On Dec. 23, 1986, the experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first nonstop, around the world flight without refueling. It landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
The idea for the Voyager came about as Mr. Rutan, his brother Burt and Ms. Yeager ate lunch together one day in 1981; the three sketched the design for the plane on a napkin. The Rutans, Ms. Yeager and a team made mostly of volunteers built the Voyager over the next five years. The enterprise was funded entirely by private investors.
The Voyager, made of a lightweight composite material containing primarily graphite, Kevlar and fiberglass, weighed just 939 pounds but could carry more than 7,000 pounds of fuel in its 17 fuel tanks.
The Voyager took off from Edwards Air Force Base on Dec. 14, 1986. Mr. Rutan and Ms. Yeager flew the plane in short shifts over the next 9 days 3 minutes and 44 seconds, covering about 25,000 miles. The pilots, as reported by The New York Times, rested in “a 7 1/2-by-2-foot compartment beside the even smaller cockpit … equipped with food, water, a five-foot rubber band for exercising, and rudimentary toilet facilities. The aviators’ diet consisted of bland food supplements like powdered milk shakes