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22nd of July 1983

Today's subject in this look at aviation history is the completion of a flight and with that a first! It was on this day in aviation history that Dick Smith completed the first solo flight around the globe, in a helicopter! It was the completion of a 30638 nautical mile (56742 km) trip. He used a Bell Jetranger 206B named Australian Explorer for the flight which he had bought new from the manufacturer.

The aircraft was extensively modified for the record-breaking flight. Form an extra long-range fuel tank (700nm range instead of 400nm) to map cabinet and a sophisticated Collins Autopilot. Additional several camera mounts were installed on the aircraft to facilitate filming in flight. Other equipment comprised of a liferaft with survival gear, an EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) and an arctic survival suit. The helicopter would be used for more record-breaking flights over the years to come.

It was not the first record-breaking flight that Mr Smith completed, he did his best to enter the records books rather successfully several times:

  • First solo trans-Atlantic flight by helicopter (1982)

  • First helicopter to the North Pole (1987)

  • First circumnavigation landing at both poles (1989)

  • First non-stop balloon crossing of the Australian continent (1993)

  • First east-west circumnavigation by helicopter (1995)

  • First Trans-Tasman balloon flight (2000)

Besides his record-breaking flights, he flew all over the world.

An impressive map of his flights

Some specifications for the helicopter (VH-DIK, s/n 3653) used for the solo flight around the world.

  • Manufacturer: Bell Helicopter Textron, Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.A.

  • Model: 206B Jetranger III

  • Date of manufacture: June 1982

  • Engine: Allison free-turbine 250-C20J

  • Engine power: 313 kW (420 shp)

  • Service ceiling: 6 096 m (20 000 ft)

  • Maximum speed: 250 km/h (155 mph)

  • Gross weight: 3 201 lb (1 452 kg)

  • Accommodation: pilot plus 4 adults

  • Navigation, radio and radar equipment:

Collins Radio 7 Navigation Equipment

Collins Auto Pilot

Collins LRN 70 VLF/Omega

King Radar Altimeter

FM Marine VHF

(The aircraft is now on display in the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Castle Hill NSW, Australia)

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