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Cyclists race the plane challenge

Cyclists race the plane in 2018 Heathrow challenge, taking on United Airlines flight.

Cyclists race the plane challenge
By Heathrow

UPDATE: The cyclists beat the plane by 90 minutes!

Landing gear, up. Autopilot, engaged. Race, commenced. The competition is on as 364 Team Heathrow colleagues race at over 400mph to beat a United Airlines flight to Newark.
  • The challenge sees over 400 cyclists from the airport race a United flight from Heathrow, to New York, raising money for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award charity
  • United flight, UA883, flying from Heathrow Terminal 2 to Newark Liberty Airport in New York departed at 7:55am giving the cyclists 8 hours to beat the transatlantic flight
  • His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex visits Heathrow as airport celebrates DofE partnership, with cyclists taking part in the third annual Race the Plane challenge
  • His Royal Highness also met with DofE volunteers, viewed the DofE gallery installation and was shown the DofE mosaic

During the eight-hour challenge, 28 teams made up of 15 cyclists will have 30 minutes to cycle as quickly as they can on stationary watt bikes under the iconic Slipstream in Terminal 2 to cover distance more quickly than the plane.

Today’s riders are taking on a flight that took off from Heathrow at 07:55 and will land in Newark around 15:00 BST.

His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex was also on hand to cheer on the over 400 Heathrow colleagues and partners cycling.

In addition to viewing the Race the Plane challenge, HRH The Earl of Wessex was also shown several other DofE activities throughout the airport including a DofE history gallery showcasing the history of the Heathrow and DofE partnership, where volunteers had the opportunity to discuss their involvement with the charity. His Royal Highness then had an opportunity to see a DofE mosaic as it is was being completed, before it is permanently displayed in the airport.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye commented on the event, “We’re proud to host His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex as our colleagues compete in Heathrow’s third annual Race the Plane charity challenge, raising money for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

“Heathrow is committed to working with the DofE to help more local young people learn new skills and we look forward to continuing our strategic partnership with this charity.”

Bob Schumacher, United’s Managing Director UK and Ireland, said, “It is great that over 400 participants are racing United flight UA883 from London Heathrow to New York/Newark, with the aim of raising over £100,000 for charity.”

“Underpinning our commitment to inclusion, today’s race also marks the launch of our partnership with Special Olympics GB which sees SOGB athletes along with United employees taking part in the event. Let the race begin!”

Fast facts about the 2018 Race the Plane event:

  • The flight takes off from Heathrow at 07:55 and lands in Newark around 15:00 BST. That means riders have around eight hours to pedal over 3,900 miles, reaching speeds of over 400mph.
  • The annual event is expected to raise over £100,000 for the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) award.
  • This is the third time Race the Plane has taken place at the airport, with riders from across Team Heathrow all taking part.

Last year’s Race the Plane charity challenge saw 350 cyclists beat Air Canada flight AC869 from London Heathrow to Toronto Pearson Airport raising £100,000 for charity.

Race the Plane is just one of the many amazing #lifeatheathrow moments that colleagues can get involved in and help give something back. This year we’ve seen colleagues face their fear of heights on the T5 SkyWire, take on the mountains in the DofE adventure and take the crown from Bevo’s Babes in the 5-a-side tournament.

Keep an eye on #RaceThePlane on Twitter for fun pics and updates from the event!