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Jeana Yeager (born May 18, 1952 in Fort Worth, Texas, USA) is an aviatrix. She is most famous for co-piloting a non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world in the Rutan Voyager aircraft from 14 to 23 December 1986. The flight took 9 days, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds and covered 24,986 miles (40,211 km), more than doubling the old distance record set by a Boeing B-52 bomber in 1962. In recognition of this achievement, she received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Reagan (1986), the Harmon Trophy, the FAI De la Vaulx Medal, and is the first woman to have received the Collier Trophy. She also received Edward Longstreth Medal from the Franklin Institute in 1988.
Jeana is not related to Charles "Chuck" Yeager, the famous test pilot.
Early life 
Yeager grew up in Commerce, Texas. Her early hobbies included horseback riding and track running, and she also developed an interest in helicopters. She studied drafting at Commerce High School, a skill that would prove valuable later in designing the first-round-the-world aircraft. Yeager graduated from Commerce High School in 1970. When Yeager was 19, she married a police officer, but the two were divorced after five years of marriage.
In 1977 she gave up on her failing marriage and settled in Santa Rosa, California, performing drafting and surveying for a company specialising in geothermal energy. At age 26, she earned her private pilot license, her ultimate ambition being to fly helicopters.
Yeager became involved in experimental aerospace design when she met Bob Truax at about the time she received her pilot license. Truax was a rocket scientist and was developing a fully reusable spacecraft at a company called Project Private Enterprise. Yeager was hired to perform drafting for Truax at his company. She also volunteered to be a test subject in sub-orbital flights, but none took place.
Association with the Rutans 
Yeager first met Dick Rutan and his brother Burt, at an air show in Chino, California in 1980. At the time, Burt and Dick ran their own aircraft company, Rutan Aircraft Factory (now Scaled Composites). Dick Rutan had flown combat missions in Vietnam, was 14 years older than Yeager, and was a featured aerobatic flyer at the show. At that time he was chief test pilot for Burt Rutan's aircraft company, based in California's Mojave desert. Yeager and Dick Rutan became romantically involved, and Yeager joined him to work as a pilot for Burt Rutan's company, flying Rutan aircraft. Yeager set four separate speed records in Rutan EZ planes in the early 1980s.
It was Yeager who named the globe-circling project and the planned airplane "Voyager". She drafted the engineering drawings and ran the operation that kept the project financially viable. At the outset of the project, Yeager and the Voyager team managed almost entirely on donations from private individuals. Yeager underwent extensive training in ocean navigation and communications before the trip, and acted as the copilot and navigator. She also went on an Air Force water-survival training course and was one of the first civilians to successfully do so. She also qualified for a commercial pilot license, and multi-engine and instrument ratings.
After the "Round the World" flight 
Following the flight of Voyager, Yeager and Rutan traveled around the world on a lecture tour of the project, which helped them cover the costs connected with their pioneering flight, estimated to be $250,000.
Yeager and Rutan's relationship fell apart after their historic flight. Yeager married Bill Williams, whose company marketed Microlon, an engine oil treatment. Yeager endorsed the oil additive in an advertisement which claimed that Voyager lost all oil in the rear engine over the coast of Africa but was "still purring" two hours later." Dick Rutan sued Yeager, claiming misappropriation of Voyager funds but dropped the lawsuit when he discovered that she was declaring bankruptcy and earning only $400 a month as a ranch hand.
- Onkst, David H. "Dick Rutan, Jeana Yeager, and the Flight of the Voyager". U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission.
- "Franklin Laureate Database - Edward Longstreth Medal 1988 Laureates". Franklin Institute. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
- Marriages and Rutan Lawsuit http://www.ustaxcourt.gov/InOpHistoric/rinehart8.TCM.WPD.pdf