PHILADELPHIA -- Two pilots setting aviation records on a global excursion in a single-engine plane packed gear Friday for the next leg of their journey -- a round-trip flight from an Antarctic base to the South Pole.
'Everybody's in excellent health. The crew is doing well, the aircraft is doing well,' said Frank Caputo, a Philadelphia member of a worldwide team that is monitoring the flight of the 'Arctic Tern.'
Richard Norton, 48, a Californian living in Philadelphia, and Calin Rosetti, 56, a West German citizen living in Paris, were to depart Friday night from an Argentine base in the Antarctic called Marambio on a 1,546-mile trek to the South Pole and back. The trip is expected to take 16 hours.
The trip is billed as the first around-the-globe journey including both the North Pole and South Pole in a single-engine plane of its size. The aircraft is not traveling on a direct path around the world but making several stops and side trips, setting speed records for individual trips in the meantime.
Norton, a commercial pilot for USAir and an official of the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, and Rosetti, an aeronautical engineer and head of the Satellite Navigation System for the European Space Agency, landed in the Antarctic Monday only to discover that a reserve supply of fuel was the wrong type.
They spent the next two days ferrying 195 gallons of aviation gas between Rio Grande, Argentina, and the Antarctic base. By Friday they were eager to begin the next leg of their trek in their red-and-white Piper Malibu.
Norton and Rosetti already have set an unofficial speed record for a trans-Atlantic flight from Farmingdale, N.Y., to Paris in a single-engine, six-seater propeller plane.
'Each leg of the flight is a record because it's never been done in a single-engine piston airplane,' Caputo said.
The pilots left the United States Jan. 19 and were scheduled to end their journey Feb. 12 in Doylestown, Pa.
Allan Gott, director of the flight's operations, said from Antarctica, the voyagers will fly to Argentina, Chile, Easter Island, Tahiti, Honolulu, Alaska, Norway, the North Pole and Le Bourget, France.
The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, a non-profit corporation that works with brain-injured children, is sponsoring the 33,398-mile around-the-world flight.