A Gulfstream G650ER aircraft has broken the world circumnavigation speed record for any aircraft flying pole to pole, in a mission celebrating the Apollo II moon landing .
The flight, which was manned by NASA astronaut Terry Virts and Action Aviation Chairman Hamish Harding, alongside a Qatar Executive flight crew, finished with a record time of 46 hours, 39 minutes and 38 seconds.
“Our mission, titled One More Orbit, pays homage to the Apollo 11 moon landing achievement, by highlighting how humans push the boundaries of aeronautics,” said Action Aviation Chairman Hamish Harding.
“We did this during the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Apollo 11 moon landing; it is our way of paying tribute to the past, the present, and the future of space exploration. The mission has utilised the skills of hundreds of talented technicians across the planet and is testament to what can be achieved when we all pull together.”
The journey, which set off from NASA base Cape Canaveral in Florida on Tuesday 9 July at 9.32am, was split into four segments, with a refuelling pit stop in each location.
From Cape Canaveral, the team first flew to Astana, Kazakhstan, then on to Mauritius and finally to Chile before arriving back in Florida on Thursday 11 July, beating the previous world record by almost 6 hours.
Present at the landing was Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker, who said: “Qatar Executive, together with the One More Orbit team, has made history. A mission like this takes a huge amount of planning as we need to factor in the flight paths, fuel stops, potential weather conditions and make plans for all possibilities. Many people behind the scenes worked tirelessly to ensure this mission was a success and I am very proud that we broke the world record – a first for Qatar Executive – which will be certified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and Guinness World Records.