On Saturday, June 29, Ryan Campbell, of Merimbula will leave Merimbula Airport at lunchtime in a bid to be the youngest person to fly solo around the world.
The journey, dubbed ‘Teen World Flight’, which is expected to take about two and a half months, will see Ryan land at 28 destinations, in 14 countries, in five continents and travel 24,500 nautical miles.
Ryan, 19, will be the youngest person so far to attempt the solo flight. Earlier this month Jack Weigand, a 20-year-old from California made a bid to become the youngest pilot to circumnavigate the globe solo but Ryan is hoping to trump his efforts.
The trip which will cost in the region of $250,000 has been supported with sponsorship from both large corporations and local companies, and also assistance from passionate private aviator, Dick Smith. Ryan said that there had been a lot of sponsors from the Frogs Hollow Aero Club.
Telstra has also come to the party, all of which helps to pay for the hire of the high performance Cirrus SR22 light aircraft. Normally a four-seater aircraft, the Cirrus has been turned into a two-seater for the world flight so that additional fuel can be carried in a 160 bladder tank; this is in addition to the 92 gallon main tank on the aircraft.
Ryan said: “Along with the added support of my instructor Alan Lindsay, Merimbula Air Services owner and my uncle Andy Campbell, my parents, several highly experienced airline pilots, current and former around the world pilots, family and friends, we are undertaking this challenge together with the best basis of knowledge and experience available.”
Ryan has been passionate about flying since he was six and took his first solo flight on his 15th birthday, the first day he could legally fly by himself.
The circumnavigation has been two years in the planning and the success of Ryan’s attempt, which he hopes will get him into the Guinness Book of Records, will owe much to his efforts prior to take-off to carefully plan each leg of the journey.
Dick Smith is safety advisor for the world flight and Ryan paid tribute to his expertise. He said that Mr Smith’s attitude of meticulous planning and safety consciousness had been adopted into his plan of action. “It is invaluable to have a role model such as Dick Smith supporting my endeavour as the flight’s safety advisor.”
Ryan said: “Logistics, and particularly fuel is one of the big things. We’ve had to ship fuel to a few different islands. Weather is a big thing and fuel management.”
Ryan has to plan each section to ensure that he has sufficient fuel and enough in case of emergency divisions too.
Entry into each new country will require customs and immigration clearance at a major airport. He also had to get visas to accompany his entry too in some countries.
But there will be little time to enjoy the destinations. “It will be non-stop. Most of my time will be in planning, routine maintenance and getting ready to go on the next leg.”
While Ryan will leave from Merimbula, the first official leg is from Wollongong to Norfolk Island. The legs of the journey vary between 20 minutes and 14 hours at the longest but on average are between eight and nine hours.
Ryan is aware that on a solo flight, fatigue can be a major issue and he knows that he will face some challenges in landing in some countries.
“The last third of the journey will be the most challenging, Egypt, Oman, Sri Lanka and Indonesia,” Ryan said.
They are countries which may not be so familiar with the concept of a round the world flight and may pose the most security risks both for Ryan and for his precious Cirrus.
He knows too that while English may be the official language of international aviation, there will be countries where the home language is spoken but he is confident that once he announces himself over the radio, air traffic control and other pilots in the area will speak in English.
Everyday requires an individual equipment list and that of course must include water and in some countries that means bottled water.
If all goes to plan, Ryan will be back in Wollongong on September 7 and home in Merimbula the following day.
In the meantime, as he admits: “It’s going to be an experience!”
Campbell’s flight also aims to raise funds for Dare 2 Dream, a collaboration between Teen World Flight and World Youth International to fund scholarships for young Australians to embark on overseas volunteering missions. The goal is $50,000 for 10 scholarships.
The News Weekly will be following Ryan’s progress during his world circumnavigation and you can follow his story online at www.merimbulanewsonline.com.au