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Al Coblentz's Merkur Rutan Voyager

Al writes: "Hi Doc, I built this model from the Merkur Kitty Hawk set about 10 years ago. I think I bought that set from you when it first came out. I think I used a few M8 parts too. It is the Voyager which Dick Rutan and Jenna Yeager, flew around the world non-stop in 1986 without refueling, the only time this had ever been done at the time. I don’t know if it has been done since. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest achievements in aviation history. Total flight time was 9 days, 4 minutes. The total distance was about 25,000 miles at 116 mph. This is my next to favorite all time flying machine (second only to the Close Encounters mother ship!). I built this model kind of on the fly (pun sort of intended) without much planning and I’ve never been completely happy with it (thus, never sent you any photos), especially the look of the cabin/cockpit but I probably won’t make any changes since I haven’t in all this time so here it is for posterity.

The wingspan of the airplane was 110 feet and it weighed only 2,250 pounds un-fueled, over half of this being the engines. There were two engines, one forward, one aft. The only time the forward engine was used was on takeoff and during some critical maneuvers, otherwise the prop was feathered. The rear engine ran the entire trip and was fed by 17 fuel tanks, 16 stored in the wings and one in the center area, all of which the pilots constantly had to monitor and shift fuel among to keep the plane balanced. The entire airframe was constructed with composite material, no metal, and 72% of its weight at take off was the fuel. Only about 1.5% of the fuel remained when the flight was completed. The plane is now in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

My model is roughly 1/30 scale, thus the wingspan is about 3 ½ feet. I wanted it to be big enough to convey the size of the real thing but this was about as big as I could go and stay practical. One very realistic thing that happened by surprise is when I pick it up by the cockpit the wings sag just like they did when the plane was fully fueled. The model is just too big to get a decent close up shot, but here are some pictures anyway.

Also, here is a link about the plane and the flight although I am sure you are already familiar:"