The final section of the trip was the one I had always dreamed about the most, and perhaps the most challenging. These days, most small aircraft choose to fly around the Pacific rim making shorter hops through Japan, Russia, and into Alaska – but to me, a round-the-world flight like this doesn’t really count unless you do the Pacific islands.
This section of the trip was originally set to start in April 2020, with my friend Juvy lined up to come and fly with me from New Zealand to Hawaii, when the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and international travel was abruptly shut down. The Pacific nations slammed their borders shut one by one, and New Zealand went into lock-down and banned non-citizens from entering the country. Planey was parked up in Auckland at the Warbirds hangar, and luckily my contacts at Oceania Aviation were able to carry out the annual inspection (now required as the end of the trip would be pushed out), and also to preserve the engine for medium-term inactivity, hopefully preventing internal corrosion.
With the pandemic dragging on, additional sections of flight around New Zealand and Australia were added (now sections 6 and 7 of the trip), and the Pacific crossing waited in the wings for international travel to be allowed again…
The flight is expected to continue some time in 2021.