Action Aviation Chairman Hamish Harding, Astronaut Terry Virts and Qatar Executive made history.
They achieved it by completing the fastest ever Circumnavigation of the Earth via both the North and South Poles in a time of 46 hours and 40 minutes, at an average speed of 465 knots (or 535 mph or 861 km/h).
The world record attempt, achieved in a Qatar Executive Gulfstream G650ER aircraft, was called One More Orbit (www.onemoreorbit.com) in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
The Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) average speed record stood for 11 years held by Captain Aziz Ojjeh in a Bombardier Global XRS from 2008. Ojjeh completed the polar circumnavigation in 52 hours and 32 minutes, at an average ground speed of 444 knots (or 511 mph or 822 km/h). He did not claim the GUINNESS WORLD RECORD™ for his achievement, but would have qualified for both.
According to GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™, the fastest aerial circumnavigation of the Earth via both geographical poles was achieved by Captain Walter Mullikin 42 years ago in a Pan Am Boeing 747SP in 1977 in 54 hours and 7 minutes, at an average speed of 423 knots (or 486 mph or 783 km/h). He started and ended in San Francisco, stopping in South Africa and New Zealand.
One More Orbit broke both the FAI and GUINNESS WORLD RECORD™ simultaneously in its mission, which began at 09:32 EDT on July 9, 2019 from the NASA Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida. The flight, using a Gulfstream G650ER aircraft registered A7-CGD, callsign One More Orbit, beat the previous record (from 2008) by 5 hours and 52 minutes.
Speed refuels were achieved in Nur-sultan, Kazakhstan, Mauritius and Punta Arenas, Chile. The total distance covered was 24,962 miles (or 40,172 km).
“The new record, which I am presenting to the FAI, for the fastest aerial circumnavigation of the Earth via both geographical poles is now 46 hours 40 mins, achieved by Captain Hamish Harding (UK) and Qatar Executive (Qatar) on 11 July 2019,” says Kris Maynard, official representative of the FAI and the Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom.
In addition, Maynard said Harding and Qatar Executive will be claiming 12 more Speed Over Recognized Course record claims*, including the fastest time ever achieved from the North Pole to South Pole, which took 23 hours and 30 minutes.
Mike Marcotte of GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ presented the team with the record.
“A dream, a team, a machine, a new world record,” said Virts at the celebratory reception that followed the landing. “We could not have done this without the great support of Qatar Executive, Space Florida, Untitled and NASA.
The One More Orbit crew and families celebrated the historic moment in a NASA building near the landing site. In attendance were the eight circumnavigators:
Hamish Harding, (pilot) Chairman, Action Aviation of England, his wife Linda Harding and son Giles Harding.
Jacob Bech, (pilot) and Mathilde Bech, Laura Bech, Mikala Bech of Denmark.
Jeremy Ascough (pilot) and wife Magdalena of South Africa.
Yevgen Vasylenko (pilot) of Ukraine.
Magdalena Starowicz (flight attendant) of Poland.
Benjamin Rueger (lead engineer) of Germany.
Jannicke Mikkelson (Payload Specialist, Satellite live-streaming) of Norway.
Colonel Terry Virts (former Commander of the International Space Station) of the United States.