Moments & Milestones: Ten Most Wanted
- By Stuart Nixon
- Air & Space magazine, September 2002
ANYONE WITH A HANKERING to get in the aviation record books should check out the “Ten Most Wanted Aviation Records,” recently announced by the National Aeronautic Association. To set a new record, a pilot must better the standing record by at least three percent.
1. ALTITUDE in a piston engine aircraft. Any piston engine aircraft, large or small, factory-built or custom, is eligible. The current record, 56,046 feet, was set in 1938 by Mario Pezzi, an Italian, in a Caproni 161.
2. SPEED around the world (westbound) in a piston engine aircraft with a takeoff weight of 2,205 to 3,857 pounds. Measured in terms of average speed from start to finish, the clock keeps ticking at every stop. The current record is 54 mph, set by Americans Charles Classen and Phillip Greth in a Beech Bonanza in 1988. Many Cessnas, Pipers, Mooneys, Beechcraft, and homebuilts are in this weight class.
3. SPEED over a 15- to 25-kilometer (9.3- to 15.5-mile) straight course in a turboprop aircraft with a takeoff weight of 3,858 to 6,613 pounds. The current record is 220 mph, set in 1986 by Americans Robert Hayes and Jack Schweibold with a rare turbo Beech Bonanza. Either a Socata TBM 700 or a Beech T-6A Texan II would be a good bet to break this record.
4. ALTITUDE with a payload of 1,000 or 2,000 kilograms (2,210 or 4,420 pounds) in a turboprop aircraft with a takeoff weight of 13,228 to 19,841 pounds. Russia holds the record: 20,013 feet, reached in 1985 by Vladimir Lysenko in an Antonov An-3. The King Air, Beech 1900, and Swearingen-Fairchild Merlin are in this weight class.
5. DISTANCE without landing in a jet aircraft with a takeoff weight of 99,208 to 132,276 pounds. The current distance record was set by Australian Ian Haigh, who covered 3,891 miles in a Boeing 737 in 1992.
6. DISTANCE in a closed circuit (without landing) in a piston engine seaplane. This record was set in 1937 when Italy’s Mario Stoppani completed a circuit of 3,231 miles in a CRDA Cant Z.506. Possible contenders are the Consolidated PBY Catalina and the Grumman U-16 Albatross.
7. DURATION of time aloft, regardless of distance traveled, for an airship no more than 6,000 cubic meters in size. American Bryan Allen holds the record of 8 hours, 50 minutes, 12 seconds, set in 1985 in a Raven White Dwarf. Two candidates are the ABC Lightship and GSI Skyship.
8. DISTANCE without landing in a vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft. The current record of 423 miles, set by Germany’s Drury Wood in a Dornier Do 31, has stood since 1969. An obvious candidate: the Harrier.
9. SPEED around the world over the poles in a jet aircraft. The current record of 487 mph was set in 1977 by a five-person crew in a Pan Am Boeing 747SP. They started in San Francisco, crossed the North Pole, flew over Europe and Africa, crossed the South Pole, and returned to California via New Zealand in 54 hours.
10. DISTANCE without landing in a jet aircraft. U.S. Air Force Major Clyde Evely holds the present mark-to-beat—12,532 miles—which he attained in a Boeing B-52H in 1962 by flying from Okinawa to Madrid.