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Marchand, Jack A. | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

Name: Marchand, Jack A.


Historical Note: History of the Voyager Project, The Model 76 Voyager was the first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping or refueling. It was piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager. The flight took off from Edwards Air Force Base's 15,000 foot runway in the Mojave Desert on December 14, 1986, and ended successfully 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds later, on December 23. The aircraft flew westerly 26,366 statute miles at an average altitude of 11,000 feet. This definitively broke a previous record set by a United States Air Force crew piloting a Boeing B-52 that flew 12,532 miles in 1962. Voyager's takeoff took place at 8:01 AM local time. As the plane accelerated, the tips of the wings, which were heavily loaded with fuel, were damaged as they scraped against the runway, ultimately causing pieces to break off at both ends. The aircraft accelerated very slowly and needed approximately 14,200 feet of the runway to gain enough speed to lift from the ground, the wings arching up dramatically just before take-off. During the flight, the two pilots had to deal with extremely cramped quarters. To reduce stress, the two intended to fly the plane in three-hour shifts, but this did not prove to be very successful and they became extremely fatigued. The plane also continuously reminded the pilots of its pitch instability and fragility. They had to maneuver around bad weather numerous times, most perilously around the 600 mile wide Typhoon Marge.[2] Libya denied access to the country's airspace, forcing precious fuel to be used. As they neared California to land, a fuel pump failed and had to be replaced with its twin pumping fuel from the other side of the aircraft. The plane safely came back to earth, touching down at 8:06 AM at the same airfield 9 days after take-off. The average speed for the flight was 116 miles per hour. The aircraft was first imagined by Jeana Yeager, Dick Rutan, and his brother Burt as they were at lunch in 1981. The initial idea was first sketched out on the back of a napkin. Voyager was built in Mojave, California, over a period of 5 years. The Voyager was built mainly by a group of volunteers working under both the Rutan Aircraft Factory and an organization set up under the name Voyager Aircraft. The airframe, largely made of fiberglass, carbon fiber, and Kevlar, weighed 939 pounds when empty. With the engines included, the unladen weight of the plane was 2250 lb. However, when it was fully loaded before the historic flight, it weighed 9,694.5 pounds due to the large amount of fuel required for the long-distance flight.[3] The aircraft had an estimated lift to drag ratio (L/D) of 27.[4] Voyager had front and rear propellers, powered by separate engines. The rear engine, a water-cooled Teledyne Continental IOL-200, was planned to be operated throughout the flight. The front engine, an air-cooled Teledyne Continental O-240, was operated to provide additional power for takeoff and the initial part of the flight at heavy weights. Voyager is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Sources:

1. "Official FAI database". http://records.fai.org/general_aviation/aircraft.asp?id=2696. Retrieved 2007-09-05.

2. Joint Typhoon Warning Center (1987). Chapter 3: Northwest Pacific and North Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclones. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.

3. Rutan Voyager - Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

4. David Noland, "Steve Fossett and Burt Rutan's Ultimate Solo: Behind the Scenes," Popular Mechanics, Feb. 2005 (web version) David H. Onkst. Dick Rutan, Jeana Yeager, and the Flight of the Voyager. U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. Time Magazine - Flight of Fancy By Richard Stengel; Scott Brown/Mojave Monday, Dec. 29, 1986. Retrieved April 8, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutan_Voyager






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