Jeana Yeager

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Jeana Yeager
Ray kamm collection image (36749883072).jpg
Yeager in 1986 in front of Voyager
Born (1952-05-18) May 18, 1952 (age 66)
Fort Worth, Texas[1]
Spouse Jon A. Farrar (1971–1976)
William Z. Williams (1992–1994)
Dale A. Rinehart (1994–1996)[2]
Aviation career
Famous flights The first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world with Dick Rutan
Flight license 1978
Awards Presidential Citizens Medal
Harmon Trophy
FAI De la Vaulx Medal
Collier Trophy
Edward Longstreth Medal

Jeana Lee Yeager 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), more than doubling the old distance record set by a Boeing B-52 bomber in 1962.

Early life and career[edit]

Jeana Lee Yeager was born on May 18, 1952, in Fort Worth, Texas, moving with her family to Garland, Texas; Oxnard, California; and Commerce, Texas. She is not related to aviator Chuck Yeager.[4] Following graduation from high school, Yeager, at age 19, married a police officer. But, the couple divorced after five years of marriage.[1] She worked as a draftsman and surveyor for a geothermal energy company in Santa Rosa, California. In 1978, she obtained her private pilot's license while still living in Santa Rosa.[5]

Jeana went to work for Robert Truax who 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, Jeana 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]

Round-the-world flight[edit]

Jeana 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, Jeana 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. She flew as copilot on the 216-hour flight and set a world's absolute distance record. This was the first time a woman had been listed in an absolute category.


In recognition of the Voyager flight, she received the Harmon Trophy, the FAI De la Vaulx Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Ronald Reagan (1986) and is the first woman to have received the Collier Trophy--receiving the latter two honors along with Dick and Burt Rutan. She was also awarded the Edward Longstreth Medal from the Franklin Institute in 1988.[7] In 2013, Flying magazine ranked her (with Dick Rutan) No. 33 on their list of the 51 Heroes of Aviation.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Jeana Yeager: All you should know about the first woman to fly around the World Non-stop : Worldly Science". INDIATODAY.IN. October 23, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  2. ^ "T.C. Memo. 2003-109" (PDF). United States Tax Court. April 18, 2003. 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. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  6. ^ "Records - World Air Sports Federation". Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  7. ^ "Jeanna Yeager". Franklin Institute. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  8. ^ "51 Heroes of Aviation". Flying Magazine. Retrieved 2018-08-27.

Further reading[edit]

  • Yeager, Jeana; Patton, Phil; Dick, Rutan (February 1989). Voyager. HarperCollins. p. 416. ISBN 0060971975.
  • Baldwin, Louis (1996). Women of strength : biographies of 106 who have excelled in traditionally male fields, A.D. 61 to the present. Jefferson, NC [u.a.]: McFarland. p. 254. ISBN 0786402504.