Longest flight ever in the history of aviation

In 1958 a Cessna 172 took off from Las Vegas to set the world record for longest flight endurance and the record of the flight has not been broken till date.

Robert Timm and John Cook; pilots securing world records took off from McCarran Airfield in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a Cessna 172, registration number N9172B on December 4, 1958 to make their name in the record book.

The aircraft landed back at McCarran Airfield on February 4, 1959, after 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes and 5 seconds of airborne flight.

The flight actually was part of a fund-raising effort supporting the cause of Cancer. The world record flight was operated to help Damon Runyon Cancer Fund.

A car with matching speeds on a straight stretch of road in the desert supplied food and water aboard to the flying aircraft with the use of a rope and bucket.

Similarly, fuel for operating the aircraft was supplied on by hoisting a hose from a fuel truck up to the aircraft, filling an auxiliary belly tank installed for the flight which was pumped into the aircraft’s regular tanks and then belly tank was filled back again. One out of two drivers at the fuel truck steered while the second person matched the speed of the aircraft by accelerating the vehicle.

A tube from the cabin was fitted to pass the engine oil through firewall to the aircraft engine. The aircraft only posed only single pilot seat and remaining space of the aircraft was used for a pad on which second pilot rested while the other was busy operating the flight.

Pilots to receive supplies and fuel to be hoisted aboard in the aircraft replaced the right cabin door with an easy-opening and accordion-type door. The aircraft during the early stage was also hit with an electric generator failure.

A Champion wind-driven generator (turned by a small propeller) then was hoisted aboard, taped to the wing support strut, and plugged into the cigarette lighter socket to serve as the aircraft’s source of electricity source for the remaining course of the flight.

The pilots analyzing the deteriorating engine’s power output had decided to end up the marathon flight after 1,558 hours of continuous flight operating. The engine during the entire course of record-making flight had operated over 1558 plus additional several hundred hours which had already operated engine beforehand (considerably in excess of its normal overhaul interval), the engine’s power output were barely capable to climb away after refueling.

The world record making Cessna 172 aircraft is currently on display in the passenger terminal at McCarran International Airport. Photos and details of the record flight can be seen in a small museum on the upper level of the baggage claim area at the Las Vegas located airport.

After the flight, Cook said:

Next time I feel in the mood to fly endurance, I’m going to lock myself in our garbage can with the vacuum cleaner running. That is until my psychiatrist opens up for business in the morning

Bathing was the most difficult task for the pilots during their entire duration of world record making flight and the total amount of fund collected from the world record making flight to support the cancer cause has not been disclosed.

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