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Bay Area pilots lift-off on trip around globe

Bay Area pilots lift-off on trip around globe

San Ramon navigator embarks on journey in attempting to break multiple aviation records

By Sean Holstege
STAFF WRITER

Thursday, May 13, 2004 - Three Bay Area pilots took to the sky Wednesday in a 70-hour marathon attempt to circle the globe and break 39 aviation records, after being grounded for more than a week.

Matt Brooks, the 52-year-old flight commander from San Francisco, pilot Fred Lohden, 62, of Oakland and San Ramon navigator Tim Weber, 32, lifted off in their twin-jet Cessna Citation from Teterboro, N.J. at 8:21 a.m. local time. They were nearly 21/2 hours behind schedule on their westward trek against the prevailing winds.

By Wednesday evening, the trio was heading across

Alaskan skies before attempting one of the riskiest legs of the entire globe-trotting voyage. It will take them from Nome, Alaska, across the frigid Bering Strait to the remote Siberian port of Petropavlovsk, home a former secret Soviet submarine base.

Wednesday's flight was an orderly hopscotch across North America. After lifting off, the "World Flight" team touched down in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., roughly 31/2 hours later. A little more than three hours after that, they reached Houston, before completing a nearly 4-hour flight to Salt Lake City.

The crew was on their way to Juneau, Alaska, but could not be reached on their satellite phone or cell phone at press time.

They are due back in New Jersey early on Saturday morning. If they complete their mission successfully, the Bay Area pilots will hold speed, distance and climbing records for aircraft in the Cessna's 12,500-pound weight class. They will have logged 22,860 nautical miles and stopped in 13 countries.

Progress of the World Flight exploits can be tracked at www.ardenflight.com

Contact Sean Holstege at sholstege@angnewspapers.com