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Thu, May 24, 2007

Polar First Team Successfully Completes RTW, Pole-To-Pole Helo Trip

Returns To Texas Launch Site

They did it! Wednesday afternoon, just after 1300 CDT, pilots Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill returned to their Fort Worth, TX launch location, complete with another world record to add to their list of aviation accomplishments. The pair successfully completed their flight around the world, pole to pole, in a Bell 407.

As ANN reported, the team began their historic trip, called Polar First, last December from the Bell Helicopter facility at Alliance Airport. The team's 189-day trip took them through 34 countries, and covered more than 36,000 miles.

"We've accomplished what no one's ever done before, and it's a pretty darn good feeling," Murray told The Associated Press. "We've really seen it all. We've seen the best, and we've seen the worst. We've had tough times, and we've had great times."

Speaking on behalf of Bell Helicopter, Mike Blake, executive vice president Customer Solutions stated, "Bell Helicopter is grateful for the safe return of these two aviation pioneers and proud of the significant role our 407 helicopter played in this historic mission."

A major component of the Polar First mission was an educational outreach program in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society who worked with 28 key international schools in the countries visited during the journey.

As Aero-News reported, the team's first attempt at the record failed in 2003, when their helicopter crashed in whiteout conditions at the South Pole. Both pilots suffered serious injuries in the accident... but vowed to keep trying.

In a particularly poignant moment during this second attempt, Murray and Bodill returned to the site of the crash, and buried the keys from that first helicopter there... under clear, blue skies.

"It was a very healing and wonderful moment," Murray said.

FMI: www.polarfirst.com

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