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Polar First helicopter fliers land in Buenos Aires

Tuesday, January 30th 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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Bell Helicopter 407 flying over Antartica Bell Helicopter 407 flying over Antartica

The Polar First helicopter pilots, Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill arrived on Sunday at the Don Torcuato airfield, north of Buenos Aires. They will stay in Argentina's capital until February 13, while the Bell helicopter is serviced.

The two flyers are record-breaking helicopter pilots. Murray and Bodill reached the South Pole at 5am on Sunday, January 7, and marked a significant milestone in their attempt to set a new world record for flying around the world via the South and North Poles in a Bell Helicopter 407. This is the pilots' second attempt to set this record. Their first attempt in 2003 ended in near disaster when on December 20, 58 days into their journey and two days after reaching the South Pole, they crashed in whiteout conditions on the Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Both pilots sustained serious injuries. Many might have called it a day after such an experience but Murray, 66, and Bodill, 55, were determined to re-attempt the challenge. When reaching the South Pole Jennifer said via satellite phone, "It's a terrific feeling to have made it to the South Pole. Bad weather conditions have hampered our progress along the way but we had a clear weather window when leaving Fowler and flying the 1200 miles to the Pole in one go has put us very much back on schedule". "With memories of our last time in Antarctica being overshadowed by the crash, it's been great to come back and lay a few ghosts to rest. Obviously the next milestone is to get out of Antarctica and back across the Drake Passage safely. I'll certainly be feeling relieved once we're back in Ushuaia, but there'll be no time for celebration as we're only half way through and have to push on northward to the North Pole. Having got this far, morale is high â€" although we're obviously feeling tired â€" but we know we've got a long way to go yet and a lot more challenges ahead of us. Our Bell 407 is performing well and we have great confidence every time we start it up and fly away" added Jennifer. The pilots have completed just over 9,000 nautical miles of their journey and have made 33 scheduled landings. They have over 26,000 nautical miles to go and 94 more scheduled landings to make. They started the attempt on December 5, 2006, taking off from Fort Worth, Dallas, US. Murray learnt to fly helicopters at the age of 54. Both she and Bodill are also working in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) with IBG, to give a core group of 30 schools along the route and children worldwide the opportunity to take part in a global environmental, online project. The pilots have visited many of the schools taking part in the project during their trip south, and will be visiting more as they fly north. Murray has written a book, Broken Journey, about her 2003 record attempt. She is US born and UK educated and entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1997 as the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a helicopter, raising money for Save the Children. In 2000, Murray achieved another world first: flying her helicopter solo around the world. In 2001 Bodill and Murray flew the London to Sydney Air Race, setting a new world speed record. Microlight flier and helicopter pilot Bodill has been challenging the elements since 1975. Having won the UK championships several times, he became World Champion in 1995. In 1998, he set a world speed record from London to Sydney. In 2000, he became the first person to circumnavigate the globe solo in a weight-shift microlight. Buenos Aires Herald

Categories: Antarctica, Argentina.

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