Published: Oct. 1, 2019

Kent holsinger

In June, pilot and lawyer Kent Holsinger (Psych’93) of Denver set a world flightspeed record for the 528-mile route between North America’s highest- and lowest-situated airports — Lake County in Leadville, Colo., and Furnace Creek in Death Valley, Calif. He did it in 3 hours, 13 minutes (beating the previous record by 29 minutes) in his Lancair Super ES airplane, powered by a 310-horsepower piston engine.

Why did you start flying?

I had three business trips where I had to be back and forth between Grand Junction or Montrose and Denver in a single day — up to 10 hours in the car. A client told me about charter flights, and one thing led to another.

Favorite route?

My route to my parents’ home in North Park: You cross the continental divide twice. Grand Lake and Longs Peak are off the right wingtip. You see the headwaters of the Colorado River and the North Platte River from virtually one spot.

What led to the record flight?

We have the highest airport in our backyard. I was intrigued about the lowest. I considered the incredible landscape and the natural resources between them. When I learned there was an existing record, I thought I could beat it.

Any harrowing moments?

Snowstorms over the central mountains were moving quickly. Air traffic control lost me on radar.

Other records in the works?

It’s a process to sanction a world record attempt. I’m not eager to repeat it, but I won’t rule out another fun one!

Photo courtesy Kent Holsinger