Despite the fact that we've yet to leave our home state of Florida, it feels as if our great journey has already begun. Over the weekend Art and I attended our second and final meeting leading up to our May launch date for our flight round the world. There are so many things that have to be done in order to be prepared for a flight of this magnitude; it can easily seem overwhelming. The paperwork, filling out all of the visa applications, extra documents for the airplane, obtaining second passports, arranging prescriptions, and updating vaccinations for twenty-seven countries has been a big job. Just when we think we've satisfied all of the requirements, we find there is another document, or another license, we still need to acquire in increasingly limited time. The airplane- our faithful Pilatus PC-12 is in top shape, but Art and I need some work! We both have been working at getting into better shape, however, with just six weeks to go, we're feeling the pressure to do more exercising.
Our traveling companions are knowledgeable and friendly. We're flying as a group of five aircraft on this journey- five different flight crews with varying passengers as the trip progresses. This was our second meeting together and was much more relaxed than the first, we've all been conversing daily on the web-forum that Art set up. It's allowed us to get to know each other better, and made us all more respectful of each other's experiences- everyone's had something valuable to add. Tracy Forrest, for example, a pilot in the group who will be making the trip in his Citation jet, was kind enough to open up his hanger for a fun party on Saturday. He also let us use his offices for our meeting- thank you Tracy! In our meetings we covered a lot of information over the two-day seminar. Thierry, the president of Air Journey, has left nothing to chance and brought in top people to guide and advise.
We had a pilot centered travel medical briefing with Dr. Kevin Ware which was a real eye opener- there are so many interesting, unexpected, and unusual ways to become ill! We talked about flight safety issues, emergency equipment and procedures with with our trip director; Jean-Pierre Arnaud (JP), Thierry's wife Sophie, told us about the many wonderful tours and activities she's planned for us- if we get to do even half it will be the experience of a lifetime. We also went over weather, routing, and the one remaining bug-a-boo in our itinerary; China. It seems the Chinese have no idea why a person would want to fly their own airplane to simply see the world- for them, a private airplane is a vehicle that only takes you from one place to another for business. We'll have to see how this turns out. No one has added up the combined flight experience of all of the crews, however, I'm certain it's many tens of thousands of flight hours in general aviation aircraft. As far as I know at this time, I'm the only woman pilot in the group flying the entire trip- this should prove interesting.