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What Happened on the Longest Flight Ever and Why They Hung in the Air for Days


At first, 64 days on a plane without ever touching the ground might sound unreal. After all, no one would want to stay up in the air for over 2 months. But 2 pilots did just that, and it all started as an advertisement in 1958.

We at Bright Side decided to research more about this world record and we found some facts that you might be interested in too.

The adventure started thanks to a hotel.

Because the Hacienda hotel was far away from all the other resorts, it wasn’t successful — well, not as much as the owners expected — and they were running out of advertisement ideas. However, a slot machine mechanic, Bob Tim, came forward with a unique plan to make the longest flight in history, without ever touching the ground.

The goal was to beat the previous record, which was 50 days. In exchange for $100,000 that Bob got from the owners for the project, he got the hotel’s name plastered on the plane: “Hacienda.”

The copilot seat was removed.

For this historical flight, a Cesena 172 was bought, and Bob Timm and John Cook were the pilots. However, a regular small plane wasn’t able to get the job done so they made some changes. The interior was adjusted by adding a mattress so that the pilots could take turns getting rest in 4-hour intervals.

A sink was added too so that Bob and John could keep themselves clean. The engine was also replaced, and the new one was able to hold more fuel.

They took off on December 4. At first, they flew exclusively over Las Vegas just in case they had to land. But later, they started to fly around the deserts of California and Arizona.

The plane had to match the speed of a pickup truck.

Since they had to stay in the air for more than 50 days without ever landing at all, they had to find a way to refuel. But they didn’t do this with solar panels or air-to-air fueling. They actually flew alongside a pickup truck, matching its speed.

This way, they refueled the plane, and at the same time, they got their meals that were made by the Hacienda hotel chefs. This process took them only 3 minutes, and they did it twice a day.

They almost didn’t beat the record.

Christmas and New Year’s Eve passed without any complications. They had to keep themselves busy and entertained as much as possible. So they had comic books and did small chores and exercises.

But in time, the noise from the engine, isolation, and exhaustion took a toll on John and Bob. In fact, on the thirty-fifth day, the plane nearly crashed after one of them had fallen asleep while flying the plane. Luckily, the autopilot was turned on.

On the thirty-ninth day, the generator failed, and as a result, they didn’t have lights, heat, or autopilot. But they didn’t give up — they were just a few days away from beating the record!

No one has beaten their record yet.

After 11 more days, on day 50, January 23, Hacienda broke the record for the longest and continuous flight ever made in history. But despite the physical and mental challenges they faced, they wanted to make sure that the record would last and managed to break it by 2 more weeks, counting in at 64 days in total.

On February 7, 1959, after 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes, and 150,000 miles, the Hacienda landed. The record still stands to this day.

Would you ever go on an adventure like Bob and John did? Who would you like to be stuck on a plane with for so many days?

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