A brand-new Guinness World Record? Elizabethton pilot’s 9/11 flight may go beyond breaking current record

Published 11:15 am Monday, September 16, 2019

An Elizabethton pilot’s September 11 flight may have done more than break a record; it may have set a brand new one.

Over two dozen friends and family members were waiting for Dan Moore at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, to welcome him home following his attempt to fly into 110 airports within 24 hours.

His flight was not only an attempt to break a Guinness World Record; it was his way of honoring those who lost their lives during the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center — which had 110 flights of stairs.

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He had logged more than 1,750 flight miles in his 19-hour, 8-minute solo flight by the time he landed his Beechcraft Bonanza A-36 airplane in Elizabethton at 12:08 a.m. on Thursday. And although he fell short of his 110 goal, he still topped the current record of 87 airports — “Most Air-fields Visited by a Fixed-Wing aircraft in a 24-hour period.” According to his records and those of his official flight witnesses, Moore visited 92.

Now the work begins to certify his flight, and one of the biggest questions is if he has broken a record or set a new one.

“Several of my flight witnesses have pointed out the fact that the current record of 87 flights in one day was set by two pilots flying together,” Moore said. “They are planning to petition Guinness to establish a solo record, by one pilot only.”

That is something Moore says he would welcome.

“I would rather set a record because it will be a lot harder to break, so we’ll see,” he said.

After 5-1/2 months of planning, Moore left Elizabethton at 5 a.m. on the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 11. Circling and zigzagging through airports from Indianapolis to Memphis to Atlanta, he actually broke the Guinness record when he landed in airport number 88 in Greenville, S.C.

Several airports welcomed Moore with signs and waving well-wishers. “Over those 92 airports, about 200 and 250 people came out to see me,” he said. “Aviation people and people from the community came out. In Princeton, Ky., the mayor was there, and they were holding up signs that said ‘Welcome to Kentucky.’ In Georgia, at 9 p.m., they were having a party at the Monroe/Walton County (recently renamed the Cy Nunnally Memorial Airport) Airport hangar while they were waiting for me to show up.”

Air traffic controllers were also a big help, Moore said. “The air traffic controller (ATC) at McGhee Tyson (Knoxville) offered flight following, putting all traffic controllers online. They were absolutely great…helping me along. I talked to them throughout the flight. I even got a Facebook message from an ATC in Indianapolis who came in early that day so he could work that station and help me out.”

Moore faced several challenges during the flight including an unseasonable and unexpected headwind going toward Clarksville that cost him about an hour.

But it was the heat, from a physical standpoint, that was the hardest.

“Going through Alabama, it was 97 degrees, and it was hotter in the plane,” Moore said. “I had a portable cooler, but no air conditioning, so that unit only lasted about two hours. The interior temperature was around 100-105 degrees, at least. I drank six bottles of Gatorade and nine bottles of water, but that wasn’t enough.”

Moore dreaded the dark too, but also looked forward to the cooler temperatures evening would bring. But as nighttime fell, he faced more difficulties including an unexpected airport closure, hard-to-spot runways, thunderstorms and a Garmin tracking glitch.

“It was quite a day, and when I got out, I was just a little bit numb,” Moore said. “I had been awake 22 hours by then.”

He “ran on adrenaline” for the next two days, conducting a Facebook Live Q&A on Thursday evening. But by Friday morning, he admitted to “really dragging.”

Now all Moore can do is wait. He will work on getting all of the carefully collected information to Guinness, tagging each landing, which he says will take about a week. Additionally, all the documents have to come in from the witnesses.

“All this will take about 12 weeks,” Moore said. “When that time comes, when we get the certificate, we’re going to have a party at the Elizabethton airport. It will be really nice to cap this off that way.”