Wednesday 29th December saw Shuttleworth play host to the UK world record attempt for the biggest gathering of pedal planes – which was duly beaten with a total of 59 in attendance.
The event, run in conjunction with The Plane Guy, The Joystick Club and Youth & Education Support (YES), bettered the previous record of 53, which had been set at Oshkosh in the USA back in July 2019.
Andre Faehndrich (The Plane Guy), the organiser once again behind the event, said: “It was time to restart the friendly trans-Atlantic competition between the UK and USA, and COVID did us a favour by enabling us to spread the UK and USA gatherings evenly apart at six months, rather than the previous odd time frames.”
History of the Event:
The record was first set back in September 2015, when Andre – then part of YES – gathered 15 pedal planes together with The Joystick Club at the Brooklands Aviation Day.
Following a year off due to a lottery grant application by Brooklands (subsequently successful), in October 2017 Andre and YES once more upped the ante with a total of 24 pedal planes. It was then that Andre’s “partner in crime,” Ron Shell, discovered the Pedal Plane Facebook page, then with a mere 850 members.
In July 2018, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) first got involved, gathering 28 pedal planes at Oshkosh. Andre attempted to get a Pietenpol (now owned by the LAA) capable of being dismantled to that event, but only made it Dublin as all flights to Chicago were booked solid for days.
YES then followed this up with 31 in September 2018 at Brooklands Aviation Day.
In July 2019, the EAA then attempted to go for a Guinness World Record, and managed to gather 53 together. Alas, due to some technicalities Guinness did not verify this as a record, though Andre agreed with his US colleagues their record would remain – but would be hard to beat.
In the meantime a Gee Bee video was posted on the Pedal Plane Facebook page, and went viral via the USAF. Membership of the Facebook page jumped to 8,900 members. Andre then only gathered together 19 at Brooklands Museum Aviation Day in September 2019, and although he was determined to win back the record, he had to wait a while.
COVID forced all efforts in 2020 to be postponed, but there was a virtual Pedal Plane Parade organised by the USA in July, which included two UK entries – along with a cameo appearance from Andre’s Border Collie Barney at the end of both UK videos. Barney appears at all the Shuttleworth air shows, along with The Plane Guy and his static Rans S6 Coyote aircraft, which is also used in schools for STEM.
In 2021, the USA were unable to pull together a gathering at Oshkosh in July 2021, and a proposed gathering (albeit smaller than the UK & USA) at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon Airport near Melbourne was cancelled due to COVID.
A record broken:
Andre saw the ideal time to move the UK gathering to late in the year, and once more he pulled together with The Joystick Club, YES, his Belgian customer and several individuals with one, two, three or four pedal planes, bringing them all to Shuttleworth to set a new record, thus beating the current USA record.
On the ground, visitors were not only able to pedal some of the aircraft, but were also treated to a variety of other activities such as:
- Airfix Make ‘n’ Paint (with IPMS Brampton);
- Awesome Aviation Art activity (with the LAA);
- Stupendous Stomp Rockets (with YES);
- Wicked Whirlybirds from the Shuttleworth Discovery Team; and
- Sensational Realflight Simulators (with OWMAC)
“What a superb day, with a new world record of 59 and framed by the wonderful Lysander, the photograph made a truly iconic record of this first pedal plane gathering at Shuttleworth. Thanks a million to all at Shuttleworth, as well as all the many groups and individuals who brought their pride and joys along to the gathering” said Andre, reflecting on a superb event.
The next gathering is proposed to be at Oshkosh in July 2022, with the USA keen to assemble as many as they can to claim the record back.
Plans are already being drawn up to go bigger and better at Shuttleworth in December 2022. See you there!
Main photo credit: Andre Faehndrich with photo-merging by “partner in crime” Ron Shell.