Fort Worth-based Bell Textron Inc. is renowned for challenging what’s possible; whether that’s sound barriers, lunar missions, tiltrotor systems or commercial helicopters. Each flight hour accumulated by Bell’s customers serves as another testament to the power of vertical flight.
The company was thrilled to support North Texas’s own Ross Perot Jr. when he set his sights on becoming the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a helicopter. And a modified Bell 206L-1 Long Ranger, the Spirit of Texas, was up for the challenge. The aircraft included full navigation equipment, survival gear and emergency items, p-out floats, and a 151-gallon auxiliary fuel tank in place of the rear seat. The large fuel tank and the ability to fly eight hours without refueling came in handy when traveling around the world. On September 1, 1982, Perot and his co-pilot Jay Coburn departed from Fort Worth in their Bell 206L-1 Long Ranger. Their adventures lasted almost a month long, making stops all over the world including London, England; Naples, Italy; Marseilles, France; Calcutta, India; Cairo, Egypt; Dutch Harbor, Alaska; and Billings, Montana.
They landed in Fort Worth on September 30, completing their voyage in just 29 days, 3 hours and 8 minutes. The trip took a total of 246.5 flight hours at an average ground speed of 117 mph and they flew a total of 26,000 miles. Ross Perot Jr.’s mission to circumvent the world represents one of many that have pushed Bell to discover new solutions and go above and beyond flight. After more than 70 years of Bell’s presence in Fort Worth, Bell looks forward to continuing another 70 years of economic prosperity and supporting the incredible feats of our customers. In 2021, Bell celebrates its 70th anniversary in the region, and through the success of its most committed customers, looks forward to growing its significant impact on the region through advanced aircraft solutions.