Reston, VA (August 11, 2008) During the attempt to break the around the world speed record in an AgustaWestland Grand helicopter – pilots Scott Kasprowicz and Steve Sheik have set a new speed record on the first leg of their trip from New York City to London. This record setting flight covered 3,449 nautical miles and took the crew 40 hours, 41 minutes breaking the current record by over 35 hours. The record of the flight will be submitted to the National Aeronautical Association for ratification.
“We are thrilled to have broken this record. It’s been an exhilarating and exhausting first few days,” said Kasprowicz after landing at Red Hill, just south of London, early Saturday morning. “We’ve experienced every possible type of weather condition including rain, icing and strong head winds, and through each challenging condition, the helicopter has performed exceptionally. It took a lot of hard work and last minute coordination to make this record happen and we appreciate everyone’s efforts.”
The pilots entered Russia on Sunday, the most challenging portion of their record attempt - dubbed the “Grand Adventure”. They anticipate crossing the continent in 3.5 days and presently are on schedule to enter the United States through Nome, Alaska. They will travel through almost every state before landing back in New York next week.
As of today the crew has completed the first five legs of the trip, which included 28 fuel stops and an overnight inspection at AgustaWestland’s facility in Cascina Costa, Italy.
Unlike previous flights to break the world helicopter speed record, Kasprowicz is performing this mission in his factory standard executive configured AgustaWestland Grand helicopter. No mission specific modifications or additional fuel cells have been added to the aircraft to improve performance.
Renzo Lunardi, Senior Vice President Commercial Business said, “Everyone here at AgustaWestland would like to congratulate Scott and Steve on shattering the New York to London speed record in the factory standard AgustaWestland Grand. We are tracking the great progress being made flying across Russia and look forward to your arrival back in New York and the setting of another world record.”
The helicopter’s progress is constantly monitored in the Control Centre by TracPlus USA using a Latitude S200 Sat phone/ terminal transmitting regular position and status reports over the Iridium global satellite communications network. This allows the control center to know exactly where Scott and Steve are at all times, and share that information instantly with authorities and supporters. For real time tracking and more information about the Grand Adventure, please visit www.grandadventure08.com.
Kasprowicz and Sheik departed from New York LaGuardia Airport for their history-making flight at 3:14 am on August 7, 2008. The journey will cover over 20,046 nm, 18 countries, 49 states and make 78 fuel stops in less than two weeks. The team will also look to break the Washington, D.C. to New York record on the last leg of the world speed record attempt.
The Grand offers impressive operational availability and serviceability with the fastest cruise speed and low fuel consumption. 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.