(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

VOYAGER is a book about a classic apple-pie, flag-waving, David-versus-Goliath adventure. Pioneer flyers Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan enjoyed their moment of triumph on December 23, 1986, at Edwards Air Force Base, having completed a harrowing and ultrachallenging nine-day flight around the world. As followed by the entire world on television and in newspapers, the voyage was a test of technical know-how and human endurance. VOYAGER fully details the former--describing how Yeager and Rutan defeated every problem from spark plugs that corroded too quickly to the almost insurmountable “pitch porpoise” (vibrations of the wings at certain speeds).

Yet the book ignores almost totally the human element--the interactions of man and machine. Only a few pages are devoted to how the team felt postflight. Even the flight itself is given barely one-third of the book, and most of these pages are spent describing plane rather than personal conditions.

Unfortunately, the event itself was far more engrossing than what is recounted here. The book is poorly written, and it is often impossible to tell whether Yeager or Rutan is speaking. Their account is couched in cliches, and one keeps waiting for the moment when one becomes involved enough to jump out of the chair cheering for the good guys. One would do better to turn to Tom Wolfe’s THE RIGHT STUFF, with its superbly told story of exhilarating skycapades.