Saturday, February 11, 2017

Final post: Facts, Figures, and Appreciation (by Jack)

With the Polar Round the World flight officially complete, I thought I would offer some facts and figures regarding the journey and final words of appreciation for all the people that helped make the trip possible.

Facts and Figures

These data cover both the northern part of the flight completed in August 2016 and the southern part completed in January 2017.

Miles: 38,273 statue miles (or 33,281 nautical miles) per the flight plans

Flight hours: 144.1

Wind: Average headwind component of five knots (per the flight plans).

Continents landed in: 5: North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and, of course, Antarctica!

Countries over-flown: 28: United States, Canada, France (extra credit to someone that can figure that out...hint, it was an island), Greenland, Iceland, United Kingdom, Faroe Islands, Azores/Portugal, Cape Verde, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Sao Tome, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Antarctica (technically not a country), Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Mexico.

Countries landed in15: United States, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, United Kingdom, Faroe Islands, Azores/Portugal, Cape Verde, Ghana, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Antarctica, Peru, and Costa Rica.

Longest flight (distance): 1,673 NM (the round-robin flight over Antarctica)

Shortest flight (distance): 373 NM (Faroe Islands to Akureyri, Iceland)

Average flight (distance): 1,109 NM

Longest flight (time): 8+30 (the round-robin flight over Antarctica)

Shortest flight (time): 2+06 (Newcastle, UK to Faroe Islands)

Average flight (time): 4+48

Flights cancelled due to maintenance issues: Zero (the plane performed great!)

Modifications to the plane: None (the plane is total stock from the factory)

Flights cancelled due to weather: Zero (not considering the Antarctica flights)

Scary events in flight: None (sorry, no exciting near death experiences to relate)

Emails: 1,121 emails related to this flight since January 2016

Trip cost: Unknown (I don't know and don't want to know!)


Making this trip happen required the collective effort of many, many people.  I was mainly the bus driver. I can't possibly name everyone involved, but here are a few.

Many people I have never met in person helped us greatly.

Harry Anderson is author of a wonderful booked titled Flying Seven Continents Solo. His book provided much helpful advice in the early stages of our planning, particularly regarding the process of obtaining the necessary approvals to fly to Antarctica.

This trip required the approval of three different US agencies...the State Department, the  Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation. Each and every person we dealt with at these agencies was professional and courteous. While they had legal obligations to fulfill with respect to our flight, their attitude was positive and helpful.

The entire Foxtrot Team at Universal Aviation provided the overarching coordination of permits and ground handling for the trip. Thanks to the whole Foxtrot Team and especially David Deternoz who took a lead role on our trip. Despite this being a very complex trip and well outside the type of flight they normally handle, the Foxtrot Team did an unfailingly excellent job. We always got a quick response to questions and requests and never encountered a significant delay due to permits or ground handling.

Alan Meredith, Chief Pilot of the British Antarctic Survey, provided us invaluable advice regarding flying in the unique environment of Antarctica. The knowledge he has gleaned from 14 years of flying in this beautiful white continent and shared with us was critical to many of the decisions we had to make. He even sent us a beautiful set of special Antarctic aviation charts all the way from Rothera Research Station. These charts are being framed and will be proudly displayed at our home in Austin.

Nicolas Pivcevic and his company DAP Airlines provided us essential support at Teniente Rodolfo Marsh Martin airfield on King George Island. While Mr. Pivcevic is an owner and runs DAP Airlines, he is also a pilot and took a special interest in our journey. Supporting unaffiliated flights in Antarctica it not a normal activity for DAP, but Mr. Pivcevic made an exception for us.

We were fortunate to meet many very helpful ground handling folks along the way. While we got great service from many ground handlers, Jose Gallardo and Julio Sopik of Aerocardal in Chile deserve special mention. Both of them worked very hard to get all the permits and resources (fuel) arranged for the Antarctic flight. This was way outside their normal job, but they got it done.

Andy Maag acted as our "official observer" for Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Andy's job was to ensure the GPS position logging data we collected during the flight to document our route was accurate and verified. Like so many folks helping us out, this was an unusual request for Andy and well outside the norm for his observer duties. But, Andy made it work and assured we were doing all the correct things to meet the FAI requirements for the Polar Circumnavigation Diploma.

Art Greenfield of National Aeronautic Association is the US intermediary with FAI and helped us understand the rules and kept us on-track toward meeting the FAI requirements.

Upon our returned to Austin on January 25, a wonderful group of friends greeted us and hosted a very speical dinner which the whole crew enjoyed very much. At the official conclusion of the trip in Jackson Hole, our dear friends Scott and Kacy welcomed all of us into their home for two days of decompressing. good food, and good company.

Of course, no one put more effort into this trip than my fellow co-captains, Josh Marvil, Giuseppe Caltabiano, and Jerry Seckler. Josh and Giuseppe completed the entire flight and spent untold hours in the year leading up to the flight taking the lead on specific and very important pieces of the permitting process.  In addition to helping keep us safe in the air, Josh took the lead with the EPA and NSF approvals while Giuseppe worked with our handlers in Chile to obtain the permits and support we needed for the Antarctic flight. Plus, anyone who is willing to spend 144 hours in a plane and more than six weeks on the road with me deserves a medal of honor! While Jerry was not able to complete the entire flight with us, his 50 years of aviation experience was very important to our completing the very complex Antarctic flight safely.

And finally, the support of the spouses of the flight crew was essential to this trip. While Jamie and Madelyn could not join us, their support back home while Giuseppe and Jerry spent weeks on the road pursuing this crazy adventure were critical. The ever adventurous Becky completed the entire flight with us making life for Josh a lot easier and helping keep the pilots fed and hydrated in flight.

For me, there was no support more important than that of my wonderful partner in life, Carolyn. While not everything about this journey was comfortable or fascinating to her, she supported me 100% every step of the way. Without her backing, none of this would have happened. It was an incredibly generous expression of love for which I will always be thankful.

Well, that is a wrap on the trip and this blog. I hope a few folks have enjoyed following along for bits-and-pieces of the journey. The trip and writing this journal (which we will have converted into a hardback book) have been one of the high points of my life. The technical challenge of the trip, the fantastic scenes of remote corners of this earth, and the camaraderie of my travelling and flying companions was simply wonderful.

Until the next adventure...signing-off.