People like to do cool stuff and keep records of said stuff. It's a very human thing to be competitive, or at least strive to break the perceived limitations of what is known. That's why Guinness World Records exists: what's the point of being amazing at something if you're not officially amazing?
Just Plane Amazing
The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) is the oldest national aviation organization in the US. The NAA is also the -caretaker of many of the nation's and the world's most prestigious aviation awards.- They present more than a dozen awards throughout each year to honor contributions to the "art, sport, and science of aviation and space flight to the United States."
At the end of each year, under the direction of the NAA Contest and Records Department, records certified that year are reviewed and a list is compiled of the "most memorable" aviation records. On May 4, 2016, the NAA officially released their list of most memorable aviation records of 2015.
Notable Records of 2015:
Record for Airplanes
Speed Around the World, Over Both the Earth's Poles: 43.68 mph
Class C-1.d, Group I-piston airplanes weighing 3,858 < 6,614 pounds
William Harrelson took off from Kinston, North Carolina, in his Lancair IV and flew to Montevideo, Uruguay; Punta, Arenas, Chile; the South Pole; Hamilton, New Zealand; Fairbanks, Alaska; and the North Pole. Harrelson returned to Kinston 21 January 2015, beating the previous record of 8.72 mph set in 1987.
Speed Over a Recognized Course, Beijing, China, to Savannah, Georgia: 609.52 mph
Class C-1.m, Group III-jet engine airplanes weighing 99,208 < 132,277
Michael Jarret, Raymond Wellington, and Scott Curtis departed Beijing Capital Airport on 6 February in a Gulfstream G650ER; they flew nonstop to Hilton Head International Airport, covering 7,334 miles in 12 hours and 2 minutes, establishing the first record along the route.
Altitude with 120,000 Kilogram Payload: 37,290 feet
Class C-1.t, Group III-jet engine airplanes weighing 661,386 < 881,849 pounds
Major Jonathan Flowers, USAF, and his 7 fellow crew members flew a Lockheed Martin C-5M to over 37,000 feet with 265,300 pounds of dedicated payload (making a total weight of 731,292 pounds). This new record was flown at Travis AFB, California on 3 April.
Time to Climb to 3,000 Meters: 1 minute, 59.5 seconds
Class C-1.b, Group I-piston engine airplanes weighing 1,102 < 2,205 pounds
Elliot Seguin flew a modified Lancair Legacy from a standing start on the runway to 9,842 feet above Mojave, California's Air and Space Port in less than 2 minutes. This 17 April record beat the previous record of 2 minutes, 8.6 seconds set the year before.
Speed Over a 100 km Closed Course: 397.40 mph
Class C-1.c, Group I-piston engine airplanes weighing 2,205 < 3,858 pounds
Jon Sharp took off from new Mexico's Moriarty Airport in his Nemesis NXT (Neoteric eXperimental Technology) to a point 32 miles south and then back to Moriarty in 9 minutes, 46 seconds. His 1 October flight beat the previous record of 364.18 mph set in 2010.
Record for Balloons
Distance: 6,655.88 miles
Class AA-13-gas balloons, with a volume of 423,776 < 565,035 feet
Troy Bradley and Leonid Tiukhtyaev launched their helium-filled balloon from Saga, Japan on 25 January, and flew for more than 6 days, landing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, Mexico on 31 January. They beat the previous record of 3,543.7 miles set in 1984.
Record for Gliders
Speed Over an Out and Return Course of 1,000 kilometers: 158.47 mph
Class DO-open class, general
Jim Payne and Alan Coombs self-launched their Schempp-Hirth Arcus M motorglider from Nevada's Minden-Tahoe Airport and flew south along the Sierra Nevada Mountains to their start line near Inyokern, California. They proceeded to their turnpoint located over 630 miles north along the Sierra Nevada Mountains-and then returned to Inyokern, before landing back at Mindedn-Tahoe. Their 5 April flight beat the previous record of 132.48 mph set in 2009.
Record for Rotorcraft
Distance Without Landing: 1,027.17 miles
Class E-3.b, Group I-piston engine autogyros weighing 1,102 < 2,205 pounds
Paul Salmon departed El Paso International Airport in Texas in his Magni M22 gyroplane and flew nonstop until reaching his landing spot at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport in Missouri 10 hours later. His 10 November flight beat the previous record of 879.02 set in 2007.
The Record Setters will be honored at NAA's Summer Awards Ceremony on 15 June, 2016 at the Sheraton Pentagon City, in Arlington, Virginia.
To learn more about the NAA and other aviation records and awards, visit their website.