Most Memorable Flights of 2001

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Early every year the National Aeronautic Association recognizes some of the most memorable flights of the previous year, and 2001 had a number of unusual and exceptional flights to note. Interestingly, two of the flights that made the list for 2001 were made by aircraft without a pilot onboard. The solar-powered AeroVironment Pathfinder I, or Helios, set an altitude record last summer when it flew to 96,863 feet over Hawaii. At 247 feet, Helios's wingspan is nearly 10 times that of a conventional light plane. Driven by 14 propellers powered by the energy derived from the sun by a vast array of solar panels, Helios is a technology demonstrator for the kind of airplane that could someday make the first powered flight on Mars.

Another remotely piloted aircraft made the list, the jet-powered Northrop Grumman Global Hawk, which flew nonstop across the Pacific, a total of 8,214 miles, in slightly less than a day.

Though ultimately unsuccessful, Steve Fossett's attempt to fly solo nonstop around the world in a balloon also made the list. Though the circumnavigation was foiled by adverse weather and light winds, Fossett set a record for time aloft, 300 hours and 57 minutes.

Dick Keyt was recognized for his record breaking speed run in his one-off Polen Special II single-seater. Keyt made the 500 km round trip from Oshkosh to Monticello, Iowa, and back in 70 minutes, for an average speed of 303 mph. Not bad for 200 horses.

Hang glider Davis Straub once again made the list, for his July distance record setting flight in an A-1-Ratos glider. During Straub's 10-hour flight, he averaged 40 mph and covered 407 miles.

Finally, the duo of Parker Johnstone and James Murphy was honored for their two-day, 96-airport journey during which the pair landed a Bonanza A-36 at every hard surface airport in the state of Oregon. The flight raised $10,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the American Diabetes Association.