Author Topic: Round the World helicopter record flight.  (Read 2381 times)

Offline Rooster Cruiser

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Round the World helicopter record flight.
« on: August 19, 2008, 12:20:59 AM »
Now why didn't Chuck try doing this?  I know, I know... he would have gotten lost on the first leg!

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Of all the around-the-world records in existence, traveling around the globe in a helicopter might seem to be one of the more obscure.

Yet when American pilots Scott Kasprowicz and Steve Sheik returned to New York's LaGuardia Airport early on Monday, the two appeared to have smashed the previous round-the-world speed record for helicopters by about six days, according to representatives of the helicopter's manufacturer.

Billed as "The Grand Adventure," Kasprowicz and Sheik completed their journey in an unofficial time of 11 days, seven hours and one minute.

The mark has been submitted to the National Aeronautical Association, a non-profit group that oversees and certifies aviation records in the United States, for verification, which is expected to take another day or so.

"It feels great. My body does not feel the same on the ground. It will be great to get home," an exhausted but exhilarated Sheik said by telephone.

The 23,000-mile journey took them through some rough weather and over mountainous terrain.

The helicopter, an executive version of the 109 Grand built by AgustaWestland, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica, was state of the art but not specially modified for the trek.

Planning was key to breaking the record set in 1996 by Ron Bower and co-pilot John Williams, who flew a Bell 430 around the world in 17 days, 6 hours, 14 minutes and 25 seconds.

The previous record flight took off from the United Kingdom but both crews flew similar routes due to the many refueling stops.

"Devising a route is the first issue, as are altitude and range," Sheik said, adding that the copter's highest cruising altitude was 11,000 feet, which subjected it to relatively low-level freezing in the northern climes.

"You don't have the ability to climb above weather," he said. "The air cools as you climb and in northern climates, the freezing point is reached sooner ... We also had no anti-icing capability."

From New York, the pilots charted a path that took them across the far North Atlantic, over Greenland, Iceland, the Faeroe Islands then across Britain into Western Europe, and 14 time zones in Russia, until finally crossing the Bering Strait into Alaska, before flying home across North America.

While Sheik was proud of the achievement, he said it did not compare to those of such early aviation luminaries as Amelia Earhart or Charles Lindbergh, who performed long-distance flying feats with much simpler aircraft.

"It isn't fair to compare us to the pioneers of aviation," he said. "But when looking at the logistics of planning about 80 flights, leg after leg, that's where the achievement is."
"Me 'n Earl was haulin' chickens / On a flatbed outta Wiggins..."

Wolf Creek Pass, by CW McCall