With a wild hare of a world record for most airports flown into during a 24-hour time frame and after some research to check if it was truly feasible, Tennessee pilot Dan Moore thought when would be a good time to attempt such a feat.
The question came to mind around late May or early June of this year and Moore thought back to one of the best weather days he could remember. It also happened to be a day no American would be able to forget.
"I started thinking about when is weather the best; it's starting to cool off but there's still plenty of daylight," Moore recalled. "Maybe because of what happened and it's indelible in my mind, it was Sept. 11. That was one of best weather days I could remember."
Eighteen years ago, he said he was planning on flying that day prior to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon and Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania.
"I decided why don't I honor those who lost their lives and those who went in to save those lives and lost their lives in the process," Moore said. "Why don't I honor those folks by doing it on Sept. 11."
Moore took off from his home airport of Elizabethton Municipal Airport last Wednesday at 5 a.m. EDT with a goal of visiting 110 airports in a day in a fixed wing aircraft. The 110 airports symbolized the 110 stories of the World Trade Center towers.
One of the airports where he landed was Mayfield-Graves County Airport. He landed at 9:26 a.m. CDT and then immediately took off again. Witnesses had to corroborate his landings and departures along his flight path that covered Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
At times it was a tough go, according to Moore, with headwinds that cost him around 45 minutes to 1½ hours of flying time between east and middle Tennessee. He later encountered storms in Alabama and Tennessee that resulted in him deviating from his plan.
Another airport in Georgia had resealed its runway and didn't alert Moore prior to his flight. "So I ended up wasting another 15-20 minutes going over there," he said.
A couple of other airports he didn't reach until after dark; however those airports didn't have lights.
"If I'd been 15 minutes earlier, I probably would have made those airports," Moore added.
He did credit the crowds that turned out at several airports to cheer him on his voyage. One showed up in Princeton, Kentucky, when he landed and also at an airport in Georgia, which threw a party during that stop.
"That was like having my own cheering section," Moore said. "It kept me going."
With 18 witnesses monitoring his flight and Garmen tracking software, Moore and his wife are gathering all the information and accounts to provide to the Guinness World Record.
"She was Houston of the operation," he said.
While Moore missed the 110 mark, he has established an unofficial record of 92 airports visited in 24 hours. The previous record of 87 airports was set by two men in the United Kingdom.
His final time was 19 hours and 9 minutes, which included an approximate hour for four fuel stops.
With the previous record being held by two pilots, Moore said some are wanting to petition Guinness with splitting the record for a solo flight and a record for dual pilots.
"Either way, I've broken their record but it could be that I've set an entirely new record," he said. As for a preference, he said he'd like to establish the solo flight record believing it would stand longer.
"Not only was I managing the aircraft, flying, landing and taking off, and doing the checklist and talking to air traffic controllers," Moore said, "but in addition I had to keep three GoPro cameras going with it over 100 degrees in the cockpit."