Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dick Rutan makes forced landing.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Dick Rutan, the daredevil pilot who completed the first nonstop, unrefueled flight around the world, made an emergency landing after reporting engine trouble on his plane while flying to a memorial service for a friend.
Rutan was flying solo from Mojave to Palm Springs, California, when his Cessna 150M had engine trouble, forcing him to land safely on a small road in the desert city of Victorville around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Rutan said he walked away without a scratch.
«I got a healthy shot of adrenaline,» he told The Associated Press by telephone from his home in Lancaster, California.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was investigating the emergency landing. Rutan said that shortly after takeoff, the cylinders in the single engine blew.
«It was sudden, catastrophic and inexplicable,» Rutan said. «The engine was totally destroyed.
Fortunately, he was flying below 1,000 feet (300 meters). He said he managed to land about eight miles (13 kilometers) from the Victorville Airport.
«This was a major incident. If I had been over the clouds and had to land on a mountain, my chance of surviving would probably be zero,» Rutan said.
Rutan said he missed the service for Robert Pond, the founder of the Palm Springs Air Museum.

Rutan made aviation history in 1986 when he and Jeana Yeager completed their round-the-world flight in nine days in the experimental airplane Voyager, which was designed by his brother Burt Rutan. The flight never stopped for refueling.
Before working as a test pilot, Rutan served in the U.S. Air Force and flew 325 combat missions in Vietnam. He was shot down by enemy fire during one of those missions, forcing him to eject from a burning F-100. He evaded capture and was later rescued.
Rutan later sought to break other aviation record by attempting to float around the world on a balloon without stopping. He missed that goal in January 1998 when a helium cell on the Global Hilton balloon ruptured, and Rutan and his co-pilot Dave Melton had to parachute out.
He had another near miss in May 2000 when a plane he was in landed on thin ice and sank on the North Pole. Rutan and several others abandoned the plane and were left stranded in the cold for more than a dozen hours before being rescued.

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