19.03.2010 ROUND-THE-WORLD RECORD CREW ARE CLEAR FOR TAKE-OFF TIME TO BEAT: 67HRS 1MIN 10SECS
American Fossett set the current record on February 11, 2006 in a specially-built multi-million dollar aircraft, the Virgin GlobalFlyer. In contrast, Swiss-Italian aviator Riccardo Mortara (62) and co-pilots Gabriel Mortara (28 – Riccardo’s eldest son) and Flavien Guderzo (26) will attempt the record in a 30 year-old mainstream business jet.
If successful, it will be an incredible underdog story and a dramatic example of skilled pilotage, exacting logistics and navigation, and no shortage of luck.
Inside the spectacular Geneva Airpark hangar this morning, Riccardo , co-pilots Gabriel and Flavien, and mission controller Tom Zorman presented their adventure to the international media, and proudly showed off the aircraft they plan to fly into the history books.
With a maximum take-off weight of 10,886kg, Captain Mortara’s 1980 Rockwell Sabreliner 65 is in the same weight class as Fossett’s GlobalFlyer. The Sabreliner is faster and stronger. However, it is normally used to fly passengers in comfort and is incapable of a non-stop circumnavigation of the earth. In fact, it will require 10 carefully planned stops. The flight will be carbon neutral.
World record administrators, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, dictate that the plane and pilots must achieve a minimum distance of 36,700km, passing through all of the meridians.
Captain Mortara is no stranger to competition having been a professional ice hockey player and World Rally Championship driver in his youth. He began flying in 1972 and since then has accrued 13,000 hours of experience. He is the proprietor of Sonnig SA, a Geneva-based private jet charter company
The Sabreliner will fly over 33 countries and will stop in Abu Dhabi, Colombo, Macau, Osaka, Petropavlovsk, Anchorage, Las Vegas, Montreal, Keflavik and Casablanca. During the time it takes to re-fuel, the clock will be ticking. The crew aim to complete each stop in under 40 minutes.
Riccardo Mortara and his crew are taking on one of the toughest challenges in aviation.
Riccardo Mortara (mission commander): “Steve Fossett was a great man, a remarkable pilot and that record time was a fantastic achievement for flying and engineering. But I believe I can do it faster! It will be a wonderful achievement if this – the first business jet ever to be produced – could beat that class record. It would be like an elderly runner turning up to the Olympics and winning the marathon event. I elected to take my ‘Sabre’ on this trip, because it’s fast, strong and reliable. Its wings are built from a single piece of steel, so when you encounter turbulence you feel nothing. I feel safest in this plane. Myself and my crew have a burning desire to succeed in our endeavor, and whatever happens it will be the most exciting adventure for pilot and plane.”
Dr Nicolae Buzaianu (mission director): “Riccardo is my friend as well as my pilot, and I believe in him strongly. He’s a great man, and I don’t think there’s any pilot more skilled or as cool under pressure. I believe the world record can be his. I am excited for him, and thrilled to be contributing to this mission. If we succeed, I’ll be very proud.”