March 22, 2013
By Dave Hirschman
Bill Harrelson, a distance-record-setting pilot, plans to abandon a double-polar flight after encountering adverse weather at the bottom of the world.
Harrelson, 68, had flown his modified Lancair IV to Punta Arenas, Chile, last week and expected to overfly the South Pole on his way to New Zealand. But icing conditions over the Southern Ocean, and now severe headwinds and the onset of winter, have convinced him to return home instead.
“I’ve been spending many hours in the (weather) office at the airport,” he said in an email March 22. “There is a window tomorrow that would provide an ice free flight to Antarctica but with severe turbulence and winds of up to 70 knots, a substantial component of which would be headwind. If I took that window, I’d also have to deal with very strong headwinds from Antarctica to New Zealand, a portion of the route that almost always produces tailwinds. Making New Zealand with dry feet could be problematic.
“The likelihood of finding a window that is free of ice and has acceptable winds is decreasing very, very rapidly. It’s just too late in what has been an unusually bad season.”
Harrelson departed for Key West, Fla., on March 24—a 30-hour, nonstop flight—and says he’s looking forward to getting home to Fredericksburg, Va., soon after.
“It is with great disappointment that I officially throw in the towel and give up the attempt,” he said. “I have a MUCH better understanding now about why this is such a difficult and rarely attempted record.”
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
Cessna Aircraft staff gathered around the first production Citation Latitude to celebrate another step toward certification of an aircraft important to the firm’s future.
New draft airman certification standards are available for review on the FAA’s website. In addition to releasing the draft standards, the FAA also announced that it would be deleting questions from the private pilot airplane knowledge test, effective Feb. 9.
A California charter school has teamed up with a glider school to give students a potentially life-changing opportunity.
VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN NEAR YOU!
SHARE YOUR PASSION. VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN. CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
VOLUNTEER LOCALLY AT AOPA FLY-IN! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
BE A PART OF THE FLY-IN VOLUNTEER CREW! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>