The world record that we are attempting, under both the Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), and Guinness World Records, is the Polar Circumnavigation of the Earth Speed Record for any aircraft.
The FAI speed record has stood for 11 years and is currently held by Capt. Aziz Ojjeh in a Bombardier Global XRS from 2008. The Guinness World Record, which is based purely on minimum time rather than average speed as with FAI, has stood for 42 years and is currently held by Capt. Walter Mullikin in a Pan Am 747SP from 1977. We are attempting to break both records simultaneously in a Gulfstream G650ER business jet, over an approximately 48 hour mission starting at 09:32 EDT in July 9th, 2019.
This requires us to start and finish at the same point on the earth, cross directly over the north and south poles, passing over the equator twice at between 120 and 180 degrees of longitude apart (i.e. we have to go up and down opposite sides of the earth). We cannot change flight crew, nor vary the route once declared to the record authorities.
The average speed over the course is calculated based on the Great Circle distance of our route which is 21,691 nautical miles (40,172 km). However, real flight planned routes are never quite as direct as Great Circles and ours is currently 22,328 nautical miles ( 41,351 km). So, an important part of any speed record attempt is negotiating even more direct routings with Air Traffic Control as we proceed.
Our route around the earth from the NASA Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida involves four sectors, and three refuel locations in Kazakhstan, Mauritius and Chile. Another critical part of the record is optimizing the refuel times to operate like “Formula 1 Pit Stops”. Our teams have already flown to each location in advance to plan and oversee the whole refuel process to reduce time on the ground to the absolute minimum possible. We will attempt refuel stops of less than 45 minutes each touchdown to takeoff, which requires “no delay” arrivals and departures ahead of any other aircraft using the airport at the time.
“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams” – Oprah Winfrey
– Capt. Hamish Harding, Chairman of Action Aviation, Mission Director and one of the four pilots flying the mission.