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Fri, Dec 21, 2007

Dick Rutan Makes Forced Landing After Engine Failure

Puts C150 Down On Road Outside Victorville, CA

What was supposed to be a short hop from Mojave, CA to Palm Springs for world record-setting aviator Dick Rutan this week, instead turned into a dead-stick landing on a small road near Victorville.

Rutan told The Associated Press he was flying his Cessna 150M (similar to type shown below) to attend the memorial service for his friend Robert Pond Tuesday morning, when his plane suffered engine problems shortly after takeoff.

The C150 was about 1,000 feet above ground level when the engine quit, forcing Rutan to put it down on a road eight miles from the Victorville Airport.

"It was sudden, catastrophic, and inexplicable," Rutan told the AP. "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 have been zero."

Rutan said the aircraft's engine suffered catastrophic failure.

The emergency landing marks the fourth accident Rutan has experienced in an aircraft. His F-100 was shot down by enemy fire over Vietnam, forcing Rutan to eject. In January 1998, Rutan and co-pilot Dave Melton had to bail out of the Global Hilton balloon, when a helium cell ruptured during the non-stop round-the-world attempt.

Two years later, Rutan and several others had to make a quick escape from a plane that landed on thin ice, and sank on the North Pole. They then had to endure over 12 hours in the cold before being rescued.

Rutan is best known, though, for a flight that had a much better ending. In 1986, Rutan and fellow pilot Jeana Yeager made the first non-stop flight around the world in the long-legged -- and longer-winged -- Voyager aircraft, designed by brother Burt Rutan.

ANN is heartened to hear Rutan escaped this latest incident without serious injury.

IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 8545U        Make/Model: C150      Description: 150, A150, Commuter, Aerobat
  Date: 12/18/2007     Time: 1715

  Event Type: Incident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: None

LOCATION
  City: VICTORVILLE   State: CA   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT REPORTED ENGINE FAILURE AND FORCE LANDED ON A ROAD, 7 MILES FROM
  VICTORVILLE, CA

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   

WEATHER: 1719Z 18007KT 10 110SCT 10/06 A3014

OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: RIVERSIDE, CA  (WP21)                 Entry date: 12/19/2007

FMI: www.dickrutan.com/page3.html

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