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Around the world centennial flight lands, raises money for Learjet 23 restoration

The crew flying around the world to raise money to restore the first delivered Learjet 23 landed successfully on Saturday, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the first-ever around-the-world flight on April 6, 1924.RELATED STORY:Around the world flight takes off, raising money for Learjet 23 restoration The Classic Lear Jet Foundation teamed up with air ambulance operator Global Jet Care to take on a historic fundraising mission. Taking off on April 4 from Wichita, Kansas, in Global Jetcare's Learjet 36 (N41GJ) the crew had a mission to complete its record journey on the same day as the crew did 100 years before. The crew took off in the early morning, flying west from the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport (ICT). The Learjet stopped in Salinas, California (SNS) and then Kailua/Kona, Hawaii (HKO). The crew was making good time, with live tracking showing the journey's progress. Crew members included Bart Gray from Global Jetcare, Joshua Podlich, Kirby Ezelle, flight instructor/adventure pilot John Bone and Joel Weber from the Classic Learjet Foundation. The trip centered around history, taking off in Wichita, the area where the first Learjet was delivered in 1964. The group was inspired by a flight 100 years ago, where eight U.S. Army Air Service pilots flew around the world in four modified DT-2 torpedo bombers, completing the journey 175 days later after making 74 stops and covering 27,550 miles. The ambitious crew set off as part of the centennial celebration, honoring the brave pilots who completed the journey a century before. Unlike other record-setting flights that flew eastbound, the crew flew west. Flying west included added difficulties as the plane is flying into a headwind instead of having a tailwind. After days of flying and 11 stops around the globe, the record-setting crew returned home. The modified Learjet 36 touched down in Wichita on April 6 at 7:16 p.m. with a crowd cheering their arrival. While the first crew took 175 days to make its journey around the world, the Learjet 36 crew flew for around 60 hours and covered over 20,000 miles.The flight was not only honoring the 100th anniversary of the first around the world flight but raising money for a restoration. The Classic Lear Jet Foundation has a mission to restore the Learjet 23, serial number 23-003. The foundation aims to keep the plane in flying condition to honor the plane, company and founder who inspired so many. The success of the Learjet led to numerous other designs and developments that were integral to the growing aviation industry of the 1960s and 70s. This model inspired other jets like the Model 24, which flew around the world and broke 18 international aviation records. The first Learjet 23 was introduced in 1964 and production ended in 1966, with 101 delivered. By 1998 there were only about 39 still in use, with many lost or damaged beyond repair. In January the foundation began to disassemble its Learjet 23, focusing on the nose and removing the avionics and other components for inspection and to be put into storage. The money raised through the around the world flight will be used for the restoration, bringing the foundation another step closer to reuniting the Learjet 23 with the sky.
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