The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has unveiled its annual list detailing the Most Memorable Aviation Records of the previous year.
Each year NAA tracks dozens of aviation record attempts, certifying new records as the official record keeper for United States aviation and ratifying them with the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the world air sports federation.
Here is NAA’s list of honorees for 2006:
Steve Fossett’s adventures in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer established so many new records that it was hard to choose just one, but NAA was most impressed with his new absolute record for Distance Without Landing. The GlobalFlyer’s 25,766.73 mile flight around the globe improved upon Fossett’s 2005 solo record of 20,372 miles, and also marked the 20-year anniversary of Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager’s 1986 absolute flight record of 24,986 miles in the Voyager.
It’s hard to tell what Bruce Hammer loves more: Racing airplanes in the sky or tinkering with his Glasair-1 TD on the ground. His custom modifications to the plane helped him shatter the West to East Transatlantic Speed Record in the class, flying 2,090 miles across the country at an average speed of 258.27 miles per hour, improving on the previous record by more than 57 miles per hour.
Andy Keech now holds nearly every record in the autogyro category, but he’s particularly proud of one achievement: In a single flight last year in the Little Wing LW5 autogyro he calls “Woodstock,” he established new performance records for speed, distance, altitude and rate of climb, an exceedingly rare accomplishment for an aircraft in any class. Most impressive of the bunch: Keech pushed the Distance Without Landing record to 672.89 miles, a 76% improvement over the previous record.
Bruce Kaufman and Matthew McDaniel pulled out a map of Wisconsin, circled every paved, public-use airport in the state, and started planning their route. Flying in Kaufman’s Cirrus SR-22 — dubbed “The Blue Kids One” in honor of the children Kaufman works with as medical director at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin — the duo used the flight to raise more than $12,000 for the hospital’s pediatric neurosurgery program. With just three fuel stops, Kaufman and McDaniel flew 2,119 nautical miles and landed at every public-use airport in Wisconsin — plus one private airstrip and one military base for good measure — in 16 hours, 42 minutes, and 14 seconds.
Not content with merely making the grade, overachieving undergraduate Thomas Hays and graduate Daniel Bierly from the Aerospace Design program at Oklahoma State University set their sights on the record books. The team kept its radio-controlled battery-powered “Dragonfly” plane airborne for 12 hours, 21 minutes, and 40 seconds, breaking the previous record by nearly two hours. The aircraft has a wingspan of 14.5 feet and weighs just 11.02 pounds.
NAA officials expect they may have to reserve an annual spot on the list for Steve Fossett; this year he made the cut twice. Wearing NASA space suits and powered only by air currents above the Andes Mountains, Fossett and Einar Enevoldson flew their Perlan glider into the stratosphere at 50,727 feet above El Calafate, Argentina, beating the previous record by 1,718 feet.
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