11 June 1971: Sheila Scott OBE (née Sheila Christine Hopkins) departed Nairobi, Kenya, on her third solo around-the-world flight. On this flight she used a new airplane, a twin-engine Piper Aztec which she named Mythre. It carried United Kingdom registration G-AYTO. She used a NASA satellite data communication system to constantly relay her position to a NIMBUS satellite, and from there to a ground station at Fairbanks, Alaska.
On this flight, Sheila Scott planned to not only fly around the world, but to fly from the Equator, over the North Pole, and back to the Equator again. She flew her Aztec from London, England to Nairobi, Kenya, where she began to Equator–North Pole–Equator portion of the flight.
Scott took off from Nairobi on 11 June 1971 and headed northward to Khartoum, Sudan; Bengazi, Libya; Malta; arriving back at London on 21 June. From there she continued to Bodø, Norway; Andøya, Norway; Station Nord, Greenland; across the North Pole on 28 June; then southward to Barrow, Alaska; arriving at Anchorage, Alaska on 3 July; San Francisco, California to Honolulu, Hawaii on 11 July. She recrossed the Equator heading south to Canton Island. On 23 July, Mythre arrived at Nadi, Viti Levu, Fiji, and then flew on to Noumea, New Caledonia. After a stop at Townsville, Scott arrived at Darwin, Australia, 1 August. From there she continued to Singapore; Madras, India; Karachi, Pakistan; Bahrain; Athens, Greece; and finally completed her journey at London on 4 August. Her flight took 55 days.
Sheila Scott set seven Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Records for Speed Over a Recognized Course: Andøya, Norway, to Station Nord, Greenland, 213.61 kilometers per hour (132.73 miles per hour), (FAI Record File Numbers 4622, 4623); Nord to Barrow, Alaska, 183.73 km/h (114.16 mph), (14203); San Francisco, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii, 236.56 km/h (146.99 mph) (4626, 4627); Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, to London, England, 160.19 km/h (99.54mph) (4624, 4625). Record 4622 is the current record.
The Piper PA-23-250 Aztec D was a six-place twin-engine light airplane based on the earlier PA-23-235 Apache, with a larger cabin and more powerful engines. It was of all-metal construction and had retractable tricycle landing gear. The Aztec D is 30.2 feet (9.205 meters) long with a wingspan of 37 feet (11.278 meters) and overall height of 10.3 feet (3.139 meters). It has an empty weight of 3,042 pounds (1,380 kilograms) and a gross weight of 5,200 pounds (2,359 kilograms).
The Aztec D is powered by two air-cooled, fuel-injected, 541.511-cubic-inch-displacement (8.874 liter) Lycoming IO-540-C4B5 horizontally-opposed 6-cylinder engines. The -C4B5 has a compression ratio of 8.5:1 and is rated at 250 horsepower at 2,575 r.p.m., for takeoff and maximum continuous power. It weighs 374 pounds (170 kilograms). The engines turn two-bladed Hartzell constant-speed propellers through direct drive.
The PA-23-250 has a cruise speed of 206 miles per hour (332 kilometers per hour) at 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) and maximum speed of 216 miles per hour (348 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling was 19,800 feet (6,035 meters). With standard fuel capacity of 144 gallons (545 liters) the airplane’s range was 1,055 miles (1,698 kilometers). Mythre carried an auxiliary fuel tank in the passenger cabin.
After the around-the-world flight, Scott returned Mythre to the Piper Aircraft Company at Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, for overhaul. Following Hurricane Agnes in June 1972, the Piper factory was flooded to a depth of 16 feet (4.9 meters) and Scott’s airplane, along with many others and much of the tooling for aircraft manufacture, was destroyed.
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© 2017, Bryan R. Swopesby