ROUND THE GLOBE EXPEDITION
of Round the World Flight
Flight Round the World
1924 four Douglas World Cruisers and eight American
crewmen set out from Seattle, Washington, to attempt
the first around-the-world airplane flight. One
hundred seventy-five days later three of the aircraft
and crews became the first to circumnavigate earth.
The Douglas World Cruiser biplane was a variant
of the Navy's DT-2 torpedo bomber that could be
operated either with wheels or floats. The prototype
was delivered 45 days after the contract was let
in summer 1923. Tests were successful, and four
more aircraft were ordered. Each of the aircraft
was named after a US city representing a compass
point: Seattle, crewed by Maj. Frederick Martin
(pilot and flight commander) and SSgt. Alva Harvey
(flight mechanic); Chicago, crewed by Lt. Lowell
H. Smith (pilot) and 1st Lt. Leslie Arnold; Boston,
with 1st Lt. Leigh P. Wade (pilot) and SSgt. Henry
H. Ogden aboard; and New Orleans, with Lt. Erik
Nelson (pilot) and Lt. Jack Harding in the cockpits.
success was largely a result of extensive planning;
30 spare engines were dispatched all over the world
prior to the flight; with co-operation of the Royal
Air Force and the US Navy, 28 nations supplied thousands
of gallons of fuel and oil along the flight path.
airplanes left Seattle, Washington, on 6 April 1924
and headed west, equipped with the latest navigational
aids. Even so, fog, blizzards, thunderstorms and
sand storms took a toll. On April 30, Seattle crashed
in dense fog on a mountainside near Port Moller
on the Alaska Peninsula. Major Martin and Sergeant
Harvey hiked out of the wilderness. The remaining
crews continued, flying on to Japan, Southeast Asia,
India, the Middle East, Europe, England, and Ireland.
On 3 August Boston was forced down in the North
Atlantic, sinking in rough seas while being towed.
A prototype was dispatched to Nova Scotia, where
Lieutenant Wade and Sergeant Ogden renamed the aircraft
Boston II and rejoined the flight. The crews stopped
in several US cities and returned triumphantly to
Seattle on 28 September.
The trip had totalled 175 days, covering 44 360
km (27,553 miles), with stops in 61 cities, the
total flying time being 371 hours, 11 minutes.
in 1931, ex-barnstormer Post and navigator Harold
Gatty had thrilled the world by dashing around the
globe in the Winnie Mae. The flight was not only
a great technical achievement, but one which demanded
extraordinary fortitude. For over 106 hours, neither
Post nor Gatty had an opportunity to sleep. The
flight's elapsed time of 8 days, 15 hours and 51
minutes far surpassed the previous record of 21
days set in 1929 by the airship Graf Zeppelin.
Solo flight round the world
years later, in 1933, it took another American,
Wiley Post, only 7 days to be the first to fly solo
around the world. Between July 15 and 22, Post covered
25 110 km (15,596 miles) in 7 days, 18 hours and
49 minutes in one of the most remarkable displays
of flying endurance of the century. Post's single
engine Lockheed Vega, the Winnie Mae was equipped
with a Sperry automatic pilot, a radio direction
finder, and other new devices.
Non stop flight round the world
first non-stop flight around the world was made
by, again, a team of the US Air Force flyers in
1949. Taking off from Carswell Air Force base in
Fort Worth, Texas on 26 February, Captain James
Gallagher and a crew of 14 headed east in a B-50
Superfortress, called Lucky Lady II. They were refuelled
four times in air by KB-29 tanker planes of the
43rd Air Refuelling Squadron, over the Azores, Saudi
Arabia, the Philippines and Hawaii. The circumnavigation
was completed on 2 March, having traveled 94 hours
and 1 minute, covering 37 743 km (23,452 miles)
at an average 398 km/h (249 mph).
around the world, nonstop, non-refuelled
By 1986 designer Burt Rutan and pilots Dick Rutan
and Jeana Yeager had devoted over five years to
building and flight-testing the Voyager. The canard
wing design, or forward elevator, similar to that
successfully used by the Wright brothers in 1903,
provided additional lift and improved the plane's
efficiency and range. A preliminary sketch of the
1903 Wright Flyer was drawn on a brown paper bag
in the Wrights' living quarters in 1902. Coincidentally,
the first sketch of the Voyager was made on a paper
lunch napkin in 1980.
Constructed of graphite composites, Voyager's total
weight was 4 050 kg (9 000 pounds), including an
unprecedented 3150 kg (7 000 pounds) of fuel. On
14 December 1986 Richard Rutan and Jeana Yeager
took off from Edwards, California, piloting the
Voyager from a cramped 2,3 m (7.5 ft) long, 1,1
m (3.3 ft) wide and 1m (3 ft) tall cockpit. Voyager's
takeoff weight was more than 10 times the structural
weight, but its drag was lower than almost any other
powered aircraft. Voyager's wingtips sustained minor
damage during its takeoff roll because of the massive
amount of fuel. Approximately 75 cm (2.5 ft) of
graphite skin was missing from the left wing's foam
Traveling at an average speed of 185 km/h (115.8
mph), it took the Voyager 9 days, 3 minutes and
44 seconds to become the first aircraft to circumnavigate
the globe nonstop, non-refuelling. They triumphantly
landed again at the Edwards Air Force Base at 8:06
a.m. PST 23 December 1987.
First around the world
non stop, non refueled, solo
Between February 8, 2006 – February 11, 2006,
Fossett flew the GlobalFlyer for the longest aircraft
flight in history: 25,766 miles (41,467 km).
The Scaled Composites Model 311 Virgin Atlantic
GlobalFlyer is an aircraft designed by Burt Rutan
in which Steve Fossett flew the first solo nonstop
airplane flight around the world in a time of 67
hours 1 minute from February 28, 2005 until March
3, 2005. The flight speed of 550.7 km/h (342.2 mph)
broke the Absolute World Record for the fastest
nonstop circumnavigation set by the previous Rutan-designed
Voyager aircraft at 9 days 3 minutes and an average
speed of 186.11 km/h (115.65 mph). The attempt was
described as "the last great aviation record
The aircraft was owned by the pilot Steve Fossett,
sponsored by Richard Branson's airline, Virgin Atlantic,
and built by Burt Rutan's company, Scaled Composites.
The companies had previously announced a combined
effort for Virgin Galactic.
United States Army Air Service, 1924, first
aerial circumnavigation, 175 days, covering
44,360 kilometres (27,553 miles).
LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin, 1929, piloted by Hugo
Eckener set a record for the fastest aerial
circumnavigation, 21 days, which was also the
first circumnavigation in an airship.
On July 1, 1931, pilot Wiley Post and navigator
Harold Gatty completed their circumnavigation
of the world in a Lockheed Vega aeroplane, Winnie
Mae, in 8 days, 15 hours and 51 minutes; the
record for fastest circumnavigation was once
again held by an aeroplane.
In 1932 Wolfgang von Gronau flew around the
World with a twin engine Dornier seaplane, Gronland-Wal
D-2053, in nearly four months, making 44 stops
en route. He was accompanied by co-pilot Gerth
von Roth, mechanic Franzl Hack, and radio operator
In 1933 Wiley Post repeated his circumnavigation
by aeroplane, but this time solo, using an autopilot
and radio direction finder. He made the first
solo aerial circumnavigation in a time one day
faster than his previous record: 7 days, 19
hours, 49 minutes, in which he covered 25,110
kilometres (15,596 mi).
In 1949 the United States Air Force B-50 Superfortress
Lucky Lady II made the first non-stop aerial
circumnavigation in 94 hours and 1 minute. Four
in-air refuelings were required for the flight,
which covered 37,743 kilometres (23,452 mi).
In 1961 Yuri Gagarin made the first human flight
in space, and completed the first orbit of the
Earth, in Vostok 1.
Geraldine Mock, 1964, first woman to complete
a solo aerial circumnavigation.
Don Taylor, 1976, first general aviation circumnavigation
by homebuilt aircraft.
Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, 1986, Voyager,
first non-refueled circumnavigation in an airplane,
9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds.
Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones, 1999, first
non-stop balloon circumnavigation in Breitling
Orbiter 3, 19 days, 1 hour and 49 minutes, covering
Steve Fossett, 2 July 2002, first solo balloon
Steve Fossett, 3 March 2005, first non-stop,
non-refueled solo circumnavigation in an airplane,
67 hours, covering 37,000 kilometres.
Steve Fossett, 11 February 2006, longest non-stop,
non-refueled solo flight (with circumnavigation)
in an airplane, covering 42,469.5 kilometres
(26,389.3 mi), in 76 hours and 45 minutes.
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