Adrian Eichhorn has completed his overflight of the North Pole and is on his way south along the  west coast of North America to Portland, the terminus of the flight. Eichhorn and Shinji Maeda took off together in nearly identical V-tail Bonanzas from Manassas, Virginia, on May 6 and flew together to Iceland via Maine and Newfoundland. After an overnight stay in Reykjavik, the two parted ways with Maeda eastbound on a solo circumnavigation as Eichhorn went north to head to the top of the world. After crossing the pole, Eichhorn headed for Fairbanks where he landed after a 20-hour flight.

Maeda got a lot of tips from Eichhorn on completing his trip. Eichhorn did a similar circumnavigation in 2016 and has been a mentor to Maeda, who has only one eye. He lost an eye in a motorcycle accident as a teen and was unable to become a pilot in his native Japan. He went to the U.S. to study at Embry-Riddle for a non-flying aviation career but an instructor at the Arizona campus urged him to challenge the medical. He was granted a statement of demonstrated ability and never looked back. He’s now a CFI in Washington State. The circumnavigation is a bid to encourage others with manageable disabilities to persevere in their dreams. Among his stops is Japan where he hopes to encourage authorities to revisit their rigid policies on medical standards. On Sunday he made it to Greece.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Tailwinds all the way! But I hope they don’t violate Shinji for breaking the national regs when he stops in Japan.

  2. Congrats to both pilots but especially to Shinji, for his inspiring determination to meet a goal in spite of significant obstacles. Chris, I would think that the Japanese aviation authorities would simply accept Shinji’s status as a licensed US pilot and that would qualify him to legally fly in his native land — otherwise they would be opening themselves up to some seriously nasty PR. Fly safe Shinji and Adrian!