Soarin’ Over California
On February 7, 2001 Disney officially dedicated Soarin’ Over California with a ceremony emceed by Paul Pressler. Also on hand where Jeana Yeager and Richard Rutan who piloted the Voyager aircraft non-stop around the world.
Following is a transcript of the ceremony. The ceremony began with a biplane doing aerobatics overhead and three actors dressed as aviators and mechanics coming out to watch.
Aviator: Yeah, there she goes!
Female Mechanic: Isn’t that something, a Jenny!
Aviator:: Just like the first plane Charles Lindbergh bought.
Male Mechanic: Every time I see one of those old birds fly it’s like a window to another time. You know, when I helped a pilot into the cockpit he just sat there for a minute. I thought he was having second thoughts about flying there. When he finally spoke he said he searched a long time for a plane like that.
Female Mechanic: Isn’t it something how the thought of soaring through the clouds in one of those vintage planes can transform a grown man into a dreamer.
Aviator: A grown man, a grown woman or a child. If it weren’t for the dreams of pilots like Amelia Earhart, James Herman Banning, Charles Lindbergh or T. Claude Ryan we might not have found our wings and discovered that the sky is no longer the limit, but home.
Female Mechanic: You know, I think I hear him circling back around. Come on guys, let’s go watch him land.
Male Mechanic: Woo Hoo!
Aviator: To us, it’s a bit of history but back then a sight like that Jenny was just another day at the airfield. You know, they all eventually came here to California where wide open spaces and good thermal winds provided near perfect conditions for flying. It was once said that man’s mind and spirit grew within the space in which they are allowed to operate. Well the California skies provided that space. Flying fostered fantasies of childhood and stirred our capacity to dream and those dreams took us higher, faster and further than anyone ever though possible. You know, Amelia Earhart once said, ‘You haven’t seen a tree until you see its shadow from the sky.’ And she was right. I hope you all get to view your world from that same perspective.
Announcer: Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the chairman of the Walt Disney Resorts, Mr. Paul Pressler.
Pressler: Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Disney’s California Adventure. What started as an idea back in August of 1995 is today realized as a place to discover the beauty, whimsy and excitement of the ultimate California experience. Sunshine, surf, the silver screen, Napa valley vineyards, and the redwood lined trails; a slight irreverent pop culture and a celebration of individuality and diversity are all waiting to be discovered here at Disney’s California Adventure. Today we welcome you to Disney’s newest and most unique theme park yet and we invite you to explore the adventures from within.
One of our newest and most exciting adventures is here in Condor Flats. This high desert airfield pays tribute to the daredevils and dreamers who lead us from the barnstorming age to the space age. It is home to the preeminent flight adventure Soarin Over California. From early existence man has looked to the sky with dreams of one day experiencing the thrill of flight. It was in California that many of those dreams were first realized. Soarin’ Over California celebrates the dreams and the spirit of aviation with exhilarating airborne adventure over the spectacular sights of the Golden State.
Pressler: I would now like to introduce two aviators who continue to test the limits of aeronautics with modern daydreams of breaking one of aviation’s last records. These two collaborated to build and then fly a very unique aircraft that carried them non-stop around the world in 9 days, 3 minutes, 44 seconds. The aircraft was the Voyager, which took over from Edwards Air Force Base right here in California. Please welcome two modern day aeronautic adventurers, Richard Rutan and Jeana Yeager.
Jeana Yeager and Richard Rutan
Yeager: Thank you, Mr. Pressler. It is more than a pleasure to be here today and to be a part of this California Adventure. The one thing that Voyager did for me was validate that anything is possible, even the impossible. The seeds of tomorrow are more than just random thoughts, they are what we build tomorrow with. Our dream was to circumnavigate the world non-stop, non-refueled. We took an idea and formulated on paper, from paper we rolled up our sleeves and built the vehicle of our dreams, that was the Voyager. We spent years testing the aircraft, testing ourselves and on December 14th through 23rd we did go around the world non-stop, non-refueled in 9 days, 3 minutes, 44 seconds. We landed back at Edwards Air Force Base and achieved our goal and what many considered the impossible. Dreams can be true.
Rutan: My first day spent soaring over California seems like yesterday. I was 6 years old and the days of barnstorming were upon us. I begged and begged my mom take me and one day, armed with a fistful of one-dollar bills, we found our plane. I still remember the smell of that old plane and its sun eaten seats. I pleaded with my mom to let me stand during the flight so I could see out of the windows. It took just moments of seeing the earth from the air that would change my life forever. My brother Burt and I spent a lot of time building and flying model airplanes. I’d fly ‘em until they crashed. Burt entered a lot of contests and won many awards in model airplanes. And one letter written almost 43 years ago to my mother from a Beech aircraft executive who said I hope too since Burt is so air minded that he can use his talent and perhaps someday become an aeronautical engineer.
We talked our dad into buying a plane. And we spent as much time as possible flying with Pop. We went to many air shows and I would see the big fighter jets. “I want to fly one of those planes one day” I would tell my mom. And she would say Dick, you can do anything that you set your mind to and she was right. I took lessons when I was 15 and the day I turned 16 and before I even got my driver’s license I was in command of an airplane flying solo. I went on to fly those big fighter jets in Vietnam and after I returned from the Air Force I did some test pilot work for the most ingenious aircraft designer in the world. He went on to design and build, dozens of different airplanes including the Voyager and today it is my distinct pleasure to introduce that ingenious aircraft designer my brother, Mr. Burt Rutan. (applause)
Rutan: Burt’s design of the Voyager made the impossible, possible. Jeana and I flew around the world without stopping and without refueling. I later went on to fly another one of Burt’s designs, a Long EZ, around the world – this time with many stops on the EAA’s Spirit of Friendship tour. Burt also designed a capsule so I could fly around the world in a balloon but that project was halted when another team captured the world’s record. But I don’t think we’re through dreaming of setting records. We’ll never be through. I’ve learned that if you can dream it you can do it. One can only wonder how many other aviation dreams will be launched with this Soarin’ Over California attraction. All it takes is seeing the earth from the sky. Thank you for joining us today as this exciting new piece of Disney history begins. And remember, you are only limited by what you can dream. (applause)
Pressler: As a pioneer aviator and builder of the Spirit of St. Louis T. Claude said “I remember my very first flight as the beautiful rolling hills of California spread out below me I felt freedom. Perhaps years to come others can be helped to enjoy the sight of clouds all around you, of sunrise, of sunsets, while soaring above the cities, farms and rivers of Cal, unfettered.” May today you discover this same freedom of flight as you embark on our newest adventure, Soarin’ Over California.
Announcer: “Ladies and Gentlemen please join us on the inaugural flight of Soarin’ Over California.”
(after a short pause two military jets flew over Soarin’ Over California)