Between the end of WWI and the turn of the century, there were 200 flights around the world, of which 53 were by solo pilots.
During the last few years, an average of two flights around the world are made each year, with every third flight being made by a solo pilot. An increasing number of flights are made with amateur-built aircraft with performances far exceeding those of the commercial machines with designs older by more than thirty years. Amateur-built designs use wing sections, materials and manufacturing processes that « certified » aircraft cannot use due to the extreme cost of that « certification ».
Navigation equipment, especially since the use by civilian pilots of the Global Position System (GPS), and better communication equipment, have made enormous progress since the days of the pioneers. They had to navigate by dead reckoning, using only poor radio direction finding equipment. The use of the GPS by civilian pilots has revolutionised navigation, giving pilots their positon within a few feet every 2 seconds. The calculator part of most GPS, even the smallest ones, give all that is needed to conduct a flight ; distance, speed, time to arrival, just to name a few.
The administrative red tape, paper work, and formalities to enter some countries are worse now than before the last war. Countries of the third world are the worst, but India is their champion for the length of time and the amount of forms to be filled in, signed and counter-signed.Is it possible to fly around the world in a light aircraft ?
Is it possible to do it single handed ?
Is such a flight a responsible adventure ?
The answer is an unequivocal : Yes.
Adventure is within reach for those who want to reach out and take it. Flying around the world is a great and extraordinary adventure, and one of the last great adventures on a planet that is shrinking every day. It is the ultimate flight.
An around the world flight is very expensive and only a few pilots can afford it without some financial help or sponsorship from companies asking for some publicity in return. Sponsorship can come in the form of finance, equipment or assistance along the flight from international companies. In return, the pilot must act his part in the publicity campaign by wearing the sponsor's logo on the aircraft and his person.
Such sponsorships have been used so much in the recent past that the companies that could help are getting tired of being asked unless there is a very good reason or a very special flight which would benefit their business.
To counter the lack of enthusiasm of sponsors, the trend has recently been to link the flight with a good and noble cause, thus bringing attention to it, or raising funds for it. Alternatively, another way, is to use the teaching side of the flight, by linking it with a school or university. Some recent flights used both methods. A school or university can also help in setting up and maintaining an Internet site giving details and news that can be followed daily. There has been some criticism at using children and their schools to help a pilot achieve his personal goal.In summing up, it is necessary to have;
I hope these pages will encourage those pilots tempted by this great adventure. For more information, don't hesitate to write to me as I would be very interested to hear from you and of your progress in your pursuit.
Last update : September 23, 2013
Copyright © Claude Meunier 2000, 2013