Pandemic Aviation Records

By Scott Spangler on April 4th, 2022

The pandemic has reordered the routines of life in many ways, and that includes the almost annual National Aeronautic Association announcement of the previous year’s aviation records. But Covid-19 restrictions waylaid the submission of aviation records to be certified by the NAA and forwarded to the Fédération Aéronautique International for their global ratification. Consequently, NAA’s Contest and Records did not review certified records for 2019, 2020, or 2021. But it has now, and it announced the most memorable aviation records for this span of pandemic history.

The announcement of these 11 memorable records is but another measurement of Covid consequence. Presenting them chronologically, there were six in 2019 and five in 2021. As it may be for many in the world, for aviation record hopefuls 2020 is a year that didn’t’ exist (and let us all hope we never have another one like it). These new record holders will be honored at the NAA Aviation Record Celebration at the Lockheed Martin Fighter Demonstration Center on April 28, 2022.

Another eternal question is what defines a “memorable” record? I haven’t found NAA’s definition, but the dictionary says “memorable” is something “worth remembering,” and for the people who pursued them, these records are certainly that, just as it is for the people who set the records the current flights eclipsed. But a subjective definition of “memorable” is illuminated with some degree of gee-whiz or wow!

Reading through the 11 Most Memorable Aviation Records of 2019-2021, few of them inspired a wow from me. Dierk Reuter and Phillips Bozek’s 2019 nonstop flight in a Daher TBM 700 from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York, to Le Bourget in Paris was interesting. Not because they covered 3,600 miles in 8:35, but because the surpassed the record set by Chuck Yeager and Renald Davenport in 1985.

Kim Magee’s 2019 hot air balloon flight gets my wow! And a GEE_WHIZ!! Lifting off from a school parking lot in Mitchell, South Dakota, she climbed to 15,000 feet, where strong winds carried her for nearly six hours, across Sioux City, Iowa, past Des Moines, for “a landing along the Fox River just north of the Missouri River,” setting a 363.3 distance record.

My other wow goes to John Ellias, who hand-launched his remote-controlled glider at an abandoned airfield in Pioche, Nevada, jumped in the back of an open air 4×4 Jeep, and flew northbound along US Highway 93 towards his straight-line goal of a field near Wells, Nevada, 214.93 miles away. He also earns a gee-whiz honor, not because the record flight took 7 hours and uncounted thermals, but because he surpassed the 187-mile straight-line record he set in 2016.

And here’s another question for you. Of this group of memorable aviation records, which ones would earn your gee-whiz and wow awards?

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One Response to “Pandemic Aviation Records”

  1. Pandemic Aviation Records - Says:

    Don Edgell

    Aviation records were a casualty of the pandemic, but the NAA announced 11 records for 2019-2021, including a WOW hot air balloon adventure.

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