Spirit of Texas

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Spirit of Texas
Spirit of Texas SI.JPG
Spirit of Texas
Type Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II
Manufacturer Bell Helicopter
Registration N3911Z
First flight 1982
Total distance 26,000 miles
Preserved at National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

The Spirit of Texas, a Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II, is the first helicopter to complete a round-the world flight.


A standard business class Bell 206L-1 LongRanger was modified for the round-the-world trip. Modifications took 3 weeks. An extra 151 gallon fuel tank was added, along with a Loral radar, a modified heater/defroster, pop out floats, special safety, communication, and navigation equipment.

Ross Perot, Jr. and Jay Coburn used the Spirit of Texas to complete the first round-the-world flight by helicopter.[1] An Australian, Dick Smith, had started an uncompleted round the world solo attempt in a JetRanger on August 6, 1982 from Dallas, Texas. Determined to accomplish the task earlier, Perot and Coburn set out on an aggressive timetable with better funding. In a single day, a LongRanger was ordered and delivered at a cost of $725,000 (1982). Fellow pilot Coburn had extensive helicopter experience in Vietnam, and had participated in the rescue of 2 EDS employees from a jail in Iran as depicted by Ken Follet's non-fiction novel On Wings of Eagles.

The helicopter departed Dallas, Texas, on September 1, 1982, and returned to the same point 29 days, 3 hours, and 8 minutes later. The flight path consisted of 26,000 miles crossing 26 different countries. 56,000 pounds of fuel were burned, with 56 stops for refueling.

One stop was on an American President Lines container ship SS President McKinley in the North Pacific because the Soviet Union would not authorize refueling stops. Perot's father, Ross Perot Sr., arranged the ship while the flight was underway, with only two weeks notice.[2] The container ship landing was in 15 foot seas, with 40 knot winds.[3]

The flight consisted of 246.5 hours of flight time at an average ground speed of 117 mph. It set a FAI world record for round the world flight time in a helicopter, averaging 35.4 mph.[4] Fog necessitated flying as low as 10 feet to follow roads. There were two incidents in India and Burma of being cited for unauthorized landings. There were no major mechanical problems in flight.[5]

On November 15, 1982, the Spirit of Texas was flown to Andrews Air Force Base, and donated to the National Air and Space Museum.[6]


An 11-man crew in a C-130 Hercules flew ahead of the aircraft for ground support and fueling.

The route included stops in some of the following locations.[7]


  1. ^ "Round The World Flight". Earthrounders.com. Archived from the original on 2008-06-24. Retrieved October 28, 2010. 
  2. ^ Sharon Watson (October 18, 1982). "With a Little Help from Dad, a Texas Heir Circumnavigates the Globe by Helicopter". People. 
  3. ^ Ross Perot Jr. (July 1983). "Around the World by Helicopter". Popular Mechanics. 
  4. ^ Guinness book of aircraft: records facts and feats. 1988. 
  5. ^ "Bell 206L-1 Longranger II Spirit of Texas". Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  6. ^ National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Aircraft of the National Air and Space Museum. 
  7. ^ "around the world by helicopter". Popular Mechanics. July 1983. 
  8. ^ Carroll V. Glines. Round-the-world flights. 

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