Pilot On Circumnavigation Holiday
Flying around the world solo in a light single is a challenge in anyone's books but Calle Hedberg says it's also a great way to relax. The South African IT consultant has taken an eight-month break from work to make the westward trek that is planned to end in February back in his hometown of Cape Town. But unlike most of the just 95 solo/single earthrounders that have preceded him, Hedberg doesn't have a detailed plan or itinerary for his trip. "This is my first holiday in 15 years," he told AVweb in an interview in Kelowna, British Columbia, where he paused for a week to earn a float endorsement. "And I'm just having a great time." After Kelowna, Hedberg headed to Reno for the National Championship Air Races and then he plans to head north again to Alaska for a bush flying course. After that, he's not sure and it will depend mainly on the weather, opportunity and how the spirit moves him.
He has narrowed the crossing of the Pacific to three basic options. He'll either go from California via Hawaii or South America to either Easter Island or the Galapagos Islands. Although the itinerary is loose, the pre-planning was meticulous and even included the choice of aircraft. Hedberg had a Ravin 500 kit aircraft built for him ("There is no 51 percent rule in South Africa," he said) because of its power and range. The aircraft will carry enough fuel in its stock tanks to fly 2,600 nautical miles and a portable tank he can hook up in the back seat will push that to 3,200 nm. He flew 17 hours nonstop on a test flight before embarking on the trip. "The plane has performed flawlessly. I'm very happy with it," he said. He carries a liferaft and survival gear, an HF radio and satellite phone. He said that everywhere he has landed so far he's been offered places to stay and interesting side trips that have added to the experience. His progress can be followed on his Facebook page.