Tag Archives: World Record for Speed Around the World Eastbound

1–3 May 1976

Pan American World Airways’ Boeing 747SP-21 N533PA, s/n 21025, renamed Clipper New Horizons in 1977, with the “Flight 50” insignia. (CNN.com)

1–3 May 1976: Pan American World Airways’ Boeing 747SP–21 Clipper Liberty Bell, N533PA, departed New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, on a record-setting around the world flight. Under the command of Captain Walter H. Mullikan, the airline’s chief pilot, the flight crew included co-pilots Albert A. Frink, Lyman G. Watt, and flight engineers Frank Cassaniti and Edwards Shields. The airliner carried 98 passengers. The flight set a new speed record for a flight around the world, eastbound, and three speed records for commercial airline routes.

Clipper Liberty Bell flew eastward from New York JFK to Indira Ghandi International Airport (DEL), New Delhi, India, a distance of 8,081 miles (13,005.1 kilometers), at an average speed of 869.63 kilometers per hour (540.363 miles per hour).¹ After servicing the 747, it continued on its journey. The next destination was Tokyo International Airport (HND), Tokyo, Japan. This stage covered 7,539 miles (12,132.8 kilometers). The airliner’s average speed was 421.20 kilometers per hour (261.722 miles per hour).² Striking Pan Am workers at Tokyo delayed preparing the airliner for the next leg of the journey. After refueling, the Pan American flight continued on to its starting point, John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, New York. This final leg was 7,517 miles (12,097.4 kilometers). The average speed was 912.50 kilometers per hour (567.001 miles per hour).³

The total duration of the flight was 46 hours, 1 second. The actual flight time was 39 hours, 25 minutes, 53 seconds. Total distance flown was 23,137 miles (37,235.4 kilometers). The average speed for the entire flight was 809.24 kilometers per hour (502.838 miles per hour).⁴

Clipper Liberty Bell had been christened in a ceremony at Indianapolis on 30 April 1976 by Betty Ford, First Lady of the United States of America.

In 1977, Captain Mullikin flew the same 747SP on another circumnavigation, 29–31 October 1977, but this time it crossed both the North and South Poles. Renamed Clipper New Horizons, 21025 set 7 world records on that flight, with a total flight time of 54 hours, 7 minutes, 12 seconds. This trip was called “Flight 50.”

The Boeing 747SP (“Special Performance”) is a very long range variant of the 747–100 series airliners. The airplane is 48 feet, 5 inches (14.757 meters) shorter than the –100, the vertical fin is 5 feet (1.5 meters) taller and the span of horizontal stabilizer has been  increased. The weight savings allows it to carry more fuel for longer flights, and it is also faster. The maximum number of passengers that could be carried was 400, with a maximum of 45 on the upper deck. Boeing built 45 747SPs.

The 747SP is 184 feet, 9 inches (56.312 meters) long, with a wingspan of 195 feet, 8 inches (59.639 meters). It has an overall height of 65 feet, 1 inch, at maximum gross weight and 65 feet, 10 inches (19.837–20.066 meters), empty. It has an operating empty weight of 337,100 pounds (152,906 kilograms), and a maximum takeoff weight of 700,000 pounds (317,515 kilograms).

Boeing 747SP three-view illustration with dimensions

The 747SP could be ordered with Pratt & Whitney JT9D- or Rolls-Royce RB211-series engines. These engines had a range of thrust of 43,500–51,980 pounds (193.50–231.22 kilonewtons) for takeoff (5-minute limit), and resulted in variations of the airliner’s empty weight and fuel capacity.

The airliner had a design cruising speed (VC) of 0.86 Mach, and a maximum operating speed (VMO/MMO) of 375 knots KEAS, or 0.92 Mach. The service ceiling is 45,100 feet (13,746 meters) and the design range is 5,830 nautical miles (6,709 statute miles/10,797 kilometers). The fuel capacity is 48,780 U.S. gallons (184,652 liters), and it carries 600 gallons (2,271 liters) of water for engine injection.

Boeing 747SP–21 N40135, c/n 21025, 1 January 1975. (747SP.com)

The record-setting Boeing 747SP-21, serial number 21025, was the fourth Special Performance 747 built, and one of 10 that had been ordered by Pan American World Airways. It first flew 8 October 1975, in Boeing’s corporate paint scheme. It was then retained for use in the test fleet. When flight testing was completed, the airliner was refurbished and repainted in the Pan Am livery. It was delivered to the airline 5 March 1976 and registered N533PA.

While in the Pan Am fleet, N533PA also carried the names Clipper New Horizons, Clipper Young America and Clipper San Francisco.

Pan Am Boeing 747SP–21, N533PA, c/n 21025, renamed Clipper Young America, circa 1985.  It still carries the “Flight 50” insignia. (747SP.com)
Compare this standard Boeing 747–121, Pan American’s Clipper Sea Serpent, N655PA, to the 747SP in the photograph above. (Detail from image by Bruno Geiger)

Pan American sold its fleet of Boeing 747SPs to United Airlines in 1986. 21025 was re-registered N143UA to reflect its new ownership. Twenty years after its first flight, 21025 was removed from service in 1995 and placed in storage at Ardmore, Oklahoma. It was scrapped in December 1997. The airliner had accumulated 78,941 total flight hours on its airframe (TTAF) with 10,733 cycles.

United Air Lines’ Boeing 747SP–21 N143UA, c/n 21025. (747SP.com)

¹ FAI Record File Number 5671

² FAI Record File Number 5669

³ FAI Record File Number 1338

⁴ FAI Record File Number 5670

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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19 March–17 April 1964

Geraldine Freditz Mock with her Cesnna 180, N1538C.
Geraldine Fredritz Mock with her Cessna 180, N1538C, at Columbus, Ohio, 19 March 1964. (National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)

19 March–17 April 1964: Geraldine Fredritz (“Jerrie”) Mock landed her 1953 Cessna 180, Spirit of Columbus, N1538C, at Columbus, Ohio, completing a circumnavigation of the Earth she had begun at 9:31 a.m., 19 March 1964. Mock was the first woman to complete a circumnavigation by air. Her journey covered 23,103 miles (36,964 kilometers). The total elapsed time was 29 days, 11 hours, 59 minutes. The flight set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Around the World, Eastbound, of 52.75 kilometers per hour (32.78 miles per hour).¹

Jerrie Mock held twenty-two FAI world records, set between 1964 and 1969.

Jerrie Mock in the cockpit of her Cessna 180.

Cessna 180 serial number 30238 was built by the Cessna Aircraft Company, Inc., Wichita, Kansas, in 1953, and registered N1538C, the first year of production for the model. It was the 238th of 640 Model 180s that were built during the first year of production. 6,193 were built by the time production came to an end in 1986. N1538C was purchased for Jerrie Mock in 1963, with a total of 990 hours on the engine and airframe. The passenger seats were removed and replaced with additional fuel tanks. Additional radios and instruments were installed.

The prototype Cessna 180, N41697. (Ed Coates Collection)

The Cessna Model 180 is an all-metal, four-place, single-engine, high-wing monoplane with fixed landing gear. It is 25 feet, 6 inches (7.772 meters) long with a wingspan of 36 feet, 2 inches (11.024 meters) and height of 7 feet, 6 inches (2.286 meters). If the optional rotating beacon is installed, the height is increased to 7 feet, 9 inches (2.362 meters). The Cessna 180 has an approximate empty weight of 1,525 pounds (692 kilograms), depending on installed equipment, and the maximum gross weight is 2,800 pounds (1,270 kilograms).

Cessna 180 three-view illustration with dimensions. (Cessna)

Spirit of Columbus is powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated 471.239-cubic-inch-displacement (7.722 liter) Continental O-470-A horizontally-opposed six-cylinder overhead valve (OHV) direct-drive engine with a compression ratio of 7:1. This engine is rated at 225 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m., burning 80/87 aviation gasoline, and turns a two-bladed constant speed propellerwith a diameter of 6 feet, 10 inches (2.083 meters).

The airplane has a cruise speed of 162 miles per hour (261 kilometers per hour) at 6,500 feet (1,981 meters), and its maximum speed is 170 miles per hour (274 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level. Its service ceiling is 19,600 feet (5,974 meters). The Cessna 180 has a maximum fuel capacity of 84 gallons (318 liters), giving it an optimum range of 1,215 miles (1,955 kilometers) at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and 121 miles per hour (195 kilometers per hour).

An early production Cessna 180, N2824A. (Cessna)

After her around the world flight, Jerrie Mock never flew Spirit of Columbus again. Cessna exchanged it for a new six-place P206 Super Skylane, N155JM. For many years N1538C was hanging over a production line at the Cessna factory. Today, Mock’s Cessna 180 is on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.

Jerrie Mock with her Cessna P206, N155JM. (FAI)
Jerrie Mock with her Cessna P206, N155JM. (FAI)

On 4 May 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Jerrie Mock with the Federal Aviation Agency Gold Medal for Distinguished Service, and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale awarded her its Louis Blériot Silver Medal.

President Lyndon Johnson bestows the FAA Gold Medal for Distinguished Service on Geraldine Mock, 4 May 1964. (UPI)

Geraldine Lois Fredritz was born 22 November 1925 at Newark, Ohio. She was the first of three daughters of Timothy J. Fredritz, a clerk for a power company, and Blanche M. Wright Fredritz. Jerrie Fredritz graduated from Newark High School in 1943, then studied aeronautical engineering at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. She was a member of the Phi Mu (ΦΜ) sorority.

Miss Fredritz married Russell Charles Mock, 21 March 1945, in Cook County, Illinois. They would have three children, Valerie, Roger and Gary.

Jerrie Mock wrote about her around-the-world flight in Three Eight Charlie, published by Lippincott, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1970.

Geraldine Fredritz Mock died at Qunicy, Florida, Monday, 30 September 2014, at the age of 88 years. She had requested that her ashes be spread over the Gulf of Mexico.

1953 Cessna 180, N1538C, Spirit of Columbus, on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. (National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)
1953 Cessna 180, N1538C, Spirit of Columbus, on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. (National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)

¹ FAI Record File Number 3526

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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