THE RUTAN VOYAGER - THE FIRST NON-STOP AROUND THE WORLD FLIGHT
16 December 2013
Over the weekend on the 14th December was 27th anniversary since the two American pilots, Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager began the first ever non-stop flight around the world. Their aircraft was the Rutan Model 76 Voyager, which departed at 8:01 am local time from Edward’s Air Force Base, California.
The Voyager was designed and manufactured over a period of nearly 6 years by Burt Rutan, Dick’s brother. During the development stages, time was mainly spent ensuring the aircraft had high endurance levels to withstand the flight. Light materials such as fibreglass and carbon fibre were used for the airframe, making it weigh only 426 kg when empty, however when it departed it weighed over 3,000kg due to the large amounts of fuel needed for the long distance flight.
As the plane accelerated, due to the weight of the fuel loaded in the wings, the tips of the wings scraped against the runway causing slight damage. Apart from this incident at the start of the flight, the pilots didn't encounter any major problems during the flight until they were almost home and the computer had miscalculated how much fuel the aircraft had left. The aircraft was flying up the coast of Mexico when the back engine failed as fuel had stopped flowing to it. The more powerful front engine had already been shut down to save fuel and the aircraft fell for around 5 minutes.
Dick luckily got the front engine to start again, regaining control of the aircraft and The Voyager came into land at 8:06 am local time on the 23rd December; 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 minutes after taking off, and in doing so became the first to fly around the world without stopping or refueling.