Richard Rutan was born in Loma Linda, California, on July 1, 1938. At the age of 19, he joined the Air Force
Aviation Cadet Program and was later commissioned a lieutenant in the Air Force. He flew 325 missions over
Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War until September 1968, when his F-100 plane sustained a hit from
enemy fire and he had to eject from his aircraft. He worked for years designing and building his own experimental
airplane which he flew around the world non-stop without refueling.