Aviation: Coming Home

Coming Home

Wearing a black cowboy hat, blue pants and a blue sweatshirt, Pilot Dick Rutan signaled a jaunty thumbs-up last week as he emerged from the phone booth-size cockpit of his spindly aircraft Voyager. For Rutan, 48, and his copilot Jeana Yeager, 34, the landing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., marked the completion of an extraordinary mission: a 25,012-mile global trip in 9 days, 3 min. and 44 sec., the first time that a plane had circled the earth nonstop without refueling.

At a press conference some three hours after touchdown, Rutan, a former Air Force lieutenant colonel, said he felt...

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