Thursday, December 22, 2016

30th anniversary of Rutan Voyager nonstop world flight

On Saturday, December 17th, the team who participated in building, testing, and flying the Rutan Voyager gathered to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its flight at the Mojave Air & Spaceport in Mojave, California.

The Rutan Voyager designed by legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan, became the first aircraft to fly nonstop around the world without refueling or stopping, on December 14, 1986.

The Voyager piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager completed the nonstop flight in about 216 hours or 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds, touching down on December 23, setting a flight endurance record.

It took a runway nearly three miles long, for the Voyager to take off from Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert.

Despite downward force pressing their wingtips onto the runway, Voyager’s pilots, Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, guided the plane into the air at 100 kn.

The aircraft flew westerly 40,212 km at an average altitude of 11,000 feet (3,350 m) with an average speed of 116 miles per hour (187 km/h).

The twin boom composite airframe, largely made of fiberglass, carbon fiber and Kevlar, weighed 939 pounds (426 kg) when empty.

The unladen weight of the plane was 2250 lb (1020.6 kg) and fully loaded weight before the historic flight was 9,694.5 pounds (4,397 kg).

The high lift wing with a span of 110 ft 8 in (33.80 m) provided an estimated lift to drag ratio (L/D) of 27.

Voyager had an push-pull engine configuration. It was powered by an air-cooled Teledyne Continental O-240 engine in the front and a liquid-cooled Teledyne Continental IOL-200 in the aft.

The rear engine was intended to be operated throughout the flight, while the front engine was intended to provide additional power for take off or in an emergency situation.

There was only 106 pounds (48 kg) of fuel remaining in the fuel tanks on return.

The aircraft is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.