How does one measure the success of an airplane designer?
No offense intended to its participants, but aviation progress by the 1980s had become rather mundane by comparison with the incessant leaps and bounds of previous decades. Maybe it was a matter of butting up against the realities of aviation’s maturity, or maybe it was simply a product of the funk enveloping the west at the start of the 1980s.
“LAST BIG PLUM” REVISITED–Burt Rutan and the Voyager team in 1986 described their quest to fly around the world nonstop and unrefueled as “the last big plum” in the orchard of aviation records. In 1999 Messrs. Piccard and Jones, similarly, characterized their ultimately successful circumnavigation of the world in the Breitling Orbiter balloon as “the last great aeronautical adventure.”