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Voyager Takes Lofty Spot in Flight Museum

November 21, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Carefully, very carefully, technicians brought the famed aircraft Voyager into the National Air and Space Museum on Friday and raised it to the ceiling, squeezing its 110-foot wingspan into a 105-foot space.

The Voyager, formerly based in Mojave, Calif., is the first aircraft to fly around the world without landing or refueling, and it is being exhibited in the country's most popular museum just in time for the first anniversary of that nine-day feat of Dec. 14-23.

Pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager weren't there to see the Voyager hoisted to the museum's ceiling, but they will take part in anniversary ceremonies.

Voyager's wings, about as long as those of a Boeing 727 jetliner, were attached to the craft after its fuselage was wheeled in through the huge west doors of the museum.

The plane was raised to the ceiling without its winglets--small vertical fins at the tip of the wings--in order to fit into the 105-foot width of the gallery.

That was appropriate, somehow, since Voyager made its 25,012-mile trip without the winglets. The one on the right wing blew away on takeoff from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and Rutan and Yeager maneuvered to cause the damaged left one to tear away.

Even without the winglets, the span is too wide for the museum space and the plane is slanted, as if banked in a turn.

The exhibit is the first one visitors will see when they enter the museum.

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