The Rutan Voyager was the first aircraft to fly around the world non-stop without refueling. The idea for the plane was sketched out on a napkin one day over lunch by the Rutan brothers and built over the course of 5 years using private funds. The finished aircraft was marvel of space age technology that, when empty, weighed a scant 2250 lbs. If it was going to successfully circumnavigate the globe without refueling it would have to have an incredible lift to drag ratio and it did. The 29 foot long, 2-seater which was built of carbon fiber, kevlar and fiberglass and which sported incredible 110 foot wingspan achieved a L/D ratio of 27 (by comparison a 747 has a L/D ration of 17). Another important element in keeping fuel consumption down on the flight would be the weight of the crew. Having both Rutans in the cockpit would have made the plane too heavy so the Brothers enlisted the help of their colleague Jeana Yeager to handle co-piloting duties. She had been a test pilot for the Rutan brother's experimental aircraft and had established her piloting credentials by setting several speed records in those craft during the early 80s.

And so it was that on December 14, 1986 with Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager on board Voyager began its historic trip at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Filled to capacity with fuel for the flight the plane's weight ballooned to an elephantine 9700 lbs and it would need to use nearly 3 miles of runway in order to achieve takeoff. During that takeoff run the fuel-laden wingtips actually scraped along the tarmac and were permanently damaged, though it was determined that the damage didn't pose any obvious risk to the flight.

After 9 days of flight at an average speed of 116 mph Voyager and her exhausted crew touched down where they started at Edwards with the world's press in attendance to record the event. Their long journey from napkin to history book complete.

Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan emerge from Voyager after completing their historic flight.