A Cessna 172 created a world record for flight endurance. This record still stands intact.
On December 4, 1958, two pilots, Robert Timm and John Cook flew a used Cessna (Registration number- N9172B) for more than two months. They achieved this feat without landing. They even refueled the carrier by matching speed with a truck driving down a road.
The carrier took off from McCarran Airfield in Las Vegas, Nevada and landed back at the same strip on February 4, 1959, after a flight of 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes and 5 seconds.
The flight was a part of a fund-raising effort for the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund. The operation needed them to distribute food and water. They transferred the supplies by matching speeds with a chase car on a straight stretch of a road in a desert while hoisting the supplies was done using a rope and bucket.
Fuel was pumped in by hoisting a hose from a fuel truck to the aircraft, filling an auxilliary belly tank installed for the flight, injecting that fuel into the aircraft’s regular tanks and then filling the belly tank again. The pilots steered while a second person matched speeds with the aircraft with his foot on the vehicle’s accelerator pedal! The engine oil was added from a tube in the cabin that was fitted to pass through the firewall.
It was only the pilot’s seat that was installed. The rest of the space was used by the relief pilot as a sleeping pad. The right cabin door was replaced by an accordion-type door which could open easily so as to allow supplies and fuel to be hoisted aboard.
Soon after the flight took off, the engine-driven electric generator had failed. A Champion wind-driven generator (turned by a small propeller) was elevated on the carrier, taped to the wing support strut and plugged into the cigarette lighter socket. That served as the source of electricity for the rest of the flight.
After 1,558 hours of continuous flight, the pilots decided to end the marathon because of the accelerated deterioration of the engine’s power output. It had almost come to the point that they were barely able to climb away after refuelling!
The aircraft is currently on display in the passenger terminal at McCarran International Airport. Photos and details of the record flight can be seen in a small museum on the upper level of the baggage claim area.
After the flight, Cook said, “Next time I feel in the mood to fly endurance, I'm going to lock myself in our garbage can with the vacuum cleaner running. That is, until my psychiatrist opens up for business in the morning.”
Information source: wikipedia
Title image: airplane-pictures