirds’ Public Information Officer Michael Levine.
“We came here to hang out with some other aviation people and support the museum,” Rutan said. “It is always important to maintain aviation and the airplanes and so forth. It is kind of our history. As you can see on my airplane — the American Flag — I’m somewhat patriotic.”
Born in Loma Linda, Calif., Rutan developed an interest in flight at a young age. At just 19, he joined the Air Force Aviation Cadet Program, and by the end of his time serving in the Vietnam War, had advanced to an Air Force lieutenant position. Throughout his career, Rutan has also acted as a test pilot and has flown multiple new aircraft designs.
Among his many records set while flying the Voyager, Rutan has also been distinguished with countless awards and honors, including a 1986 Presidential Citizens Medal from Ronald Reagan, a 1987 Louis Bleriot around-the-world flight award and as a 2002 National Aviation Hall of Fame inductee.
The Estrella Warbirds Museum, a not-for-profit California corporation, is dedicated to restoring, preserving and maintaining the history of aviation equipment. The museum, along with help from several affiliates, aims to not only honor the past, but also raise awareness and educate future generations to come.
“A lot of people think that all the things that could be invented have been invented,” Rutan said. “But, we are just on the frontier of discovery and invention. It’s a very exciting time.”
With years of immeasurable experience beneath Rutan’s belt, the Estrella Warbirds Museum was more than proud and excited for the opportunity to meet and share this bit of history with such an aviation legend.
For more information on the Estrella Warbirds Museum, call 805-238-9317.
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