The Spirit of Butts Farm (also known as TAM 5) became the first model aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean on August 11, 2003. The aircraft was launched from Cape Spear near St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, and landed at Mannin Beach near Clifden, Ireland 38.5 hours later. It was recognized by the FAI as a double world record flight for its duration and straight line distance of 3,030 km using an autopilot. The aircraft was controlled by autopilot for >99% of the flight in a manner similar to that used by the Insitu Aerosonde UAV “Laima” that crossed the Atlantic in 1998. Two ounces of fuel remained at the end of the flight.
The aircraft was built by a team led by Maynard Hill, a retired metallurgist. Hill had previously set 25 model airplane records and was inducted into the Model Aviation Hall of Fame in 1977. The Spirit of Butts Farm was the 25th model the team had built in the attempt to cross the Atlantic. Later, describing his reaction to learning that the flight had been successful, Hill said, “I just grabbed my wife, hugged her and cried like a baby.”
The aircraft was named after Beecher Butts, an aviation enthusiast who allowed use of his farm for testing of the aircraft. The name echoes that of the Spirit of St. Louis, the aircraft used by Charles Lindbergh in his trans-Atlantic flight. The aircraft is on display at the National Model Aviation Museum. A backup plane for the trans-Atlantic effort is in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum.
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Maynard Hill & Team (private individuals not a company)