360 Degrees - Swiss Aviation Team Sets Fastest Round-the-World Record
by Kaya Morgan
Historic Landing - Geneva, Switzerland: No one had been able to beat legendary pilot, Steve Fossett’s circumnavigation flight record of 2005…..until now. On Sunday, March 21st, 2010, the 360 World Record crew touched down in Geneva, Switzerland, breaking America's most famous adventurer, Steve Fossett's, 2005 World Record.
On the day of the race, the volcanic erruption in Iceland disrupped air travel around the globe, cancelling their most vital fuel landing. Forced to turn around half-way across the Atlantic, there were some tense minutes in the cockpit. Yet, even with a 4-hour time loss, they still beat the existing record by one hour – all while breaking eleven other world records simutaneosly!
Unlike the custom-built, multi-million dollar, Virgin GlobalFlyer used for Fossett's flight, the 360° team of Swiss-Italian aviator, Captain Riccardo Mortara (62), and co-pilots (and eldest son) Gabriel Mortara (28), and Flavien Guderzo (26) were attempting to beat the record in a 30-year old mainstream business jet. Captain Mortara and his crew were taking on one of the toughest challenges in aviation history. Could it be done? They answered with a resounding, “yes!”
Although unknown at takeoff, this successful flight would turn out to be one of the aviation events of the decade, and one of the most incredible underdog stories ever written. It will be a dramatic example of skilled pilotage, exacting logistics and navigation – with a little luck thrown in for good measure – all done in an aircraft they planned to fly straight into the history books.
Just as Fossett’s flight was enabled by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Air, this mission was made possible by Nicolae Buzaianu, mission director and chairman of the Swiss energy company, Selectra. “Ricardo is my friend, as well as my pilot. He’s a great man, and I don’t think there is any pilot more skilled or as cool under pressure. I truly believe the world record can be his, and I am thrilled to be a part of this mission,” said Buzaianu.
This historic adventure took the crew and passengers over 33 countries, stopping in 10 cities to refuel while briefly chatting with the press. World record administrators, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale with observer Janez Erjavec on-board, dictated that a plane must achieve a minimum distance of 36,700 km, passing through all of the meridians. After take-off from Geneva (Switzerland), the wheels touched down in Abu Dhabi (UAE), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Macau (China), Osaka (Japan), Petropavlovsk (Russia), Anchorage (Alaska), Las Vegas (Nevada), Montreal (Canada), Keflavik (Iceland), and Casablanca (Morocco) before returning to Geneva.
Captain Mortara’s 1980 Rockwell Sabreliner 65 was the first purpose-built business jet ever produced. Keeping to a maximum take-off weight of 10,886 kg puts it in the same weight class as Fossett’s GlobalFlyer. “Steve Fossett was a great man and a remarkable pilot. His record time was a fantastic achievement for flying and engineering but I believe I can do it faster,” says Mortara. “I elected to take my Sabre on this trip because it’s fast, strong and reliable. The wings are built from a single piece of steel, so when you encounter turbulence, you feel nothing,” Mortara goes on to say. As the owner of Sonnig SA, a Swiss-based private jet charter company, his standards for aircraft are of the highest order.
Live information on this world-class event was simutaneously broadcast on the mission’s official web site, www.360WorldRecord.com. GPS tracked the Sabreliner alongside Steve Fossett’s Virgin GlobalFlyer route to keep track of who was winning in real time. Online gambling web sites and casinos in Machao, Las Vegas and Montreal were also accepting wagers on the flight.
Media information was sent live from the aircraft during the flight, with blog posts, Twitter feeds at 360WorldRecord, and through live telephone interviews with the crew and passengers on board. A cameraman and photographer were on board providing footage available in the public domain. Film clip footage, additional images, and exclusive one-on-one interviews can be found on the 360 web site.
About Sonnig: Based in Geneva, Torino and Moscow, the company provides private jet charter services to an elite clientele. With flexibility, availability, a sense of duty, and 35 years’ aeronautical experience, the company tailors itself to every customer offering the highest standards of hospitality and transportation service. The fleet currently comprises six jets, including the Sabreliner 65.
About Selectra: Engineering services and complex solutions for efficient energy management, integrated systems and maintenance. Its turnkey solutions and software packages guarantee results that boost operational efficiency and are centered on high availability, flexibility and compatibility. These synergies are shared with Sonnig, Riccardo Mortara’s jet charter operation, and the demands made of it by its clients.
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More stories by journalist, Kaya Morgan, can be found by clicking the link. Contact us for reprint rights as most articles are available.
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