ABOUT THE FLIGHT.
Jim has chosen to use a Cessna Skylane which is a single engine light aircraft with a range of a thousand miles. The aircraft is a four seater but the space where the rear seats are usually located will be taken up by the safety equipment which includes a dingy and survival suits. These items are mandatory when crossing oceans, which on this flight include more than two thousand miles of the Atlantic with refuelling stops at Greenland and Iceland.
The cramped conditions of a light aircraft cockpit which is smaller than a car and being buffeted by the weather are not to everybody’s liking. Less than three ‘around the world’ flights are made each year, that’s two hundred and twenty-five since the first successful flight in 1931, eighty-five years ago.
Jim has taken more than a year to plan the route, organise permissions to enter the airspace of some countries and avoid the problems caused by the present political climate. Once airborne he will have the weather to deal with, this can include severe winds, storms, fog, rain, snow, ice, dust and possibly some volcanic activity.
The flight will begin at Liverpool and take around 40days to complete depending on the weather and service requirements of the aircraft. The route will cross 20 countries and he will be landing in many small airfields and visit places not usually on the tourist itineraries.
The first around the world journey was probably made by Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, with a three year journey starting in 1519. In 1873 Jules Verne, a French author, wrote a travel story, ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’, whereby a fictional Englishman, Phileas Fogg attempted to circumnavigate the globe in less than eighty days. Fogg accomplished that feat using road, rail and sea transport.
Flying around the world in a single engine light aircraft is usually regarded as risky. It took another fifty eight years following Phileas Fogg before Wiley Post an American pilot who in 1931 made the first circumnavigation in an aircraft. He took less than eight days and that time is very difficult to beat, even now eighty five years later.
There are guidelines that have to be adhered to. It has to be the same crew, same aircraft, a single journey with the same start and finish point and the aircraft cannot be transhipped across the oceans. Jim’s intention is to follow the original Wiley Post route as closely as possible allowing for the present political climate.
Two hundred and twenty pilots have made the journey in a single engine aircraft since Wiley Post’s flight eighty five years ago, compared to seven thousand climbers who have stood on the summit of Everest since the first successful climb a mere thirty-three years ago.
Take a look at this video from Cessna, the largest manufacturer of small aircraft and one of the most popular with private pilots.