‘Round the world, stopping at South and North poles, and Smith Valley | RecordCourier.com

‘Round the world, stopping at South and North poles, and Smith Valley

by Jonni Hill

Smith Valley is scheduled to be part of a historic event at 2 p.m. March 22 when Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill will be arriving from the South Pole in their attempt to set the world record for flying around the world via the South and North poles in their Bell 407 helicopter. The two pilots took off from the Fort Alliance Airport, Texas, on Dec. 5, and will have traveled for 169 days, visiting 34 countries and covering some 36,206 miles before returning back to Dallas.

Murray and Bodill reached the South Pole on Jan. 7, and hope to reach the North Pole on April 12. When visiting Smith Valley, they will have just one month to go until they complete the trip with just less than 14,000 nautical miles to fly.

The pilots are supporting an international charity called SOS Children’s Village Fund which is the world’s largest orphan charity. They are also working with the Royal Geographical Society of London and have developed an online environmental program that schools and children around the world are taking part in. Smith Valley fourth- through sixth-grade students are one of 26 schools that are participating in the program.

The pilots will be spending three nights in Smith Valley where Murray will be visiting her cousin, Georgia Fulstone, speaking to the school children, attending a dinner at the Heyday Inn in Wellington where they will be available to the general public to answer questions and talk about their world record attempt. They are tentatively scheduled for a reception at the Smith Valley Library for Friday evening and to meet with the 99 Club and the Whirlygirls for lunch on Saturday.

Murray, 66, entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1997 as the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a helicopter. In 2000, Murray achieved another world first by flying her helicopter, a Robinson 44, around the world solo. That helicopter is now on display at the Smithsonian Aerospace display at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.

Bodill, 55, is a microlight flier and helicopter pilot who became a World Champion in 1995. He set a world speed record from London to Sydney, Austrialia in 1998 and in 2000 he became the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a weight-shift microflight.

For more information on the world record attempt, their progress and their mission, go to http://www.polarfirst.com or contact Georgia Fulstone in Smith Valley for more information about their visit to the valley at 465-2341.