Printer Friendly

LANCASTER PILOT'S POLAR ADVENTURE.

Byline: Charles F. Bostwick Staff Writer

MOJAVE - Dick Rutan wants to return to the North Pole.

Just back from an Arctic trip whose climax was 13 hours stranded on the polar icecap, Rutan is trying to arrange for a documentary filmmaker to finance a trip back to the airplane Rutan's group left stuck in the ice.

``I wanted to stay longer,'' Rutan said Tuesday, a day after his return to the Antelope Valley, in an interview at his Mojave office. ``It's so beautiful. I could have spent a month up there. It's just magnificent desolation.''

Rutan, who became famous in 1986 as one of the two-person crew who made the first flight around the world without stopping or refueling, videotaped from inside the airplane its landing and the passengers' scramble to get out when the plane broke through the ice. He's negotiating to sell the tape for a television series.

Rutan, a Lancaster resident, was one of seven people who left Point Barrow, Alaska, May 11 in two planes for a 20-hour flight over the North Pole to Norway.

After setting down at the North Pole briefly on their way over, the travelers spent three days in Spitsbergen, Norway, then started the return trip.

Approaching the North Pole, they set down the planes - a single-engine Cessna 150 and a larger Russian-made Antonov An-2 biplane - on a smooth section of polar ice.

``We were starting the process of shutting down when they realized the ice was thin,'' said Rutan, who co-piloted the Antonov. ``The Antonov starting bowing the ice.''

The pilots increased power to try to take off, but the main landing gear broke through the ice and the plane sank up to its belly, bending its propeller blades.

``We all scrambled out real quick,'' Rutan said.

Getting wet in 14-degree weather, Rutan noted, would have meant death.

Once they were out of the plane, the travelers realized they needed the survival gear inside the plane. They unloaded the plane and dragged their gear to a thicker spot on the ice, where they built an ice shelter.

They didn't have the skill to build a real igloo, but they built a shelter large enough to fit all of them.

Two of the travelers left in the Cessna to get help.

``Then it got really quiet,'' Rutan said.

Among the travelers' worries were polar bears. From the air, they had sighted several, and one ate a college student just outside Spitsbergen right before they arrived there, Rutan said.

They kept a shotgun handy, but no polar bear showed up.

The other travelers slept while waiting for rescue, but Rutan didn't.

``I was so full of adrenalin, I couldn't sleep,'' Rutan said. ``I didn't want to miss any of this.''

After 13 hours, a Canadian flying service's Twin Otter airplane on skis set down on the ice.

The plane flew them to Eureka, a tiny outpost in the Canadian Arctic, then they took another plane to Resolute. Getting back to Anchorage took about three days, Rutan said.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo: Lancaster pilot Dick Rutan shows off the parka that kept him warm in 14-degree Arctic weather while awaiting rescue after the plane he was co-piloting sankd through this ice.

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
COPYRIGHT 2000 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 24, 2000
Words:541
Previous Article:SCHOOL HOPES RIDING ON BOND DISTRICT FUND DONATION BASED ON OUTCOME.
Next Article:MAN PLEADS GUILTY IN STABBING PALMDALE RESIDENT COULD FACE SEVEN YEARS.


Related Articles
BRIEFLY FIRE GUTS VACANT SINGLE-STORY HOME.
SKY'S LIMIT FOR HOT-AIR BALLOON PILOT.
TRAVEL TALES : A CHILL IN THE AIR AT SEA WORLD.
POLICE INVESTIGATE SLAYINGS\2 Lancaster teens shot; deputies look into gang connection.
HIGH-FLYING FUN TODAY LANCASTER AVIATION FAIRE DESIGNED TO SPARK DREAMS.
SOARING EXHIBIT IN LANCASTER MUSEUM/GALLERY CHOCK FULL OF DISPLAYS, ACTIVITIES MARKING AVIATION ANNIVERSARY.
The Canopus Revelation.
EXPLORING A COMPLETELY NEW TASTE FOR ADVENTURE.
The Last Explorer.
The Last Explorer.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters