Round The World Record

On June 4th 2004 Simon Oliphant-Hope and the Eastern Atlantic Team commenced an attempt to smash the Around the World ‘World Speed Record’ in a helicopter routing eastbound.

The Record was previously held by an American pilot named Ron Bower who completed the trip in 24˝ days in a Bell Jetranger on July 22nd 1994.
Our objective was to complete the trip in just 19 days in our MD500E helicopter and make the record a British one!
This was actually our second attempt at this record, the first being back in September 2001 when we were well on track to beat the record but were grounded internationally due to the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

The route was carefully planned to optimize the climate and light conditions and to remain within the rules set by the FAI (Federation Aeronautic International) which state the aircraft must remain at a latitude of less than 66° 33’ (outside the north and south frigid zones) and cover a minimum distance of 19,850.83nm (equal in length to the tropic of cancer).
Furthermore, this was a solo attempt, so other than the mandatory Russian Translator through Russia, Simon was the only person on board.

The flight commenced from our base at Shoreham Airport in Sussex and the route took Simon through Northern Germany, onto Visby (Sweden) and then onto St. Petersburg in Russia for the first night stop.
From here Simon spent the next 5 days routing across Russia before arriving on day 7 in Alaska after crossing the Baring Straits.
Onward, the route took shape south east across Alaska, south through Canada and back into US airspace once again in Oregon.
A Further 7 days were spent crossing America before the route took Simon into Canada, tracking north up the east side of the Hudson Bay, and turning east over the icebergs for Greenland.
The final stretch routed across Iceland, south to the Faeroe Islands and then onto to Scotland and England arriving safely back at Shoreham Airport.
The flight was operated by a dedicated ops support team running 24hrs a day and was controlled from the Eastern Atlantic base at Shoreham.

LAST REPORTED........... Position (17:33:27 UTC 21 June 2004)


The record has been officially approved by the FAI. You can view the details of this by clicking the link to the left and searching for helicopter world records.

The times have been re-checked and the record has in fact been set in 17 DAYS, 14 HOURS, 2 MINUTES, and 27 SECONDS. This is truly a remarkable time!!!

There are some new pictures at the bottom of the page with many more to come, please check back to see the latest as the pictures become available.

I would like to thank every single person who played a part in this attempt, that includes every single phone call, every single refueller, people who made sandwiches and gave Simon bottles of water (Ft. Lauderdale got a new razor and shaving foam, in Menominee Lee at Enstrom got Simon some new ear phones). Everyone at Universal Weather in the Large Aircraft Team (especially Roy Lira) and the Met. Team. All at FERAS in Russia. very special thanks to Igor Tsoi. Tim Gilbert from the Helicopter Club of Great Britain. All the support from Ron and Shannon Bower, and of course all the friends and family who supported in every sense of the word this attempt.

Simon was treated to a surprise Friday morning. A fishy story was told to lure Simon into a prearranged lift to the airport, and who should the driver turn out to be... Mr. Ron Bower the current holder of the record. Ron is a Gentleman and true sportsman through and through - Ron drove for 9 hours just to drive Simon to the airport (a 10 minute drive), and wish him well with the remainder of his trip. Pictures on this soon...

Schedule Update: Simon has completed the trip over 24 hours ahead of schedule!

You will see pictures from Austin, this was a special stop as two important people met with Simon - Roy Lira and Shannon Bower. Roy works for Universal Weather and has been assisting with coordinating this attempt since Day 1. Shannon is an experienced helicopter pilot himself and is Ron Bowers son (Ron holds the current record). Shannon gave Simon a fair well gift which Simon didn't spot until the next day. When Shannon bidded fair well to Simon and the helicopter he discreetly attached one of Ron's 'Around the World in 94' stickers to the side. We all fell about laughing when Simon spotted it 7 states later!

Simon had a chance meeting with Jerry Lookis and Dr. Joel Schnieder at Springfield, Illinois. Jerry is an A&P mechanic for Garrett Aviation and worked on N5144Q when it was based there for more than 15 years, Dr. Schnieder was the owner of the helicopter at this time. So it was a great surprise and delight for all.

I would like to thank the following people for sending the pictures below: Sven, Vladimir, Kazan Airport, Vizby Airport, James Poulson/Daily Sitka Sentinel, Mayor Fred Reeder, Mark Brown, MD Helicopters, Shannon Bower, Mark McCormick (picture phone), Enstrom Helicopters, Roy Lira, Shannon Bower, Jerry Lookis, Brandon McEwen (picture phone), Per Bendixon, Michael Mielsen, Ron Bower, and Mez Ryder.

If you would like to send Simon and the team a congratulations message please feel free to send below, this time though the messages can be as long (or as short) as you like. To everyone who has emailed or sent a card so far, thank you - your words meant a lot.
Pictures... (Click on thumbnail for full size)
Simon Pushing out the helicopter - Day 1
Control Panel
Pre-Flight on the St. Petersburg Ramp
Simon and Igor - St. Petersburg
Simon ready to go in Moscow
N5144Q request start...
2nd stop - Visby (Sweden)
Kazan Airport - (Russia)
Mt. Edgecumbe, Sitka, Alaska
Sitka Mayor Greets Simon
Just Landed - Qualicum Beach
Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island
Mayor Teunis Westbroek (Qualicum Beach)
Touchdown - Falcon Field - Mesa, Arizona
At MDHI - Falcon Field, Mesa, Arizona
Looking Sleek !
Arrival at Austin, Texas
Cooling down, Austin
With Roy & Shannon at, Austin
Simon with Roy
Simon ready to go!
Assistance from Enstrom, Menominee
Wishing - Bon Voyage
Civil Air Patrol cadets, Worthington, Minnesota
Thunder Storm - Approx 110nm wide
The alleged sticker !
Vidalia City Marshal Shaun Oliver
N5144Q with Jerry Lookis, Springfield, USA
The mascot taking five at Newport News
View from the tower at Nuuk, Greenland
Nuuk ramp and terminal building
Topping up the oil & refueling at Kulusuk
View from the tower at Kulusuk, Greenland
What low flying aircraft? - Faeroe Islands
Ready to go, Scotland Beckons
Ron & Simon share a few laughs
Ron wishes Simon 'Godspeed'
Victory fly past at Shoreham
Jamie & Simon - 'Welcome Home'
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