In the early days of flight, pioneer aviators discovered that the best route for trans-continental trips was from Jacksonville to San Diego, which didn’t require crossing any major mountain ranges, reporter Charlie Patton wrote in the Jacksonville News, June 9. That’s why Matt Hansen and Jessica Scharle chose Jacksonville’s Cecil Field as the departure point for a flight they made on June 8.
Cecil Field airport manager Rusty Chandler certified their takeoff at 5:59 a.m. Eastern time. They landed at San Diego’s Gillespie Field at 10:22 p.m. Pacific time, after flying some 1,813 miles.
Hanson hopes their 19 hours, 23 minutes flight, including five stops totaling almost 90 minutes, will be certified as a record for Special Light Sport aircraft, which can’t weigh more than 1,320 pounds or fly faster than 120 knots at sea level under normal conditions.
With the help of Chandler and other observers, Hanson is submitting paperwork to the National Aeronautic Association and to the Guinness Book of World Records, neither of which currently recognizes a cross-country record for S-LSA. Hansen calls flying “a family addiction.”
Scharle is a former student of his at Able Flight, an organization which teaches disabled people to fly. Scharle, who works as a trainer for an educational company, was born with a condition that gives her very limited mobility.
Hansen said they took turns piloting and navigating until the sun went down with about two hours of flying time left. He then finished at the controls of the plane his grandmother named Peregrine.
Scharle said she made the trip for the experience and to help get the word out about Able Flight. Hansen, a recent college graduate who is hoping for a career as commercial pilot, said he loved the logistical challenge of planning and executing the trip.
The two Atlanta residents plan to fly home commercially while Hansen’s great-uncle, who owns the airplane, flies it back across the country.