Pictures: Helicopter pilots to depart today on 55,000km polar pursuit in Bell 407

Washington DC
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Two pilots plan to depart Fort Worth, Texas, today on their second attempt to circumnavigate the globe from pole to pole in a helicopter.

The first try, in 2003, ended in disaster when the pair’s Bell 407 impacted snow on Antarctica’s Ronne ice shelf.

Guinness Book record holders, Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill, are set to depart Alliance Airport at 11:00 on Tuesday, heading south for the 169-day trip, covering 55,000km (29,600nm), 34 countries and both poles. Murray and Bodill plan to fly over South America and Antarctic, before turning around and flying north over the Americas toward the North Pole, after which they will fly over Russia, Europe, Greenland, Canada, and back to Alliance Airport in May.


Bell, a sponsor of the project, along with its parent company, Textron, will provide support globally through its network of customer service representatives, customer service facilities and dealers. A key aspect of mission will be educational outreach, an effort made in partnership with the UK's Royal Geographical Society.

Bodill, in 2000, was the first person to circle the globe solo in a weight-shift ultralight. Murray achieved a Guinness Book record in 1997 as the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a helicopter. Progress of the mission is available on the Polar First website.