I am currently 3 legs into a west bound circumnavigation in a Cirrus SR22. While waiting for the ferry tanks to be installed in my plane I have been contemplating the other Cirrus’s that have made circumnavigations.
Actually, small airplanes making circumnavigations is a pretty interesting subject and loaded with all kinds of interesting history. The only real resource for this is the website www.earthrounders.com where Claude Meunier currently presides over the site, record keeping and the volumes of valuable information for making a circumnavigation flight. Earth Rounders currently document 225 circumnavigations by more than 1 pilot and 122 solo circumnavigations
in single engine aircraft.
The range of single engine airplanes that have made circumnavigations is amazing; Long EZ’s, RV’s, a Sterman, “a Searey!” unbelievable. Of course Mooney’s, Bonanzas, Pipers, several Cessna 182’s and all kinds of homebuilts have made the trip. Check out Gordillo Miguel’s website www.skypolars.com who completed a polar circumnavigation and actually crossed the entire continent of Antarctica in his RV8. Recently the Cirrus has become the plane of choice. In order to consider the Cirrus’s that have made this flight you really need to start at the beginning. In 1924 a US Army team of 4 men and two aircraft actually completed a west bound circumnavigation but unfortunately one aircraft crashed in Alaska and the other sank North of Scotland.
The next aviators up were Wiley Post and Harold Gatty who in 1931 successfully completed an east bound circumnavigation in the Winnie Mae. Amazingly they completed the flight in 8 days! Apparently Wiley Post enjoyed the experience so much that he flew another circumnavigation in 1933, this time solo. Although a record, Wiley flew a northernly route of only 15,000 miles which today would not qualify for the coveted FAI Circumnavigation Diploma. The diploma requires that the flight be a minimum of 27,000 kilometers/16,777 miles. Regardless of this it was quite an
accomplishment in 1933.
Incredibly, the next airplanes of record were a flight of two Piper PA12’s who made an east bound circumnavigation in 1947. It took 122 days.
In 1964 Geraldine Mock became the first women to make a circumnavigation in her Cessna 180 “The Spirit of Columbus”. That Cessna 180 currently hangs in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at the Washington Dulles Airport. She made this flight east bound in 29 days. That’s an average of around 758 miles per day for 29 consecutive days. Considering weather, mechanicals, rest, etc. that’s pretty amazing.
What’s interesting now is that 8 other ladies follow Geraldine in circumnavigations. Sheila Scott goes twice around in her Comanche 260 G-ATOY and then trades it for an Aztec, keeps the numbers G-ATOY and does a polar circumnavigation. At this point in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s circumnavigations have almost become a women’s sport.
You have to get all the way to 2005 until you find two Germans; Henkel Marrk and Armin Stief who made an east bound trip in a US Registered SR22.
They were then followed by Australian Ryan Campell who at the age of 19 became the youngest person to fly an aircraft solo around the world. He flew a Cirrus SR22.
Next Cirrus up: Lachlan Smart. Another Australian who at age 18 breaks Ryan’s record of being the youngest person to fly an aircraft around the world. Lachlan’s plane of choice for his record attempt, a Cirrus SR22. So think about this.; at one point in 2016 we had three Cirrus’s that have flown around the world, two of which were flown solo by teenagers. No US pilots on the books at this point.
Now comes COPA member Joe McMillen, who also in 2016 makes an east bound flight and breaks major ground by documenting almost everything possible: TAS, GS, headings, routes, dollars spent, fuel burn, fuel cost and even how the fuel was delivered, flight planning, weather, handling, hotels, on and on. So much info that you have to log into dropbox just to download it all. I have to thank Joe for inspiring me because after reading through all the information that he provided
it put me over the edge of making a commitment to go. We are now at number 4 Cirrus to circumnavigate.
Next up, the China Chapter of AOPA enters the sport by offering up the equivalent of $150,000.00 USD to the first Chinese women to fly around the world. Julie Wang a flight instructor from Stuart, FL, but Chinese by birth, takes the challenge in a Cirrus SR22 and completes a west bound circumnavigation to claim the prize money. In doing so, she actually flies into Guangdong, China during their annual airshow where they charge her a $6,000.00 landing fee!
The last Cirrus to circumnavigate is Nigerian Lola Odujinrin. This is an amazing story of a Nigeria guy who’s love for flying and adventure drives him to figure out how to get hold of a Cirrus, raise the necessary funds and fly himself around the world for the purposes of advancing technology and leadership in Africa.
That’s six Cirrus’s that I can find record of that have flown circumnavigations. My flight is not a record attempt. I will not be the first of any particular category. You could make the case that at age 66 I would be the oldest person to fly a Cirrus around the world but it’s a pretty weak claim given that Canadian Fred Lasby flew his Comanche around the world at age 83! If successful, I will be the number 7 Cirrus to circumnavigate, the 123rd solo flight and possibly
qualify for west bound badge number 15 from the Federation Aeronautique International who issues a Circumnavigation Diploma.
I would appreciate any information that anyone might have regarding this subject or corrections to the facts that I have stated.
John R. Bone