The passing of two aerospace legends

 

May 11, 2024



Credit Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

Sherm Mullin at the Skunk Works' Plant 10 facility in Palmdale, California, in 1993.

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Sherman Mullin, retired president of LMCO's Skunk Works and a valued member on our Board of Trustees, and Dick Rutan, an Aerospace Legend and Eagle of the Flight Test Historical Foundation.

Sherman "Sherm" Mullin had an illustrious 56-year career in aerospace, most notably as president of Lockheed's famous Skunk Works division. In 1990, he was the acting Vice President of Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Company and was chosen to replace retiring Ben Rich as president, a position he held until 1994.

Sherm's remarkable journey took him from a semester at Princeton University to becoming a guided missile electronics instructor in the U.S. Army, before joining Lockheed in 1959. There, he rose through the ranks based on his leadership abilities and technical accomplishments. Known as a brilliant engineer, he served as program manager for the pioneering F-117 stealth fighter in the 1980s, and later spearheaded Lockheed's winning proposal for the F-22 Advanced Tactical Fighter as head of the Lockheed-Boeing-General Dynamics team.

Known for his frank, no-nonsense approach, self-discipline and strong communication skills, Sherm was a mentor to many and an integral part of Lockheed's success with landmark aviation programs. After his retirement in 1994, he remained active as an aerospace consultant and advisor to the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board as well as a valued member on our Board of Trustees.

The Flight Test Historical Foundation was privileged to have Sherm's wisdom and experience on our Board. His passing is a tremendous loss, and our deepest condolences go out to his family and loved ones. Sherm's legacy in aviation history is assured, and he will be greatly missed.

Provided.

Dick Rutan.

We are saddened to share the passing of our dear friend and aerospace legend, Dick Rutan, on May 3, at the age of 85. Lt. Col. (Ret.) Richard Glenn Rutan was born July 1, 1938 in Loma Linda, California. He was an Air Force officer and Vietnam War fighter pilot who flew 325 missions in Vietnam. After Vietnam, he became a test pilot and later served as commander of the 355th Field Maintenance Squadron. Dick was awarded the Silver Star, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, 16 Air Medals and a Purple Heart.

Dick had an incredible life in aerospace and was known for his artful hand at flying. Dick was probably best known for the record-setting non-stop circumnavigation around-the-world without refueling flight in the Rutan-designed Voyager aircraft with co-pilot Jeana Yeager.

He had an incredible career flying many experimental aircraft as a test pilot including the Xcor EZ-Rocket, Fairchild T-46 and Voyager setting many world records. Dick received the Gold Medal from the Royal Aero Club, the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Ronald Regan and the Collier Trophy for his flight in the Voyager aircraft. Dick was also honored as an Eagle by the Historical Flight Test Foundation.

Dick passed in the early evening at the Kootenai Hospital in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho surrounded by Kris Rutan, his wife of 25 years, friends and family. On the day of his passing, Dick made a point to reach out to fellow well-known pilots to let them know he was pulling the chocks for his final journey. Dick was a husband, father, brother, grandfather and so much more.

We will miss our friend, Dick Rutan, who will always be respected for his aerospace knowledge, incredible talent in the sky and as a legend who always told it like it was. Blue skies our friend! We will miss our conversations.

 
 

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