Pilot and author Robert DeLaurentis departed from California’s Gillespie Field (SEE) last Saturday on a six-month venture to fly from the South Pole to the North Pole in a modified 1983 Turbo Commander 900 (690D). The route is expected to cover approximately 26,000 NM with stops in more than 20 countries before returning to San Diego International Airport (SAN) in May 2020. The stated goal of the trip is to promote general aviation, raise money for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, and “connect all of humanity.”
The aircraft, named Citizen of the World, has been outfitted with Honeywell TPE331 engines, long-range fuel tanks that increase the aircraft’s range to 5000 NM, custom MT 5-bladed composite propellers, Avidyne’s IFD 550/440, RVSM equipment and HF radio. It will also be carrying a scientific experiment from the University of California, Santa Barbara and NASA. DeLaurentis has said he hopes to use the aircraft as a mobile STEM lab for students after his return.
The trip is being sponsored by more than 90 organizations, companies and individuals including Erik Lindbergh, Gulfstream Aerospace, Honeywell, Iridium Satellite Communications, Jeppesen and the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2015, DeLaurentis successfully circumnavigated the globe in a Piper Malibu Mirage. In addition to being an instrument and multi-engine rated commercial pilot, he is a former U.S. Navy officer and author of two books, “Flying Thru Life” and “Zen Pilot.”