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Two Homebuilts Vie to Break London-Cape Town Record

Steve Noujaim
Steve Noujaim flies his RV-7 in an attempt to break a year-old record flying round trip from London to Cape Town, South Africa. Photo courtesy Sharpshot

Steve Noujaim
Steve Noujaim in his RV-7. Photo courtesy Sharpshot

September 2, 2010 — Seventy years ago Alex Henshaw set a record for flying a Percival Mew Gull racing aircraft from London, England, to Cape Town, South Africa, and back in 4 days, 10 hours, and 6 minutes. In 2009, Charles “Chalkie” Stobbart, a South African Airways pilot, broke Henshaw’s record by flying an Osprey GP 4 from Cape Town to London and back in 3 days, 15 hours, 17 minutes. Suddenly pilots are seemingly lining up to try and break this record: At this writing, Steve Noujaim is en route in an attempt to beat Stobbart’s time and a fourth pilot will have a go next year.

Noujaim left London at 4:38 a.m. on Monday, August 31, in his RV-7 bound for Cape Town. The first leg went smoothly as his blog reported no hitches at his two fuel stops. Noujaim arrived in Cape Town in the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday (September 1) covering the first half of the route in 35 hours, 5 minutes - 70 minutes faster than Stobbart at the halfway point. Steve, a long-haul airline pilot, aerobatic instructor, and warbird enthusiast; is now on the return leg and is due to arrive in London around 9 a.m. local on Friday (September 3). You can track Steve’s flight here.

Next up: ‘The Cape Run’ This Fall
Tony ‘Taff’ Smith, EAA 605659 and owner of Henshaw’s record- breaking Percival Mew Gull, believes the time is right for his own personal attempt at the record. Smith, despite being considerably older than Henshaw when he flew the route, is currently making preparations and modifying his Glasair II RG for the attempt, dubbed “The Cape Run.” Preliminary plans are to fly approximately the same route as Henshaw’s epic flight, but from Southend instead of Gravesend.

Smith plans to make just one scheduled fuel stop - at Abuja, Nigeria - with a 9-hour turnaround in Cape Town. The return trip, again via Abuja, will eventually land him back at Southend just 65 hours after initial take-off. The Cape Run is scheduled to take place in September or October this year.

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