NAA reveals the most memorable aviation records of 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the official record keeper for United States aviation, the National Aeronautic Association tracks dozens of world and national record attempts each year.

New U.S. records are certified and those qualifying as world records are then ratified with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). At the end of each year, under the direction of the NAA Contest and Records Department, records certified for that year are reviewed and a list of the “most memorable” is created.

Here is the list for 2013:

DISTANCE: 8,114.9 miles: Record for airplanes (piston engine, weighing 3,858 < 6,614 lbs): With 2,200 pounds of fuel aboard his modified Lancair IV, Bill Harrelson took off from the island of Guam on March 1 and flew non-stop for 38 hours, 38 minutes, landing in Jacksonville, Fla. He beat the previous record of 7,928 miles set in 1987.

DURATION: 18 hours, 6 minutes, 13 seconds; Record for model aircraft (radio-controlled airplane with electric motor): Andre Mellin hand-launched his radio-controlled model airplane from Norris Field in Liberty, Ind., the evening of Aug. 4. Sharing the controls throughout the night withfellow pilots David Brown and Joseph Mekina, the team landed the model airplane the next afternoon when the rechargeable batteries were exhausted. They beat the previous record of 12 hours, 36 minutes set in 2008.

SPEED AROUND THE WORLD, WESTBOUND: 568.48 mph: Record for airplanes (jet engine, weighing 77,162 < 99,208 lbs): Gulfstream G650 Captain Thomas Horne and his crew departed San Diego’s Brown Field on July 1 on a westbound journey around the world. Stopping to refuel in Guam, Dubai, and Cape Verde (before returning to San Diego), the team covered more than 23,370 miles in just 41 hours, 6 minutes (total elapsed time). Other members of the crew were Harold Ball, John McGrath, Ross Oetjen, and Eric Parker. There was no previous record established for this class of aircraft.

ALTITUDE: 42,568 feet: Record for airplanes (piston engine, weighing 6,614 < 13,228 lbs): Taking off from the grass runway at Florida’s Indiantown Airport, Douglas Matthews flew his World War-II era North American P-51D Mustang over Lake Okeechobee to an altitude of 42,568 feet. His record set on May 22 beat the previous record of 36,902 feet set in 1954.

TIME TO CLIMB TO 3,000 METERS: 5 minutes 32 seconds: Record for airplanes (electric motor, weighing 1,102 < 2,205 lbs): In a series of record attempts in the new electric motor classification, Chip Yates flew his lithium-ion battery powered Long-EZ from a standing start on Inyokern’s runway 15 to a height of 9,843 feet in 5 minutes, 32 seconds. His flight on Nov. 24 broke his own record of 6 minutes, 28 seconds set earlier in the year.

SKYDIVING HEAD-DOWN FORMATION: 63 parachutists: Record for parachuting (vertical formation, female): Jumping from a Skyvan and two Twin Otters at 18,000 feet above Eloy, Ariz., 63 women skydivers assembled in a head-down formation. Their jump on Nov. 30 beat the previous record of 41 parachutists set in 2010.

DISTANCE ALONG A COURSE, FREE FLIGHT: 936.1 miles: Record for solar powered airplanes: Fuelled by the sun and powered by four electric motors, the 208-foot wingspan Solar Impulse flew non-stop from Phoenix to Dallas on May 23. Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg flew the airplane on the second leg of the “Across America” mission, breaking his own record of 693 miles that he set a year earlier.

The record setters will be honored at NAA’s Spring Awards Ceremony and Luncheon, which will be held in Arlington, Va., on March 18.

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