FORT WORTH, Texas – Three years after crashing and nearly dying in an Antarctic snowstorm, two helicopter pilots took off Tuesday for another attempt to fly around the world by way of the North and South poles.
Adventurers Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill would be the first to complete a journey by helicopter on that course. Murray, 66, and Bodill, 55, are scheduled to return to Texas in 169 days after traveling 41,000 miles and visiting 34 countries.
Their first leg was a 97-mile hop to Waco, Texas.
From there, the pair will travel up to 500 miles a day, stopping for rest and fuel. In 26 days, they will return to the South Pole, where on their first attempt in 2003 they crashed on Antarctica's Ronne Ice Shelf.
Bodill was at the controls at the time and said pilot error caused the crash because he should not have tried to fly through whiteout conditions. He suffered a broken back, two broken ribs, a split liver, damaged kidneys and internal bleeding. But he still managed to get Murray, who broke a rib and dislocated a shoulder, into a tent, where they hunkered down for 4 1/2 hours to wait for rescuers.
The wreck is a major motivation, Bodill said.
"There's some unfinished business when you attempt a record like this and fail," he said. "The only way to lay that to rest is to finish the job."
Murray was the first woman to pilot a helicopter around the world in 1997, and in 2000 she was the first to do it solo. Bodill's biography describes him as the first person to fly around the world in a "weight-shift Microlight" airplane.