New York, NY (August 19, 2008) Pilots Scott Kasprowicz and Steve Sheik succeeded in flying around the world in a helicopter in only 11 days 7 hours and 2 minutes - setting a new world speed record. The pilots broke the current record by almost 6 days with an average speed of 74 knots over the entire 11 days including stops with an average speed of 150 knots over the ground. The record of the flight will be submitted to the National Aeronautic Association for ratification.
The achievement involved Kasporwicz’s factory-standard AgustaWestland Grand helicopter covering 18 countries, 24 time zones, 49 states, 78 fuel stops and almost 21,000 nautical miles in less than 12 days. Other accomplishments on this historic flight include a New York to London speed record, flying that leg of the trip in just over 40 hours and breaking the old record by 35 hours. The aviation duo arrived at New York’s LaGuardia Airport Monday morning bringing to a close their “Grand Adventure” around the world.
“We are so glad to be back home. This has been the trip of a lifetime and is a remarkable achievement for all of us. We had some challenging situations, especially in Russia and the planning and coordination at each control point was key to our success,” said Kasprowicz after landing at LaGuardia Airport. “The support we received from AgustaWestland around the world was unprecedented and their employees went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure every detail was taken care of. We pushed the aircraft to its limit and this trip is a true testament to the Grand’s superior performance.”
Unlike previous flights to break the world helicopter speed record, Kasprowicz performed this mission in his factory-standard executive configured AgustaWestland Grand helicopter. No mission specific modifications or additional fuel tanks were added to improve the aircraft’s performance.
Renzo Lunardi, Senior Vice President Commercial Business of AgustaWestland, speaking after the crew’s arrival back in New York said, "Congratulations to Scott Kasprowicz, Steve Sheik and the support team from everyone at AgustaWestland for setting an outstanding new around-the-world flight record. We have watched with amazement the progress of N1US around the globe and we are delighted that the AgustaWestland Grand performed as well as the crew - averaging around 2,000 miles per day is an incredible feat. I am sure this is a record which will stand for many years."
During their 11-day journey, Kasprowicz, who is also the former Deputy Secretary of Transportation of Virginia, and his co-pilot Steve Sheik traveled eastbound across the Atlantic into Europe via Greenland, traversed western and eastern Europe into Russia, crossed 11 time zones in Russia, returned to North America over the Bering Strait crossing the US and returning to New York City. For details on this historic record-breaking flight, visit their journey at www.grandadventure08.com
In February, Kasprowicz and Sheik broke the speed record for the fastest transcontinental helicopter flight from New York to Los Angeles. The record-breaking flight was achieved in just 15 hours, 9 minutes and 10 seconds with only six fuel stops and covering 2,139.8 nautical miles.
The AgustaWestland Grand offers impressive operational availability and serviceability with the fastest cruise speed and exceptional fuel economy. Its superior features in terms of performance, flexibility and cost effectiveness enable the crew to maximize the time necessary to make the world record setting flight. With its powerful and reliable Pratt & Whitney PW207 turbine engines, the helicopter has exceptional ability to deliver even when faced with challenging environmental conditions. Orders for over 230 helicopters have been placed by more than 100 customers in 30 countries.
AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is the global leader in designing, manufacturing and supporting the world’s most technologically advanced helicopters. With more than 100 years of experience in the aerospace industry, AgustaWestland provides a full range of rotorcraft for every commercial, government and military application, and an unrivalled capability in training and support solutions.