Sport Aviation's Gutsiest Lancair Pilot On Circum-Polar Quest
There are ways to orbit Planet Earth and there are ways to orbit Planet Earth -- and even to those of us who have played closely with space technology, and the rocket game, have to admit that Bill Harrelson's current quest is hard to beat in terms of courage, excitement, guts and daring.
As I write this, and while much of the aviation world here in the states is sitting down to hot dinners, or an evening in front of the tube, Former Airline Jock and now-current world record pilot, Bill Harrelson, is on the way to Recife, Brazil -- on the first leg of a flight around the world... via the North and South pole.
After a recent flight that may make him the top dog in all the world as far as long distance flights in single-engine piston powered aircraft go, Bill Harrelson's homebuilt Lancair IV left Bangor, Maine, a number of hours ago and is now over the Atlantic after a short delay in Maine waiting for better enroute weather. Harrelson is possibly one of the highest time Lancair pilots in the world with thousands of hours in the breed and over 28000 hours total time.
He's already accomplished some amazing things...and in just the last few weeks. We're told that Bill's recent flight from Guam to KJAX is more than the simple record setter we supposed, as we're told that, '...Previous to this the longest single engine flights in history belonged to Max Conrad and Peter Wilkins.... The longest flight with a single jet engine of course belongs to Steve Fosset in his Global Flyer, but Bill's flight puts him in damned good company.'
Harrelson's plans are to hop around the world in a few, VERY long segments... Bangor, ME -- Recife, Brazil -- Punta Arenas, Chile -- Christchurch, New Zealand -- Honolulu, HI -- Fairbanks, AK and back to Bangor, ME. We also understand and have been informed, directly, that the story we did on the difficulties he experienced in maintaining his insurance coverage resulted in enough exposure to draw the attention of another insurer... who has apparently insured this trip!
According to Bill's wife, Sue (also a VERY accomplished pilot), the Harrelsons have expressed, "Many thanks to Nationair for coming through with worldwide insurance for this record attempt!"
At the moment, Bill is doing 180 knots, and cruising at 11,500 feet, East of Venezuela. He should make Recife early Friday morning.
ANN will update this story as information presents itself, but you can check his progress for yourself byu monitoring either tacking link in the FMI, below.
Godspeed, Bill Harrelson!!!