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TotalMayhem
23-12-2011, 11:19 AM
This day in history: 23 December 1986

The Rutan Model 76 Voyager was the first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping or refueling. It was piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager. The flight took off from Edwards Air Force Base's 15,000 foot (4,600 m) runway in the Mojave Desert on December 14, 1986, and ended 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds later, on December 23. The aircraft flew easterly 26,366 statute miles (42,432 km; the FAI accredited distance is 40,212 km) at an average altitude of 11,000 feet (3,350 m). This definitively broke a previous record set by a United States Air Force crew piloting a Boeing B-52 that flew 12,532 miles (20,168 km) in 1962.

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In a few days, a project from Pipistrel aims to achieve new world-rounding goal. One pilot will set off early in 2012 in a Pipistrel aircraft with the intent to round the world in a fixed wing aircraft, burning the least amount of fuel per distance flown. He will not be taking the shortest route possible.

This adventure will be mounted by biologist Matevz Lenarcic in collaboration with Pipistrel. The aircraft will be the 640-pound Virus SW Worldrounder. According to a company engineer, the aircraft can carry little more than 92 gallons for a range of roughly 2,000 nautical miles. It will fly behind a modified, inter-cooled, Rotax 914 and a custom propeller. The mating of airframe, engine and propeller will achieve cruise speeds of 170 kts at high altitudes. The trip is being called the GreenLight WorldFlight. It will fly around the world, westbound, and will see flight over seven continents and three oceans. Lenarcic aims to use the flight to acquire photographs of the world's geography as differentiated by water quality and distribution. Lenarcic intends to publish a book about world waters based on the images.