British pilots set to break world record to spotlight GA’s business contribution
UK pilots Mike Roberts and Nicholas Rogers are awaiting confirmation of their World Record-breaking flight to 16 countries in 24 hours, made to highlight the contribution of general aviation airfields to British business and leisure.
Flying school owner Mike Roberts (left) and airline captain Nicholas Rogers piloted a Piper Malibu light aircraft, registered G-TFAM, to 16 countries in 24 hours on Tuesday, 25th June in a bid to claim a new World Record. The intrepid duo is awaiting verification from the Guinness World Record Organisation that their flight topped the current World Record of 11 countries visited by a fixed wing aircraft in 24 hours. That record was set by James van der Hoorn and Iain Macleod in 2010.
Roberts, who owns the Take Flight aviation school and flying club, based at Wellesbourne Airfield, Warwickshire, had strong motivation for making the gruelling flight. Not only did his quest fulfil a personal ambition, it helped to highlight the campaign to Save Wellesbourne Airfield. The airfield has been under the threat of closure from its landlords since 2015, despite the local authority’s attempts to purchase it and retain its current use.
‘Hybrid and electric models’
“We are passionate in our belief that preserving our local airports is vital for Great Britain plc.; for the training of future pilots and also for the inevitable role they will be able to play in supporting the next generation of aircraft – including these hybrid and electric models – that don’t require the infrastructure and cost of big airports,” explained Roberts.
Visiting 16 countries in 24 hours showed how accessible Europe can be served by general aviation aircraft – for business and leisure – and spotlighted the high standards many general aviation airfields offer, he added. “We landed at everything from international airports, such as Maastricht, to rough grass strips in Italy,” Rogers told Corporate Jet Investor.
The record-breaking aircraft was a 2008-built Piper Malibu and achieved an average cruise speed of 190mph. The flight began with a night departure from Denmark’s Roskilde Airport near Copenhagen at 3.30am (local time). As the sun rose, the aircraft touched down in Sweden, before visiting the remaining 14 countries, listed in the box below.
Began with a night departure
The Malibu’s co-pilot Rogers, whose day job sees him take the left seat of a Birmingham-based B737, explained: “We chose to contact several airports in each country, so we could build an optimum route based on who could accommodate us and what facilities were available in terms of runway surface and length, fuel, customs and operational hours and were pleased to receive a positive and friendly response from everyone.”
The flight plan allowed 24 hours to complete the flight of over 1,700 miles. More than half the time was spent airborne, with a further eight to 12 hours on the ground for refuelling, airport handling, customs and rest breaks.
No strangers to world record-breaking, the pair currently hold the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of airfields visited in 24 hours. This was achieved after they landed at 87 UK airfields in a Cessna C172 in 2017.
Stratford District Council is carrying out a compulsory purchase of the airfield to maintain its aviation use. Some of the remaining tenants are taking action in the Court of Appeal to try to maintain their tenancies and to overturn a previous ruling, which went against them. More information about the challenge and the fight to Save Wellesbourne Airfield can be found at www.SaveWellesbourneAirfield.com
Meanwhile, Roberts will be a speaker at the Emerald Media/Bluesky SETops and Light Airfields Conference Conference at the Royal Aeronautical Society on 3rd October.
Record breaker: 16 countries visited in 24 hours
4. the Czech Republic