Jeana Yeager

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Jeana Yeager
Yeager in 1986 in front of Voyager
Born (1952-05-18) May 18, 1952 (age 71)
Spouse(s)Jon A. Farrar (1971–1976)
William Z. Williams (1992–1994)
Dale A. Rinehart (1994–1996)[2]
AwardsPresidential Citizens Medal
Harmon Trophy
FAI De la Vaulx Medal
Collier Trophy
Edward Longstreth Medal
Aviation career
Famous flightsThe first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world with Dick Rutan
Flight license1978

Jeana Lee Yeager (born May 18, 1952) is an American aviator. She co-piloted, along with Dick Rutan, the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world in the Rutan Voyager aircraft from December 14 to 23, 1986.[3] The flight took 9 days, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds and covered 24,986 miles (40,211 km), almost doubling the old distance record set by a Boeing B-52 strategic bomber in 1962.

Early life and career[edit]

Jeana Lee Yeager was born on May 18, 1952, in Fort Worth, Texas, to Royal Leland "Lee" Yeager (March 12, 1918 - March 17, 2001) and Alice Evaree Snider (née Harris; October 21, 1924 – February 5, 2013). As a child, she and her family variously lived in Garland, Texas, Oxnard, California, and Commerce, Texas.[4] Following graduation from high school, Yeager, at age 19, married a police officer; they divorced five years later.[1] She then worked as a draftsman and surveyor for a geothermal energy company in Santa Rosa, California. In 1978, Yeager obtained her private pilot's license while still living in Santa Rosa.[5]

Yeager worked for Robert Truax while he was developing a reusable spacecraft. She met Dick Rutan in 1980 and they soon both set distance records in the Rutan VariEze and Long-EZ planes, designed by Dick's brother Burt Rutan. In early 1982, Yeager set a new women's speed record for the 2,000-kilometer closed course and in the fall of 1984 using the VariEze, she set the open-distance record of 2,427.1 statute miles.[5][6]

Despite having the same last name, Jeana Yeager is not related to fellow aviator and test pilot General Chuck Yeager.[7]

Round-the-world flight[edit]

The Rutan Voyager

Yeager and Dick Rutan decided to attempt to fly around the world without refueling. They formed Voyager Aircraft, Inc., and Burt Rutan began designing the aircraft. Initially unable to find a commercial sponsor, Yeager started the Voyager Impressive People (VIP) program which became the major source of money to build, test, and fly the aircraft. By mid-1986, Voyager was ready for the flight. Yeager flew as co-pilot on the 216-hour flight and set a world absolute distance record. This was the first time a woman had been listed in an absolute category.[citation needed]

Dick Rutan and Voyager sued Yeager in 1995, alleging that she had misappropriated memorabilia and funds from Voyager. The lawsuit was dropped in 1996.[2]


In recognition of the 1986 Voyager flight, Yeager received both the Harmon and National Air and Space Museum (NASM) trophies, the FAI De la Vaulx Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Ronald Reagan and the Collier Trophy (becoming its first female recipient). She shared the Presidential Citizens Medal and Collier Trophy with Dick and Burt Rutan (as well as the NASM Trophy and De la Vaulx Medal with Dick). She was also awarded the Edward Longstreth Medal from the Franklin Institute in 1988.[8] In 2013, Flying magazine ranked Yeager and Dick Rutan No. 33 on their list of the 51 Heroes of Aviation.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Jeana Yeager: All you should know about the first woman to fly around the World Non-stop : Worldly Science". India Today. October 23, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "T.C. Memo. 2003-109" (PDF). United States Tax Court. April 18, 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 27, 2009. Retrieved Oct 23, 2015.
  3. ^ Onkst, David H. "Dick Rutan, Jeana Yeager, and the Flight of the Voyager". U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. Archived from the original on 2012-10-02.
  4. ^ "Jeana Yeager Was Not Just Along for the Ride". Los Angeles Times. December 24, 1986. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Gathering of Eagles Foundation : Yeager, Jeana L." Gathering of Eagles Foundation. Archived from the original on September 9, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  6. ^ "Records - World Air Sports Federation". Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  7. ^ "Women in Aviation and Space History - Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum". Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  8. ^ "Jeanna Yeager". Franklin Institute. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  9. ^ "51 Heroes of Aviation". Flying Magazine. Retrieved 2018-08-27.

Further reading[edit]

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