Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Celebrating Voyager's Voyage 25 Years Later

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Rutan Voyager's remarkable round-the-world flight piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager. This past Saturday, a big celebration of the event was held at the Mojave Air & Space Port as part of the Mojave Transportation Museum's series of open houses dubbed "Plane Crazy Saturday".

During the open house, Burt Rutan gave a 2-hour talk on the building of the Voyager, and that evening, Burt and Dick, together with Mike Melvill, talked for another 2 1/2 hours, telling stories of the remarkable flight. (The museum is hoping to eventually make available a DVD of the evening.) My favorite line, though, was Doug Shane's rendition of Dick's takeoff call: "Eddy Tower, Voyager 1 requests Edwards to Edwards the hard way."

To keep the celebration going, I went looking for a previously unpublished photo of Voyager, and MTM Director Cathy Hansen lent me this one that she took on December 23, 1986, as Voyager circled over Edwards with a photo chase Cessna just before landing. Cathy was one of 55,000 people on hand at Edwards for the historic landing.

It took five years to build the Voyager, since it was done mostly by volunteer labor. The non-stop, unrefueled flight took nine days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds, and covered a distance of 26,366 statute miles.

(Ok, technically this isn't a "vintage" photo, since purists define that as an image that's at least 30 years old, but it's my blog and I'm bending the rules...)

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