Flashback: They made it! Voyager crew comes home

 - December 1, 2022, 7:56 AM

With AIN Media Group's Aviation International News and its predecessor Aviation Convention News celebrating the company's 50th year of continuous publication this year, AIN’s editorial staff is going back through the archives each month to bring readers some interesting events that were covered over the past half-century.

REWIIND: (AIN January 1987 p.1) “Well I guess I’ll have to cancel my membership in the Flat Earth Society,” Dick Rutan radioed to the covey of chase planes boxing in the experimental aircraft Voyager as it approached Edwards Air Force Base, California, Tuesday morning, December 23.

Rutan could speak with some authority on the planet’s shape, for he and copilot Jeana Yeager were about to complete a 25,012-smi unrefueled circumnavigation of the earth—the first ever—earning a well-deserved place for themselves in aviation history.

FAST FORWARD: More than 50,000 spectators, volunteers, and members of the press witnessed the landing of the historic flight, which took 9 days, 3 minutes, and 14 seconds from its time of takeoff from the Edwards dry lake bed, the culmination of more than five years of planning and preparation. The twin-engine airplane (one pushing, one pulling) maintained an average groundspeed of 115.77 mph over the course of its epic journey, one in which it set a record that has yet to be eclipsed. Voyager today resides in the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. in the company of other record-breaking craft such as the Wright Brothers Flyer, Spirit of St. Louis, and Bell X-1.