The Witness

Want to set a record-breaking flight? You’ll need an observer from the National Aeronautic Association.

Art Greenfield with the Spirit of Freedom capsule in which Steve Fossett circled the globe alone in 2002. (Eric Long)
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Greenfield: It varies considerably depending on the attempt. That particular one was a half-day commitment because it was so close, just down the road. Other ones can be several days, maybe even a week. Just depending on the type of record attempt. When the University of Maryland was trying for the human-powered helicopter flights, they made attempts over several days. 

A&S: Did they make the record?

Greenfield: The first claim we approved was set back in May. It was approved, and that’s now being approved by [parent organization] Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Then they made, in July, a second attempt, and made a claim, and we have not yet approved it. We’re still reviewing it, so it’s in process. 

A&S: What goes into the reviewing process?

Greenfield: This particular one is a bit different, simply because we don’t have much activity in that area. This was recorded with video cameras. 

A&S: So it takes as long to review it as it did to set the record?

Greenfield: In this case, yeah, it will take a bit longer, going through those records. This one is a little unusual in that regard. Luckily I didn’t have to watch 18 hour and 25 minute flight for Mr. Ebneter.

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