The Sioux Falls Airshow Committee, sponsors of the Sioux Falls Airshow, has announced their second “Night With Heroes” event, to be held October 5th at the Belbas Theater in the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Night With Heroes events bring legendary aviators to the city as an inspirational touchstone, to inform the public about American history and to benefit local veteran-related causes and charities.
This year’s event features legendary aviation pioneer and combat pilot, Richard Glenn “Dick” Rutan. A life long aviator, Dick Routan served with the US Air Force in Vietnam, serving in the famous and dangerous “Misty” Forward Air Control (FAC), their mission to fly in low and fast over enemy territory in their North American F-100 Super Sabres, armed only with cannons and marking rockets, close enough to make positive visual identification of enemy targets and mark them for conventional Air Force and Navy aircraft strikes. “Mistys” flew the two-seat version of the Super Sabre, the F-100F, and although they flew fast, 350 to 550 MPH, and constantly “jinked”, or changed direction to spoil the enemy’s prediction of where to aim, 28% of the “Misty” pilots were shot down.
Routan’s performance under fire won him a Silver Star, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, sixteen Air Medals and a Purple Heart. After his military service, Dick continued serving his country, with an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 1992, and never stopped flying, gathering more awards along the way. He was awarded the International Airsports Federation Louis Bleriot Award in 1979 and 1981 for setting new flight distance records, 1986 brought the first nonstop, non-refueled flight around the world co-piloted by Jenna Yeager in the Rutan Voyager, that brought Dick two Collier Trophies, a De la Vaulx Medal and another Louis Bleriot award, the Edward Longstreth Medal from the Franklin Institute as well as a Presidential Citizens Medal, awarded by President Reagan. Most recently, in 2005 Routan earned yet another Louis Bleriot Award, this time for longest point-to-point rocket plane flight, accomplished at the controls of the XCOR EZ-Rocket. “Dick Rutan is truly an American Hero,” says airshow co-Chairman, Craig Hagen. “It’s really an awesome thrill to have someone who’s achieved so much share his story and hopefully inspire us, too.”
The beneficiary of this year’s Night With Heroes event is the Berakhah House of Sioux Falls which focuses on providing short-term housing for homeless and at-risk veterans and is affiliated with the Sioux Falls Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. Berakhah House director Chris Nelson states, “We’re very grateful to have Night With Heroes. We hope it can bring new awareness to what we do; I can’t think of a better representative than Dick Rutan.”
Tickets are available through the Washington Pavilion website. Rutan will also be autographing limited edition prints by aviation artist John Mollison of the Voyager aircraft and F-100 “Misty” fighter that he flew in Vietnam.