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Long-Distance Lancair: EAAer Sets Unofficial Flight Distance Record

 

Bill Harrelson with his Lancair
Bill Harrelson with his Lancair, prior to departing PGUM bound for Jacksonville, Florida.

N-6ZQ at PGUM
N-6ZQ parked on the ramp at PGUM.

Guam to Jacksonville
FlightAware's flight track of Bill Harrelson's 7,049-nautical mile flight from Guam to Jacksonville.

March 5, 2013 - It's been quite a long week for Bill Harrelson, EAA 257277, of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Long-distance, that is.

On February 24, he flew nonstop in his modified Lancair IV (N-6ZQ) from Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana, to Honolulu, Hawaii, a 22.5-hour flight of about 4,000 nautical miles. On February 26, he flew from Honolulu to Guam - 17.6 hours, 3,000 nm. Then on March 1 (February 28 on this side of the international date line) he set an unofficial record for a nonstop flight - from Guam to Jacksonville, Florida - totaling 38 hours, 29 minutes aloft over a distance of 7,051 nm!

When verified, that will shatter the 26-year-old world record for distance flown in a Class C-1d airplane weighing between 1,500 and 3,000 kilograms. The previous record was set in 1987 by Australian Peter Wilkins, who flew 6,890.2 nm nonstop in a Piper PA-46 Malibu Mirage from Sydney, Australia, to Phoenix, Arizona.

EAA spoke with Bill Monday as he was preparing to send the verifying data to the National Aeronautic Association. When confirmed, NAA will forward that info to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) for world record verification.

"They told me I needed to fly 40 hours, so I thought I would do it all at once," joked Harrelson, who is also an airline pilot. His aircraft, which he spent eight years building "from the ground up with these kinds of flights in mind," is specially outfitted for the extra fuel required. He departed Guam with 361 gallons of fuel and landed with 6 gallons in Jacksonville.

That was far less fuel than anticipated - the result of being about four hours behind schedule due to stronger-than-forecasted headwinds and weaker-than-expected tailwinds. "I don't recall a winter flight across the U.S. where there was little or no tailwind," he said.

Key to N-6ZQ's marathon flight capabilities is a 13-gallon header tank, which feeds the custom Barrett IO-550 engine. The header tank is fed by other tanks in the wing and additional auxiliary tanks as fuel is pumped to the header by three transfer pumps, each on its own electrical system.

All that fuel gave N-6ZQ a takeoff weight of 4,449 pounds. Average fuel burn worked out to a little more than 9 gallons per hour, ranging from 11 gph at his heaviest to 8 gph at lighter weights.

Harrelson plans to attend AirVenture Oshkosh this summer to let the aviation world see his record-setting Lancair IV.

Flight Facts

  • Engine: Barrett IO-550 non-turbo, 10:1 pistons, oversized oil sump, GAMI injectors, mags
  • The Lancair IV falls into Class C-1d in the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale classification system (landplane, internal combustion powered, 1,500 to 3,000 kilograms).
  • Official takeoff weight: 4,449 pounds (2017.6 kilograms)
  • Total fuel on board at engine start: 361 gallons
  • Total fuel on board at engine shutdown: 6 gallons
  • Fuel burned: 355 gallons
  • Oil quantity on engine start: 14 quarts
  • Oil added: None
  • Oil quantity on landing back home in Virginia: 14 quarts
  • Total oil consumption: None (Thank you, Allen Barrett & crew!)
  • Great Circle distance between PGUM and KJAX - 13,059 kilometers, 7,051 nm, 8,114 statute miles
  • Time aloft: 38 hours, 29 minutes
  • Average fuel consumption: 9.2 gph. Cruise ranged from 11 gph heavy to 8 gph light.
  • Average ground speed: 183 knots
  • Average cruise TAS: 180 knots

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