Record Breakers Goes Off Record

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Airplanes had been the most convenient choice of transportation by noted government officials and celebrities alike. Despite the move to make them as safe as possible and easily traceable in case of a crash as had been learned from tragedies involving it, there remain countless cases of lost aircraft which had been the subject of search and rescue and took time before being found, and in rare situations, they were never found and the loss remained a mystery. Imagine being such a celebrity, earning a name as a person who has excelled in life, it maybe in sports, performing arts, aviation or certain scientific milestones nobody has ever achieved. Your name earned you the status and your financial earnings allowed you to own and fly a plane, charter one for personal use or yet to fly one for another record attempt. Then with all such fame and prestige allowing the world to see you one last time after taking off somewhere along the route you suddenly disappear and could never be found. In the same scenario, I have here compiled interesting cases of renowned record holders who suddenly goes off record.

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Wiley Post had been credited with two world records; in June 1931 he flew with a navigator aboard a Lockheed Vega and completed a flight around the world in 8 days, 15 hours, 15 minutes. 2 years later in July 1933, he had flown alone on the same aircraft and repeated the same feat making him the first aviator to fly solo around the world. His feat ended on 15 August 1935 when he crashed with a passenger upon takeoff at Point Barrow Alaska due to bad weather.

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Amelia Earhart earned recognition as the first woman pilot to cross the Atlantic. In 20 May 1932, she took off alone on her Lockheed Vega from Harbor Grace Newfoundland and landed in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. On 2 July 1937, Amelia Earhart disappeared with her navigator Fred Noonan on a leg of an attempt to fly around the world and no wreckage had been found till now.

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Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin as everyone knew earned reputation as the first human in outer space and the first to orbit the Earth in his tour of duty as a Russian cosmonaut on 12 April 1961. On 27 March 1968, Yuri crashed aboard his MiG-15UTI while on training mission east of Moscow, Russia.

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Rocky Marciano was born Rocco Francis Marchegiano and held the title as the heavyweight champion of the world from 1952 to 1956. On 31 August 1969 he and two others perished on a crash aboard a Cessna 172 while attempting to land sort of the runway hitting a tree on a night flight in bad weather.

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Francis Gary Powers rose to fame while working for the CIA as the U2 spyplane pilot shot down over Soviet Union at the midst of the Cold War in 01 May 1960. Captured, he served time in Vladimirsky Central Prison at Vladimir, east of Moscow until he was subjected to a “ spy swap” agreement entered by the US for another Soviet spy caught in the US, Frederic Pryor. The swap was made in 10 February 1962 at at the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin, Germany. On 01 August 1977, Powers died in a helicopter crash aboard a Bell 206 Jetranger helicopter while flying for KNBC TV at Los Angeles, California. He was covering a brush fire and had run out of fuel, a misappropriation due to the faulty fuel quantity gauge which was not reported by the helicopter mechanic.

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John Denverwas born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. and never actually broke any world record to his name except perhaps for the fact that of all singers who died in a plane crash, he was the only one flying as a pilot during his death. But mind you with so many hit songs in the country music/folksong genre he didn’t broke records but made a million record hits to be worthy of the honor. On 12 October 1997, Denver died when his Rutan Long Eze experimantal aircraft crashed near Monterey, California. At first the rescuers didn’t identified his body having his face damaged beyond recognition but authorities were able to extract fingerprints allowing identification. The crash was rooted to the unusual location of the fuel selector switch behind the pilot, while trying to reach out for the switch, the pilot will have the tendency to put pressure on the right rudder pedal while reaching out for the switch. True to his song title, “Leaving on a Jet Plane”  he unconsciously had the premonition of his death, except of course for the fact that the plane he was on was powered by a piston engine.

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Albert Scott Crossfield or popularly known as Scott Crossfield was an American Naval Officer and test pilot. On 20 November 1953, he became the first man to fly at twice the speed of sound as he piloted the Skyrocket to a speed of 1,291 mph (2,078 km/h, Mach 2.005). On 19 April 2006, a Cessna 210 Centurion piloted by Crossfield was reported missing while flying from Prattville, Alabama toward Manassas, Virginia. On 20 April 2006 authorities confirmed his body was found in the wreckage of his plane in a remote area of Gordon County, Georgia. There were severe thunderstorms in the area when air traffic monitors lost radio and radar contact with Crossfield’s plane.

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Steve Fossett was born James Stephen Fossett and held 116 records in 5 different sports of which 60 still stand as of June 2007. He was an American businessman, aviator, sailor and adventurer. Having the luxury his business afforded him, he broke records on his own pocket among which made him popular, the first solo, non-stop flight around the world in a balloon, the first solo non-stop unrefueled flight around the world aboard a jet aircraft, the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer in 2005 and his last, the longest flight by any aircraft in history on the same aircraft in 2006. On 03 September 2007, Fossett was reported missing when the Bellanca Super Decathlon he was flying never returned after taking off at Flying M Ranch near Yerington, Nevada.  Despite a month of search employed by the Civil Air Patrol and the whole aviation community, he was never found until 29 September 2008 when a hiker found his identification cards in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Days later the crash site was found and on 03 November 2008, tests conducted on two bones recovered distance away from the site of the crash confirmed a match to fossett’s DNA thereby confirming his death.

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