Friends break aviation world record by flying to all lower 48 states in 38 hours

Posted at 1:25 PM, Jul 07, 2023

RACINE — Two friends have accomplished something that’s never been done before.

“So we just set a Guinness World Record for landing in all 48 of the lower contiguous states. We did it in 38 hours and 13 minutes," pilot John Skittone said.

Skittone and Bob Reynolds flew their plane to every state in the lower 48, landed, and then quickly took off again.

“The shortest distance we spent between two states was probably about four minutes and that happened twice Nebraska and Iowa and Ohio and West Virginia," Skittone said.

World Record
The world record certification plaque from Guinness World Records.

The longest time between states was about two hours.

We met the two aviators at Skittone's home airport in Racine. Reynolds flew the plane they accomplished the feat with to Racine from Chicago's executive airport for the interview.

For Skittone, this was a bucket list adventure.

"You know, for me, it was personal. I have a bucket list. I wrote the bucket list about 15 years ago, and a lot of things on that list were aviation-related places I wanted to go, things that I wanted to see. Well, one of the things on that list - I wanted to visit all 48 states in the same trip," he said.

For Reynolds, he’s a collector of sorts.

“I collect airports.”

World Record Flight
The plane that Bob Reynolds and John Skittone flew to break the world record.

The two-man crew took off on May 17th in Sanford, Maine, and landed at 1 a.m. on May 19th in Southbend, Indiana. There were only a few difficult moments during the flight.

“Suddenly we’re dodging storms to get into Florida and we didn’t know - We took off. We didn’t know if we would get there because of the weather.," Reynolds said.

But these longtime pilots wouldn’t be stopped, except for maybe by the paperwork.

“The documentation was harder than the flying," Reynolds said.

To get it certified as a world record, they needed to film their flight, have witnesses, and track their progress meticulously. Not to mention all the logistical planning of which
airports to fly to so they could be as fast as possible.

“We were changing things literally up to the day of the flight," Skittone said.

All that was worth it, though. Guinness certified the aviation adventurer’s accomplishment.

"We were fairly relaxed, you know, on this flight. We were never particularly stressed about racing or running. If we had been, it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun," Skittone said.

Skittone and Reynolds are no strangers to awesome adventures. This was their fourth such journey. The two have traveled to all the major airports in America among the large-scale trips they've done. Skittone has even done more on his own or with other partners. He has flown across the Atlantic multiple times and circled the tallest peaks in the United States.

"There’s so much eye candy in this country as you fly around," Reynolds said.

Once the two landed in Indiana and finished their 48-state journey, they began planning the next journey. The aviators want to travel to the southernmost airport in South America, Ushuaia, in Argentina.