18 Jun 2024

New FAI helicopter 'Speed Around the World Through Antipodes' record attempt underway

Brazilian helicopter pilot Andre de Freitas and his British co-pilot Peter Wilson have set off today, 18 June 2024, to attempt a new record. Over the next 100 days, they will visit 35 countries over four continents in the hopes of gaining the antipodal record conducted under FAI Sporting Code, Section 9 – Rotorcraft, 5.3.8: ‘Speed Around the World Through Antipodes’.

The pair set off from an airport in Jaguaruna, Brazil,  which bears the name of Andre’s grandfather: Diomício Freitas/Forquilhinha Airport. The Robinson R66 Turbine helicopter will then travel north along the Eastern coast of the Americas to Greenland and Iceland, and across Europe to Antipode 1: Bichura, Russia. Remaining in the northern hemisphere to cross the Bering Sea, they will then travel south down the western coast of the United States, through Mexico and South America to reach Antipode 2: El Calafate in Argentina. The trip will be completed as they arrive back in Jaguaruna, Brazil.

Map showing the record attempt route for 2024 and Wilson's previous circumnavigation flight in 2017, which took 121 days.

The attempt will be co-ordinated by the both the Brazil and UK National Airsport Control bodies (NACs) to ensure conditions are met to reach an FAI record. The sporting code relating to the attempt states that landing points must be declared in advance, and only changed with at least 48 hours notice. Any time spent on the ground is also counted as flight time. Andre de Freitas must remain as pilot-in-command throughout the attempt, as the rules state clearly that crew cannot change during the attempt.

Crucially, the route for the course must not be less than 40,075.16 kilometres (the circumference of the equator). In fact the route has been calculated at 31,000 nautical miles, 57,412 kilometres.

Andre de Freitas has 810 flight hours in a rotary aircraft, and 100 hours in a fixed wing. Peter Wilson is a highly experienced pilot with 2128 hours in a rotorcraft, including 542 hours instructing. He is a current FAI record holder for speed over a recognised course and also made an FAI record solo helicopter flight around Africa and a first helicopter flight around South America. Both stand as current records. Wilson also completed the first antipodal circumnavigation by helicopter in 2017, with landings in Indonesia and Colombia. 

Follow the route

Image credits: Three Journeys Round via Facebook