Tag Archives: Longest Flight

Dancing With Clouds – The Longest Flight, Part Two

Robert Ragozzino was not the first to attempt the longest flight.

In 1923, a race took place to determine who could complete an around-the-globe flight the fastest.  The U.S. Army commissioned Douglas Aircraft to build five aircraft to circumnavigate the globe.  Four of the “World Cruisers,” as they were coined, left westbound from Seattle in April 1924 to accomplish the feat.  After 175 days, two of the four proudly returned to the United States.  These were not solo flights and no further attempts were made to complete the trip in an open cockpit biplane at that time.  In 1990, a Dallas ex-military pilot attempted to make the longest flight in a home-built biplane.  He abandoned the trip after running into permit and planning problems in Russia.  1991 saw an attempt by pilot Carl Hayes and a Russian pilot in a modified 300 horsepower Stearman.  The flight lasted from San Diego to the Colorado Rockies, where unknown complications forced a landing on Interstate 70, ending the attempt.  One attempt made it half the distance.

In September 1993, a 45-year-old businessman from Canada quietly departed eastbound from Vancouver in a 275 horsepower Waco biplane.  Frank Quigg made his way halfway around-the-globe to Bombay, India, in just 15 days.  While there, he contracted hepatitis and was forced to abandon the attempt for the longest flight.  His plane was shipped home in a container.  However, because of his experience, he became a part of the Stearman World Flight organization as a logistics adviser and was a major asset in the successful completion by Roger Ragozzino.

Longest Flight

The building of a “World Cruiser” biplane.

The 1942 Boeing Stearman N2S-3 began life on November 22, 1942, as a B75-N1 civilian aircraft.  Originally built as a two-seat forward and aft aircraft that was in service as an around-town trainer, Robert began alterations in 1993 for the longest flight.  Teaming with Sam Birchett of Associated Aero at Wiley Post Airport, the seven-year task to convert the trainer into a globe-circling aircraft began.  The plane was rebuilt from the bottom of the landing gear to the top of the wings with great care and attention to detail.  One of the two seats was removed, fuel capacity increased from 55 gallons to 347 gallons, including a 150 gallon belly tank, and up-to-date instrumentation added.  When it came to the business end of the aircraft, Robert stated, “I had chosen a Covington overhaul because I wanted the best engine I could get.”  He further added, “I toured the Covington overhaul facility and was very impressed. The engine performed flawlessly and gave me the confidence to fly the seven seas.”

Trusted when all the chips are in the pot.

Robert Ragozzino knew a quality shop when he saw one.  That is why he trusted Covington Aircraft with the overhaul of the engine that had to be the best it could be.  Whether traveling across an ocean or a state, engine trouble can make any flight the longest flight of your life.    If it’s time for an aircraft engine overhaul or routine maintenance, call us at Covington Aircraft.  We maintain, overhaul, and sell turbine and radial engines. Call us at 918-756-8320.

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Dancing With Clouds – The Longest Flight, Part One

A crowd of 500 stood near the Whiley Post Airport Terminal.

On the cold, crisp, clear day of November 17, 2000, 500 pairs of eyes scanned the horizon and a thousand ears strained to hear the sound of the approach of a very special aircraft.  At 3:00 p.m., their wait was rewarded with the drone of the sound of a radial engine that announced the return of the Stearman N2S-3 that was to complete the historical longest flight that had begun at this very location 176 days earlier.  Robert Ragozzino had completed his record-setting, solo, around-the-globe flight in the 1942 Stearman. Robert flew 24,645 miles at an average ground speed of 111 miles-per-hour in his plane powered by a Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr., 450 horsepower, 985 cubic inch, supercharged, nine cylinder radial engine after an aircraft engine overhaul by Covington Aircraft.

Longest Flight

The flight was not without interruptions.

In fact, his first 115 mile hop was to Tulsa, Okla., where the tachometer was replaced.  The next leg of the journey was 410 miles to Mt. Vernon, Ill., where the tachometer drive was replaced.  Along this longest flight, the radio required maintenance, the oil cooler had a leak repaired and the starter was replaced.  Further delays included weather-related and nine weeks of delay  occurred while obtaining Russian permits.

A brief history of the longest flight.

Robert made 54 hops in his around-the-world flight.  His flight took him from Oklahoma City east to New York City, where he made a publicity stop.  From there, his path went north over Maine and into Canada.  His last stop in North America was at Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada.  His first oceanic traverse was from Goose Bay to Greenland at a distance of 776 miles in 6.75 hours and took place without incidence.  Iceland was made after an 833 mile hop in 7.3 hours.  After two stops in Iceland, the crossing of the Atlantic portion was done with a landing in Wick, Scotland.  From there, his route turned south to Italy, where it turned again in an easterly direction.  From Italy, he flew to Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Taiwan and Okinawa before turning northward.  Following the Japanese Islands, he flew a northeast course to Kushiro, Japan, before attempting his longest over-water jump.  The longest jump in the longest flight was from Kushiro, Japan, to a landing at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Kamchatka, Russia—a distance of 954 miles in 8.5 hours.  This stop was unscheduled, a declared emergency, and he stayed in Petropavlovsk for 29 days.  From there, Robert returned to the United States with a stop at Shemya, Alaska, after a 655 mile, 6 hour flight over the northern Pacific.  From there, he made his way south and east to Oklahoma City in 176 days.  His average hop was 221.4 miles.

It was a good thing he had a Covington logo affixed on the engine casing.

The longest flight for you may not be across a part of the Pacific Ocean; it may be on a short hop when you develop engine trouble.  Trouble can arise at any time, but routine maintenance and inspection by a top quality shop will minimize this risk.  If it’s time for an aircraft engine overhaul, reach out to Covington Aircraft.  We maintain, overhaul, and sell turbine and radial engines.  Call us at (918) 756-8320.

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