Palm Desert, Calif. - - One of the most highly-awarded aviators is in the Coachella Valley.
Burt Rutan spoke Thursday with the Old Bold Pilots Club at the Desert Willow Golf Course in Palm Desert.
Rutan, in partnership with Paul Allen, built SpaceShipOne, the first non-government spacecraft in 2004.
The shuttle won them the honored Ansari X Prize, $10 million dollars, for development for the good of humanity.
His speech was just a preview for what he'll talk about at the Palm Springs Air Museum Gala.
It's a museum which Rutan says holds a precious piece of history.
"You can go there and see all the things that made it possible for you to enjoy freedom in America," Rutan said passionately, "From that standpoint, that's the most important museum you can think about."
He says the Palm Springs Air Museum is especially valuable to people who aren't familiar with aviation.
"In fact," he begins,"it's more interesting because they're looking at historical things. This museum, for example, has some artifacts that saved this country and our freedom in World War II."
Rutan continues, "If you don't know anything about airplanes, to go and look at the hardware that kept us free, is something everyone should do."
Money from the Palm Springs Air Museum Gala on Friday, February 8th, goes to preserving those historic airplanes at the museum.
Some of the airplanes on display include: North American B25, Grumman F4F Wildcat, Boeing B17 Flying Fortress, and Douglas F4 Phantom.
To attend the gala, or to plan your trip to the museum, visit PalmSpringsAirMuseum.org.