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Test Pilots  
Richard A. Searfoss
Director of Flight Test Operations and Chief Test Pilot, NASA Astronaut (Former) and Colonel, USAF (Ret.)
 

Colonel Rick Searfoss has piloted XCOR rocket powered vehicles a total of 49 times. He flew the first generation aircraft, the EZ-Rocket nine times, and went on to fly the X-Racer, XCOR’s second generation rocket plane, 40 times including the plane’s first public appearance at EAA AirVenture 2008 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He was also at the controls during the record-setting seven flights in one day on October 1, 2008.

Col. Searfoss was the number one graduate in his class at the United States Air Force Academy, earning top overall, academic, engineering, and aeronautical engineering honors. He received an advanced degree from the California Institute of Technology as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow.  He is also a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons (Topgun) School and U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, with over 5,900 hours flying time in 71 different types of aircraft.

As an astronaut he piloted two Space Shuttle missions and commanded a third, the STS-90 Neurolab mission on Columbia, for a total of 39 days in space.  This mission was the last and most complex of NASA’s Spacelab missions, focusing on the effects of microgravity on the brain and nervous system.  Colonel Searfoss is a recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal and the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross.

In addition to his work with XCOR, Rick, the “Astronaut Speaker,” is a noted professional speaker, with real-world expertise and high-content programs on leadership, teamwork, innovation, and operational execution excellence.  As the only astronaut who has earned the coveted National Speakers Association Certified Speaking Professional designation, he shares with riveting stories and examples the lessons from command in space for corporate audiences worldwide.  See his speaker website at www.astronautspeaker.com .
In his spare time Rick enjoys backpacking, running, science fiction, and model aircraft.

Rick Searfoss

Lt. Colonel Dick Rutan, USAF (Ret.)
Founding Test Pilot
 

XCOR is proud to have Lt. Colonel Dick Rutan, USAF, ret., as our pioneer test pilot. He is a world-renowned aviator, remarkable adventurer, Vietnam War hero and accomplished lecturer.

Dick flew the first generation rocket-powered aircraft,  EZ-Rocket, 17 times, most notably on its first flights, in front of live network television cameras, in front of the crowds at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, in other public demonstrations in Mojave. He also piloted the EZ-Rocket on its record-breaking long distance flight from Mojave to California City.

Dick is perhaps most famous for flying the Voyager aircraft around the world non-stop and unrefueled with Jeana Yeager in 1986 in a plane designed by his brother, Burt Rutan. Dick Rutan and Yeager broke the existing flight distance record of 12,532 miles (20,168 kilometers) in nine days, three minutes, and forty-four seconds.  They took off and landed at Edwards Air Force Base, which is 13 miles down the road from Mojave.  Dick calls the Voyager story "one of tremendous courage, of vision, and of adventure;" it is often referred to as "aviation's last first." Four days following this world record-breaking flight, he was awarded the Presidential Citizen's Medal of Honor by President Ronald Reagan at a special White House ceremony. The Voyager is now ceremoniously suspended in the National Air and Space Museum's "Milestones of Flight" gallery in Washington, DC.

On his 16th birthday Dick received both his solo pilot license and his driver license ­giving him free reign to explore the air and roadways.

At 19 Dick joined the Air Force Aviation Cadet Program where he was given the commission of Lieutenant. During the Vietnam War he served as a Tactical Air Command pilot, flying 325 combat missions over Vietnam with 105 of them as a member of the high-risk classified operation known as the MISTY's. During his last reconnaissance flight over North Vietnam in September 1968 Dick’s plane was hit by enemy ground fire, and he had to eject. Luckily, he evaded capture and was rescued by the Air Force's "Jolly Green Giant" helicopter team. By the time he retired from the Air Force in 1978, Lt. Col. Rutan had been given the Silver Star, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, 16 Air Medals and the Purple Heart.

Dick Rutan

Dick Rutan and Richard Searfoss

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