It is already hard for people to be in a confined space for a few hours, imagine now being for many days and within one-meter-wide and about three meter in length of cabin interior. This is the space where it a plane was piloted to get a world record of flight endurance, specifically a Cessna 172, a very popular and widely produced aircraft to date.
The idea of setting a world record of flight endurance comes from Bob Timm, an employee of the Hacienda Hotel, a hotel in Las Vegas. Tim was a former bomber pilot during World War II and a certified airplane mechanic. Giving suggestions to his boss about publicity, he convinced his boss to fly the 172 with Hotel Hacienda painted on the side of the airplane fuselage attracting attention to the Hotel.
Months before there was an attempt of endurance flight record represented by Bill Burkhart and Jim Heth, they lasted 50 days on flight. They used a Cessna 172 as well. Therefore, the Cessna 172 was very attractive and popular for these kinds of endavours.
The Cessna 172 is currently a utility airplane produced in 1956, considered as one of the most successful aircraft in history, the production amounts to more than 44,000 aircraft and it is still in production. In addition, several Air Forces in world has the Cessna 172 as a training aircraft. In every single airport its pretty common to see a Cessna 172. So, we can see the success of this airplane, those records of flight endurance were performed with this model, just having been rolled out 2 years before. But did they take a normal 172? Well, they had to do some changes.
Continuing with the story. After Timm convinced Bailey the boss to provide funds, he needed to modify a Cessna. Timm bought a Cessna 172 with 1,500 hours of flight time and a registration of N9217B. The Cessna needed to be refitted with a different fuel system and a huge modification to its engine to endure the flight with such required quality. Thus, the engine had modifications on its fuel injection system and fuel tanks were fitted and modified installed on the belly of the airplane as seen in below picture.
Furthermore, the airplane was modified in the cabin to allow the appropriate accommodation of the crew, that consisted in two. It was installed a stainless steel sink to enable the crew to wash up and clean.
The flight of the Cessna 172 Hacienda took off on December 4, 1958, in McCarran Field Las Vegas. Bob Timm and John Cook, an airplane mechanic and pilot too, started the challenge of spending more days in air. To know the credibility of the flight without landing, officials raced in a Ford under the plane in mid-flight. And the fueling was performed by a truck that pumped fuel to the plane in flight. They landed on February 7, 1959, a total of 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes and 5 seconds. Setting the flight endurance record.
The Cessna 172 and N9172B registration is on display at the McCarran International Airport ceiling in Las Vegas. So, it is not a normal 172, it is the 172 Hacienda.
One thought on “The longest flight on a plane”
What was the determining factor to end the flight? Just beat the old record?