Helicopter Departs For Flight Across North And South Poles

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Two helicopter pilots, Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill, took off from Fort Worth, Texas, on Tuesday on the first leg of a flight that will take them to both the North and South Poles. If they succeed, it will be a first. The two will fly their Bell 407 helicopter through 34 countries and cover more than 36,000 miles in about six months. From Texas, they will head south to Mexico and South America, and are scheduled to reach the South Pole on Jan. 9. They head back across South America and along the U.S. West Coast to Alaska and Canada, reaching the North Pole on April 13. They plan to return via Russia, Europe and across the North Atlantic, reaching Fort Worth on May 23. You can follow their flight at their Web site, polarfirst.com. The same team attempted a similar flight in 2003, but crashed in Antarctica. Both pilots suffered serious injuries. The mission includes an educational outreach program in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society. Main sponsors are Bell Helicopter and Shell Aviation.