October 21, 2013
By Alton K. Marsh
Whenever Gulfstream launches a new jet, it is almost a company tradition that the new model establish a world speed record. So it is with the Gulfstream G650 that circled the world westward in 41 hours and seven minutes. It is the fastest trip ever for a non-supersonic aircraft. The record has been certified by the National Aeronautic Association.
So how fast is that? The ultra-long-range, ultra-large-cabin flagship had an average speed of 568.5 mph (tenths of a mile an hour matter when it is a world record). The flight also, just for good measure, set 22 city-pair records in the process. The G650 has a total of 38 records since that first one back in 2011 from Burbank, Calif., to Savannah, Ga., where Gulfstream is located.
The G650 flew each leg of the 20,310-nautical-mile journey at Mach 0.90. Five pilots shared the duties. The flight began July 1, from San Diego's Brown Field Municipal Airport. It reached Guam in 10 hours and 29 minutes. The time spent on the ground refueling totaled 1.5 hours.
"The aircraft performed flawlessly, which is what we expected," said pilot in command Tom Horne (no relation to AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne). It took 30 company employees to plan and execute the flight.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
Around the World Flight,
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