|There is a 1958 Cessna 172 hanging from the ceiling in the north end of the Terminal 1 Baggage Claim area at the Las Vegas McCarran airport. But why is it there?
Aircraft (N9217B) restored 1958 Cessna 172 with 2 “pilots” aboard
In 1956 the Hacienda Hotel was the first family oriented hotel and casino in Las Vegas but due to its (then) far location at the southern end of the “strip” businessman investor, Warren “Doc” Bayley was worried about the casino’s reputation and decided to do something about it. In a publicity stunt disguised as a fund raiser for the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation it was decided that an an attempt to break the manned flight endurance world record would surely bring a lot of attention to the 266 room casino/hotel!
(It should be noted that it was actually Robert Timm, a slot machine mechanic and casino employee, that suggested the flight attempt but Bayley added the fund raising twist.)
Now that the flight was a go, and $100,000 was committed to the project, it was time for Timm and lead mechanic Irv Kuenzi to select and modify an airplane for the record breaking attempt. They chose a 1958 Cessna 172 and worked on it for a year modifying the interior, adding an extra fuel tank, modifying the oil system (so that the oil could be changed in flight), and adding the inflight refueling system.
Refueling would be accomplished by flying low to the ground, passing a fuel line to a speeding truck beneath them and refilling the tanks which took about three minutes to complete.
There were three attempts to complete the flight (none of which lasted more than 17 days) but on the fourth attempt they were successful.
|World Endurance Flight Record:
• Time in the air: 64 days: 22 hours: 19 minutes: 05 seconds