This summer, Colorado pilot Kent Holsinger will attempt to break the world speed record for the fastest flight time in category between the highest airport in North America and the lowest.
He will be traveling approximately 623 miles from Lake County Airport in Leadville at 9,933.5 feet to Furnace Creek Airport, elevation 210 feet below sea level, in Death Valley, California.
The existing record of 147.54 mph (average speed) was set on June 27, 1995, and took approximately 4 hours, 13 minutes. Holsinger hopes to beat the record in a Lancair Super ES airplane powered by a 310 hp piston engine.
“Along the way, I’d like to raise awareness on the importance of our natural resources,” Holsinger said. The route will take him over or near some 17 wilderness areas, five national forests, three national parks, two national recreation areas, two Indian reservations, one national wildlife refuge and five state parks.
“These natural resources are vital for jobs, communities, the economy and our nation,” he said.
Holsinger’s attempt has been sanctioned by the National Aeronautic Association. Founded in 1905, the association is a member of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
“I use the airplane frequently in our law practice at Holsinger Law LLC, a boutique natural resources firm with an emphasis on lands, wildlife and water law,” Holsinger said. “With this flight, I intend to celebrate not only the natural beauty of our western landscape, but the importance of the natural resources that are critical to our food, fiber, energy and light.
“Thanks to the best technology and the toughest environmental laws in the world, we can celebrate not only the beauty and history of these lands but the resources they produce.”
Holsinger conducted a test flight May 12, checking radio and radar coverage and to ensure he could maintain contact with the Denver Center air traffic control over Leadville’s airport.
Scheduling depends upon weather and Holsinger’s other commitments. Holsinger must complete the record attempt no later than Aug. 8.
Winds, thunderstorms or even snow showers could sideline the flight. Equipment failures could keep him on the ground or force a landing short of the destination. Holsinger will seek the cooperation of air traffic control over Leadville, Furnace Creek and parts in between.
Holsinger’s first practice flight was a bust due to air traffic control’s busy workload over Leadville. As a result, he has coordinated with FAA officials to try to make the effort as smooth as possible.
The health of the pilot and the ability to safely make good judgments are also important. Finally, Holsinger has to juggle his work schedule and commitments of everyday life.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The stars really have to align for this trip to be a success,” Holsinger said.