February 21, 2013
By Jim Moore
Felix Baumgartner celebrates a safe landing after setting world freefall records for speed and altitude Oct. 14. Photo courtesy Red Bull Stratos.
A diverse field of 2012 aviation record-setters deemed “most memorable” by the nation’s official aeronautical record-keepers will be honored March 12 at the National Aeronautic Association’s spring awards.
Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian daredevil who shattered the sound barrier in October wearing a David Clark pressure suit and parachute, tops the NAA list with his official freefall distance of 119,431 feet after jumping from 127,852 feet above the New Mexico desert. Baumgartner also broke the sound barrier (at 843 mph), and his jump bested the previous freefall distance set in 1962.
California race pilot Will Whiteside will be honored for his 381 mph run over Interstate 505 in California, flying a Russian Yakovlev Yak-3U racer (powered by a Pratt & Whitney R2000-7M2 engine rated at 1,750 horsepower).
In much slower fashion, engineering students at the University of Maryland set a new record for human-powered helicopter flight endurance at 65.1 seconds in Gamera II. The original Gamera was nominated for NAA’s Robert J. Collier Trophy in 2011, edged out by Boeing’s Dreamliner. The team now has its sights set on another prize: the $250,000 Sikorsky Prize from the American Helicopter Society.
Gulfstream G150 pilots Timothy McClelland and Brian Erickson will be honored for a nonstop flight from California to Georgia in January 2012, averaging 599 mph over the 3-hour, 26-minute flight that set a new record for transcontinental speed, west to east.
Other records to be recognized March 12 include distance marks set with a hang glider, and radio-controlled glider.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
AOPA President Mark Baker and AOPA Foundation Executive Director Jim Minow are challenging one another to see who can recruit the most Hat in the Ring Society members for the foundation before the end of the year.
Two general aviation airports located two miles apart in a remote section of northeast Oregon are coming alive, thanks to pilots and area residents.
Installing a fuel farm at Berrien County Airport in Nashville, Georgia, could increase the airport’s economic impact on the local community from its last reported $682,200 to nearly $1 million, according to AOPA.
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