Today in Aviation, Friendship One, a United Airlines (UA) Boeing 747-SP (Special Performance), set a new round-the-world record in 1988. The type circled the globe in 36 hours, 54 minutes, and 15 seconds.
The jet (N147UA) had left Seattle’s Boeing Field (BFI) at 7:14 pm local time on January 28. Onboard were numerous journalists, celebrities, including Neil Armstrong, and philanthropists, all looked after by a crew of 18 volunteers.
The Jumbo had been kitted out with enough food and drink for the two-day trip, plus two exercise bikes and 37 foam mattresses.
An Historic Journey
Heading east, the aircraft’s first stop was in Athens, Greece. The Boeing 747 touched down on schedule and, after a short delay for refueling, was soon back on its way. One crew member left behind a check for $10,000 for a Greek charity. Its second stop was in Taipei, Taiwan.
After completing a history lap of the airfield, the jet touched down at Seattle’s Boeing Field (BFI) at 8:45 am local time. One hundred of the 141 passengers onboard donated $5,000 each to raise $500,000 for local children’s charities.
The Friendship Foundation
Horizon Airlines co-founder Joe Clark, UA Pilot Clay Lacy and Aviation Historian Bruce McCaw came up with the idea. They went on to form the Friendship Foundation charity and named the plane “Friendship One.”
UA donated the aircraft, and Boeing and numerous other companies assisted with fuel, operating and maintenance costs.
The 747 had flown 22,997 miles at an average speed of 623.59 mph. Sadly, the record was short-lived. A little less than a month later, it was beaten by a Gulfstream IV, and in 1992, an Air France Concorde beat the record again.
Featured image: The jet was helped along by powerful jet streams over the Atlantic and Pacific giving a ground speed at times of over 700 mph. (Photo: FotoNoir, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)