Well, we're back home now safe and sound after 71 days of flying all around the world. It will take a while for everything to fully sink in; that we actually flew ourselves completely around the entire world. This is an accomplishment I would have never imagined achieving for myself when I first was learning to fly. I mean, most pilots get a big kick out of flying over to the next airport for a $100 burger. Then you do the first 'big trip'. It's most likely flying a state or two away from home to see relatives, attend a business meeting or something. You dream of the possibility of flying your airplane to some exotic location like Mexico, Canada (ok, this isn't so exotic) or the Bahamas. The first time you go, you come back feeling more worldly, you feel different - now you are truly an experienced pilot. Then you read about guys flying across the North Atlantic to Europe and think that would be neat but... how do you figure out how to do it? You read, study, ask questions and figure it out. After all, others have done this, why not you? It can't be that tough, can it? One day you do it, come back and say "That wasn't so hard".
In the back of your mind, you start to think that maybe, just maybe someday I'll fly around the world. Others have done this too (like EarthRounders. But the thought is too big, the task too hard, the distance too great; your flying skills would really need to to be fantastic to be able to do that kind of a flight. You shelve the idea thinking it's a crazy thought but the topic comes up drinking wine in the hot tub over the years and slowly it begins to make some sense (could be the wine talking too!). Then an opportunity comes up to circumnavigate around South America in your own airplane. A company will be handling a lot of the details but I'd still have to be the guy sitting left seat and doing the flying and Tracy was game to handle things from the right seat too. We talk it over and decide it would be really cool to do this and so we sign up for that journey. Five weeks of flying, thousands of miles under our wings and we get back home with a fantastic experience behind us. What a terrific time we had and what an achievement! It was after coming back from that trip in 2006 that set the stage for us thinking we might really be able to do a flight around the world someday. I mentioned to Thierry Pouille, the owner of Air Journey the company that handled the South America flight, of my dream of doing a circumnavigation flight around the world and he said he'd been thinking about it for years too. I replied, "when you're ready to do it we will be ready as well".
Maybe the timing was right, maybe I pushed Thierry a bit, who knows. But a short time later he called to say he was working it out and was I still interested? Oh yeah, baby... you bet! A full year of planning, email discussions, meetings and phone calls later and we launch in May for this big adventure. I realize now, sitting at my office typing this up, that we put a tremendous amount of time and energy into this journey. It's totally consumed Tracy and I for over a year. We did flight training, talked about all the issues with survival in all those inhospitable places we'd have to fly over, planned on what to bring along for clothing, spare parts, etc. Previous entries have documented some of the effort that went into getting ready for this journey. I can tell you that it was worth it. Tracy and I have joined a very small list of people who have piloted their own airplanes all the way around the world and it feels pretty darn good (actually we're officially the 276th light aircraft to do it)!
The best part of accomplishing this flight experience is that we will never have to look back and say "Wish we'd done that when we had the chance". Likewise, nobody can ever take this achievement away. It's 'in the bag' and we will never forget the people, the places and the experiences for as long as we live.
- Journey Time
- 71 Days
- 25,197 nm
- Flight Hours
- 70 VFR, 43 IFR
- 24 VFR, 10 IFR
- Jet Fuel
- 5,997 gals
- PRIST Additive
- 24 cans
Finally, I'm so pleased and honored to have a partner in my life who is supportive, loving and willing to go do things like this with me. Not too many wives would say "Sure Honey, let's go! Sounds like fun!". Most of the other guys on this journey had their wives fly with them for a while from one destination to another then return to the comforts of home. Tracy and I accomplished this entire journey together; from start to finish. From easy flights and fantastic locations to difficult flights and scary locations; she was there for all of it. Calculated risks were taken and difficult situations had to be worked out. We discussed them all and decided together on our course of action. I am especially thankful that she is also an excellent pilot and made my job so much easier as she took over a lot of the cockpit responsibilities for navigation, radios, etc and allowed me to concentrate on flying the airplane. I couldn't have done this flight without her. We're a team in everything we do in life and I'm amazingly lucky to be married to her!
Be sure to take a look at our photo gallery from this adventure at Flight Around the World 2008.
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