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Business Aviation Milestone: February 1979 Armstrong Breaks Altitude Record

Neil Armstrong Business Flight Record Celebrated

February 23, 2011

Business aviation this week celebrates the 32nd anniversary of a world record for altitude in a business jet. Made by No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign spokesman Neil Armstrong on February 21, 1979, the flight reached 51,131 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, in the process breaking five world records for business jets.

On the record flight in a Learjet 28, Armstrong took off from the 3,000-foot long Kitty Hawk, North Carolina airport, only a few yards from where Wilbur and Orville Wright had made their first flight 75 years before. Armstrong reached 51,131 feet (15,000 meters) just 12 minutes and 27 seconds after takeoff, for an average ascent of over 4,000 feet per minute.

Although widely celebrated, Armstrong's February 21 flight actually broke an altitude record he set two days earlier with the airplane by reaching 51,130 feet. On that flight, he also set a world record for time to climb to 15,000 meters (49,212.6 feet).

Armstrong is a long-time business aircraft pilot who also was the first human to set foot on the moon. He has been a spokesman for the No Plane No Gain campaign www.noplanenogain.org since 2010. In advertisements for the campaign, he appears with the moon in the background, noting: "You can settle for email and conference calls, but nothing beats being there. Trust me on this." The implication is that, Armstrong knows as well as anyone the value of being at a location in person, and therefore clearly understands the reason so many companies rely on business aviation.

In addition to his business aviation achievements, Armstrong holds records registered with the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, including four won during the July 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon. He was awarded "extravehicular duration in space," "duration of stay on the surface of a celestial body," "extracurricular duration on the surface of the celestial body by an astronaut," and "greatest mass landed on the celestial body."