Local pilot to honor 9/11 with Guinness World Record attempt

Published 8:33 am Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Almost everyone remembers where they were on Sept. 11, 2001 and Dan Moore of Elizabethton is certainly no different.

Like many others, Moore was preparing to go to work that day. As a professional pilot, he was getting ready to go fly on Sept. 11, to take aerial photos of tobacco allotments for Farm Service Agency. But when he heard the news the World Trade Center had been attacked, everything stopped. Moore says he remembers being confused and then frightened.

“No one really knew what was going on,” he said. “That was the first time we had ever been attacked on our home soil.”

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Eighteen years later, Moore has decided to honor those who gave their lives that day in a most remarkable way. He will fly the same type of plane that he was preparing to fly that day as he attempts to set a new Guinness World Record — “Most Airfields Visited by a Fixed-Wing Aircraft.” The current record is 87; Moore plans to fly into and land at 110 airports — in honor of the 110 floors of the World Trade Center — in a 24-hour period.

Moore has been making arrangements for the flight for 5-1/2 months. He was inspired by a television program about setting a world record he was watching with one of his sons  That’s when Moore started looking at aviation records.

A former Moody Aviation student, Moore is currently an FAA check airman. He has been flying for 30 years, 22 of those as a professional pilot. He has nearly 10,000 flight hours in over 50 different aircraft models.

“I chose Sept. 11 as the date for this attempt to honor those who lost their lives in the tragic attack on Sept. 11, 2001,” Moore said. “My goal of 110 airports is to pay tribute to the 110 floors of the World Trade Center.”

The 48-year-old pilot will leave the Elizabethton Municipal Airport at about 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11. He will be alone and flying the same type of plane he started to fly 18 years ago — a Beechcraft Bonanza A-36.

Starting in Elizabethton he will fly west toward Knoxville, landing at all airports in that area. Then he will turn north into Kentucky for a while, returning to Tennessee with his first fuel stop planned in Clarksville. He will fly back into Kentucky for a while and then head toward Jackson, Tenn., the western edge of his flight.

His next fuel stop will be in Tullahoma, Tenn., before turning south into Corinth, Miss. He will then will cross over into Alabama briefly before crossing into Georgia and into the Atlanta area. Moore has fuel stop number three planned for Peachtree City, Ga. He will then work his way counterclockwise around Atlanta, flying in and out of numerous airports before landing in Toccoa, Ga.

“When I get to Toccoa, if everything has gone as planned, that will be airport number 88 and that will break the world record,” Moore said.

After leaving Georgia, he will fly into South Carolina for a while, with a final fuel stop in Greenville, S.C. He will then head into North Carolina, hit one or two airports in Virginia, and then return to Elizabethton around 10 p.m.

“That’s 15-16 hours of flight time,” Moore said. “We’ve done some careful scheduling. You also have to add another 1-1.5 hours for fuel stops. All the airports know I’m coming, every airport on the flight plan has been contacted. Fuel stops have to be fast because if you add one minute to every stop it can add two hours to the day.”

While Moore is flying, all the evidence of his flight and stops must be meticulously gathered. Moore’s wife, Melanie, will be in the “control center” at home manning two computers.

“Flying is the easy part,” Moore said. “All of this has to be carefully witnessed, recorded, and verified. I will be taking photos of all the airports with my phone that has a time stamp app. Melanie is taking off work to manage all the witnesses and will be making sure everything is working on the ground, that the satellite tracker is working to provide a live tracking link.”

Trying to leave nothing to chance, he has already completed three practice runs.

Moore is especially grateful to his sponsors, Titan Fuels (Shell Aviation), Jet-Shades, Propelling Aviation, Tennessee Flight Services, Elizabethton Municipal Airport, Michelin Aviation Tires, Phillips 66 Lubricants and Tempest Oil Filters. He also expressed appreciation to Elizabethton Municipal Airport Director Dan Cogan who he says was influential in getting Titan Fuels (Shell Aviation) to provide fuel for the flight.

Beyond the world record attempt, Moore feels strongly about commemorating the day. “I’ve always thought 9/11 was something we need to remind our kids of. My kids weren’t born then. My sons are 10 and 15 so they don’t really understand. We just can’t take what we have for granted.”

Anyone interested can follow Moore’s flight live by logging into Facebook at fb.com/110 airports, Twitter @110record, or his website, 110airports.com