USA – Coast to Coast

This was the trip that started it all; the trans-continental journey in a Cessna 172 from Florida to California and back again. This flight was something I had been dreaming about since training for my Private Pilot’s Licence in Florida.

Over five weeks in autumn 2007 we meandered across the centre of the USA to the West Coast, and back again through the southern states, visiting cities, national parks, and anything else that took our fancy. With camping gear in the back of the aircraft, anywhere we ended up could become home for a night and with no set itinerary it was a true adventure.

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USA – Exploring the Southwest

Everywhere we went during the USA Coast to Coast trip had astounded us, but nowhere more so than the American Southwest. There was such a wealth of exploring to be done there, with countless tiny scenic airports and some of the country’s most dramatic landscapes, that we felt we had barely scratched the surface. So in the autumn of 2009 we returned to Los Angeles, and rented an aircraft out of Camarillo to further explore the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

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Tunisia – African Desert

Having gained my Instrument Rating and Commercial Licence in the USA in Spring 2010, I was keen to put my new skills to use on another long trip. An initial plan of visiting Iceland was made unfeasible by bureaucratic regulations, and so we decided to travel south instead. An initial idea to visit the south of France soon became a victim of “scope creep” and before we knew it we had set our sights on the Sahara desert.

Luckily, my flying club in Rotterdam had just the aircraft for the job; a diesel engined Diamond DA40. Burning jet fuel instead of AvGas, this would be an essential aircraft in regions where more typical light aircraft fuel was not available!

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Egypt – Pyramids and Tombs

In 2011 I had contact with a gentleman in his 80s who owned a Maule MXT-7-160. A friend of his, now deceased, used to fly airliners through Africa in the 50s and had seen what he was sure was a Spitfire fighter aircraft downed in the Sahara desert in Northern Sudan. He had plotted the location of this aircraft very carefully, but had never had the chance to go and search for it before his death; a previous attempt had been thwarted in Egypt by bureaucracy and paperwork.

The owner of the Maule wished to take his aircraft to Northern Sudan and search for this downed Spitfire. However, at his age he did not have the stamina anymore to do it alone, and asked if I would be willing to fly the aircraft to Luxor in Egypt where he would join me by commercial airline, and we would then head into Sudan. Together with travelling companions Juan, and my Aunt Annie, we set off across Europe headed for Egypt!

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USA – California

As exciting as it was to fly across Europe to Egypt earlier in the year, nothing can compare with the simplicity and joy of flying in the USA. With some more holiday time available at work to be used up before the end of the year, I decided to head back out to California for a couple of weeks and rent a C172RG to explore some new locations that I hadn’t made it to yet. A friend of mine from West Virginia joined me for part of the journey, but much of it was my first solo trip in the USA.

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USA – Pacific Northwest

By now I had travelled widely across the USA, but still had no experience of the Pacific Northwest states. In 2012 I decided it was time to change this, and together with travelling companions Keiko and Rowan (my brother) we set out from Los Angeles in a Cessna 182 RG to explore Idaho, Montana, Washington and Orgeon; as well as revisiting some favourite destinations from states further south.

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Africa – Flight for Every Mother

In Spring 2013 I started corresponding with an OB/GYN surgeon in the UK who was organising a medical mission through Africa. She wanted to visit 25+ countries, all throughout the continent, as part of a charity mission around combating maternal mortality. The most practical way to do this would be by light aircraft. I initially became involved to assist with aircraft selection and share some of my experience flying in Africa, which was very limited to date, but still more than most private pilots!

It wasn’t long before I became involved in route planning, and was then asked to come along on the flight itself as lead pilot (Dr Webster had a Private licence, but much more limited experience, and would anyway want to be concentrating on the medical side of things). On the first of August 2013 we set off on a four month flight from London to Cape Town dealing with mechanical issues, weather, bureaucracy, but in constant awe of all that the incredible African continent has to offer.

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USA – Reno Air Races

One of the essential places to visit as a pilot in the USA is Reno Stead airport, home of the Reno air races. It goes without saying that one should visit during air race week; the rest of the time it’s relatively unremarkable. For the full experience, it’s essential to fly there; although you have to fly into nearby airports as the field itself is closed to all apart from air race traffic during race week. My friend Juvy, a student pilot, and I set out from Pittsburgh to fly to California and then visit Reno for the racing on our way back home. 10 days took us across the centre of the country towards the Southwest, before heading back through the northern states only to come to a crashing halt at our home airport on the return with landing gear failure.

Trip report coming soon.

USA – Houston to San Diego

In 2017, my friend Sophia (Dr Webster, of the “Flight for Every Mother” in 2013) came to visit me in Houston. She was attending a medical conference in San Diego. Instead of just hanging around Houston we decided it would be more fun to do a bit of a road trip to San Diego together. Naturally, the ideal vehicle for this “road trip” would be the Cessna 172! We set out from Houston late on a Tuesday evening, rushed across Texas, and then settled into some sightseeing days across the south west.

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Canada and Alaska – Arctic Flight

Having visited 48 states by air, the next obvious step was to visit the largest of them all, Alaska. The distances involved meant that it would only really make sense to dedicate plenty of time, and I managed to set aside two periods of three weeks each for the adventure. The first half covered the flight across the US, through British Columbia, and around southeast Alaska; the second saw us exploring Kodiak, Anchorage and Fairbanks, continuing all around the coastline of Alaska, and then cutting across Canada to make a run north to the most northerly civilian airport we could find, just 600 nautical miles from the North Pole.

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Round the World

The culmination of 14 years of flying experience, the flight around the world is really the most challenging flight a pilot of light general aviation aircraft can do. In May 2019 I set out from Zelienople Airport, north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, and headed north east towards the Atlantic, at the start of a year-long adventure that would bring me all the way back to my starting point.

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