By Mary Lou Hazal
Aviation pioneer Jeana Yeager has donated the memorabilia from her record-setting Voyager flight to Texas A&M; University-Commerce.
A Sherman area resident and 1970 graduate of Commerce High School, Yeager was honored at a luncheon where A&M-Commerce; President Keith McFarland announced the gift.
“We want to honor Jeana Yeager for her outstanding achievements with the Jeana Yeager Aviation Collection at James Gee Library,” McFarland said.
Director Greg Mitchell said that Gee Library is fortunate to receive the Yeager Collection.
“Thanks to the generosity of Jeana Yeager, Gee Library has acquired a collection truly of national note,” Mitchell said.
In December 1986, Voyager broke world records as it flew almost 25,000 miles around the world in nine days without refueling.
Yeager is the only woman to be awarded the prestigious Collier Trophy for advancement of aviation. In winning this award, she joined aviation “greats” Glenn Curtiss, Howard Hughes, Chuck Yeager, the Gemini astronauts, the Apollo 11 crew of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins.
Processing of the many items donated has started at the library. In hearing about the plans A&M-Commerce; has for the collection, Yeager thanked Dr. James Conrad, head of Special Collections and university archivist, for “all done with the collection so far.”
Yeager was also pleased to see former Commerce High School classmates Deborah Wheat, Luann Bourland and Ann Pine, who attended the luncheon.
“Thank you Jim for bringing me back together with friends and to Commerce,” she told Conrad.
After the two rooms full of items are processed by library staff, the collection, including Yeager’s Collier Trophy and her other awards, will be made available for viewing by school groups and shared with researchers and the public.
The collection also will consist of photos, plaques, flight suits, helmets, personal papers, letters, VHS tapes, slides, files, maps, and the molds used to build the Voyager aircraft.
Looking at the many items is a “voyage of discovery for our staff,” Conrad said. “When we first saw the collection, we realized we had a wonderful resource for the library and researchers,” Conrad said.
The library will work with A&M-Commerce; faculty to use the collection in classes and a traveling exhibit is also planned, he said.
In December 2005, Yeager was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from A&M-Commerce; and gave the keynote address at the ceremonies. She lives on a horse ranch east of Sherman.