Why did you want to fly all around the world? – Zarah
Great question Zarah! As I grew up I found a passion for showing that young people can do anything, if you have a goal you need to go for it. So this is my way of showing young people that you CAN achieve your dreams!
Are you scared? – Indi
Not scared Indi, but definitely nervous at times. I am very confident in my skill as a pilot and that I have done all the planning I needed to. But there have been some very long flights, over a lot of water so far and I was a little nervous before those. But otherwise it has been a very fun adventure
What does it feel like being all alone? – Zarah
In the aeroplane I’m usually so busy that I don’t feel too lonely even when I am so far away! Sometimes when I’m on the ground I do feel a little lonely but then I remember all my friends and family are only a phone call away.
How long have you wanted to do this trip? – Mikayla
Three years ago in 2013 I saw a news story on a young Australian named Ryan Campbell who broke this record. Ever since that day, I knew I wanted to do this trip. Fortunately Ryan and I are now friends and he has been a supporter of mine during my preparation.
What food do you take on the plane with you? – Amber
Lots of little snacks Amber! It’s like having an endless morning tea break. I take some special muesli bars that are easy to store and give me enough energy to keep going. Sometimes the friends I make around the world give me some sandwiches. I don’t eat many lollies or chocolates, as they don’t give me enough sustained energy. There is also lots of water in the plane with me.
Have you seen any well-known monuments? – Riley
So far I have seen a few Riley. While I was in America I flew over the Grand Canyon, Mississippi River and Niagara Falls. In a few days I will fly over the white cliffs of Dover too, which are in the United Kingdom.
Have you had to do any repairs? – Niko
There have been a few repairs Niko, but fortunately they were all planned! My plane is like your mum or dad’s car and needs to be serviced by a mechanic from time to time. So I have planned service stops all around the world to make sure my plane is working the best it can be!
What kind of fuel do you put in your plane? – Niko
We use a special fuel called Avgas, which is made especially for planes like mine. It’s different to what the big passenger planes, which use jet fuel because they are powered by a different kind of engine to mine.
Is it fun going around the world? – Kyla
Kyla this trip has been so much fun! I have met lots of very nice people, been to some very cool countries and have been able to show people that dreams can really come true!
Do you get a sore backside sitting for so long? – Brooklyn
Yes! Lucky for me, my dad helped me put some seat covers in my plane before I left, which makes it a little more comfortable!
Do you listen to music on the plane? What music do you like? – Boyd
I do listen to music in the plane sometimes (when I’m not too busy doing other jobs!) and I have a bit of a unique taste in music. I love listening to jazz and the ‘Crooner’ type songs, like Michael Bublé.
How fast does your plane go? – Riley
For a little aeroplane with one engine it is actually quite quick! I usually sit around 160 knots, which is about 300km/h!
Where is your favourite place you’ve stopped at so far? – Riley
I stayed at a place called ‘The Hangar Hotel’ in Texas, which was very very cool. But nothing beats landing in the UK and having family waiting for you. That was very special.
I have a bear that wears pyjamas; it’s called ‘Pyjama Teddy’. Why did you call your bear Freddy? – Maddie
What a lucky Teddy, he gets to wear pyjamas all day! My bear is named Freddy because it rhymes with Teddy, and I think he looks a bit like a Freddy too!
A 72-year family connection with Biggin Hill Airport will come full circle today when 18-year-old Lachlan Smart touches down on the airstrip in Bromley.
Geographically half way through his quest to become the youngest person in history to fly around the world solo, in a single engine aircraft, Smart is on target to eclipse the current record set by American Matt Guthmiller in 2014 to the tune of 12 months.
It’s been an audacious flight so far for the teenager from the Australian middleclass, who spent two and a half years turning his aviation dream into a reality.
After flying over icons like the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi River and Niagara Falls, through island paradises’ including Fiji, Pago Pago and Santa Maria (where he will depart from today), Smart will today make his way to the United Kingdom.
Home turf on the Sunshine Coast aside, Biggin Hill carries the most significance for Smart on this journey. It’s the place where both his great-grandfathers flew out of during World War II; it’s where aviation in his family began.
When Smart puts his wheels on the deck today it will have been 72 years, 8 months, 2 days since his maternal great grandfather Ray Bavington was last recorded as departing from the airfield. While Bavington’s movements in and out of Bromley since that date haven’t yet been confirmed, it is known Bavington flew in the D-Day landings of WWII, taking part in a piece of history as a GA support pilot.
There is a sweet irony that while Bavington, as well as Smart’s paternal great grandfather Alan Dawkins, both flew in this airspace during a time of unrest, Smart will arrive in a time of peace to spread a message of youth achievement. It’s this message of age being no more than a number that shouldn’t limit aspiration that is the motivation for this young Aussie to take on such a gigantic task.
With an infectious sense of adventure, coupled with equal amounts of maturity, Smart has already become the youngest person ever fly over the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean’s solo during this trip, the latter occurring less than 48 hours ago when he landed in Santa Maria after the eleventh leg of his world flight.
There is little doubt surrounding Smart’s ability as a pilot, both during and in preparation for flight. His skill was exemplified prior to his crossing of the Pacific Ocean two weeks ago, when the 18-year-old delayed his flight from Hawaii to California due to easing, yet still concerning winds caused by Hurricane Blas.
So far Wings Around the World has seen Smart travel from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia to Nadi, Fiji, Pago Pago in American Samoa, with an overnight stop in Kiribati, before flying to Hawaii. The next handful of legs of his flight saw him track north through the USA to Canada, before flying to Santa Maria.
Smart will have an 11-day stopover in the UK to have his aircraft serviced, spend time with family and explore his family’s aviation history. His world flight will resume on Saturday August 6 when he flies to Cannes, France.
To bring it back to pilot speak, spending some time in the USA was a great change from flying over water and only spotting land on the horizon near the end of the day. It has also been easy to work with the controllers here who make life so easy for a pilot.
From a technology standpoint, there is radar coverage almost everywhere, they always have a pretty good idea of where you are and can provide handy information like weather updates and terrain ahead of you. For those following my flight via radar, you know exactly what I am talking about. These assets are great for when you need critical information such as during the following exchange:
“Memphis Centre, VH-IBC, Is this the Mississippi River below me?” To which I got the reply “Yes sir, the miigghhttyyy Mississippi”
…. I love the USA nationalism and their accents.
The journey leaving California was simple and delightful. Not having to use the ferry tank nor the HF radio (you can read about those in my previous blogs here and here), the flight became a ‘normal’ flight again and I got to just sit and enjoy the scenery (yay, I have scenery again). I mean, flying over water is beautiful too, but after 13 hours of “Hey look… water. Hey look at that too… more water,” the novelty can wear off.
The flight from California was only around 3 hours and I got to land in a pretty cool place too, Las Vegas, where it was a toasty 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius)
Despite my initial joy at being back over land and not needing ferry tanks, the leg from Las Vegas to Texas was not as enjoyable as I had anticipated.
I needed to take off carefully from Vegas due to a high-density altitude and the high temperature.
EDIT NOTE: On a hot and humid day, an aircraft will accelerate more slowly down a runway and needs to move faster to attain the same lift as the normal expected performance. The aircraft will also climb at a slower rate. The short of it: A pilot needs to account for these factors and pay close attention for a safe departure in high-density altitude.
After a successful take off I climbed to 9500 feet and made my way out to see the Grand Canyon. Following the slow climb out due of Vegas it was quite nice to get to altitude and cruise along.
A photo posted by Wings Around the World (@watw2016) on
From there the first of my ‘monuments’ was ahead of me. Yes I had already flown over the outstanding Pacific Ocean, but flying over the Grand Canyon was incredible, and those who watched the video on our Facebook page will agree to that.
From there however the flight wasn’t the fairytale every pilot hopes for on each flight. The heat made it incredibly bumpy and at times difficult to create enough lift to stay in the air due to downdrafts and a high-density altitude. I had to put the aircraft in a climb configuration to maintain altitude a couple of times and watch the cylinder head temperature very closely to make sure the engine stayed cool enough.
Landing in Fredericksburg was a relief and I really enjoyed my stay there. I kind of wish I had some more time there. The Hangar Hotel was awesome to stay in and I loved the WW2 theming…and of course being able to park my plane outside my room!
The next day I roared into the skies for a beautiful flight up to Nashville, Tennessee. This time the flying was smooth as silk and it was a bit cooler as I headed into the lush green central mid-eastern states.
Crossing the Mississippi was very cool and the controllers weren’t too busy at the time so we’re up for some questions and a chat. After landing in Smyrna airport (around 30 minutes drive from Nashville), the tower controller asked where the plane was from, and with a feeling of satisfaction I told him that I had flown this all the way from Australia. It is amazing to look back and see how far I have really come, but I’m staying focused, as it is still a long way to go until I’m home.
From Nashville I made my way to Niagara Falls, the last stop on the USA leg of this trip. It was a nice short flight to a cooler area. My next flight today (Friday July 22 – landing on Saturday July 23 in Australian time) saw me fly over Niagara Falls, (so watch for the video!) en route to St. John’s in Canada, where I landed not long ago!
As always, if there is anything more you would like to know, send a question and one of the team or I will get back to you!
A visit to Niagara Falls wasn’t all that was on the menu for Lachie in the past few days. On Wednesday, he attended a presentation at city hall, where he was presented with the keys to the city. Not only that, but Mayor Paul Dyster also named July 20, 2016 as Wings Around the World Day!
You can also read the full proclamation of Wings Around the World day below, with images of the key to the city, and official proclamation also below.
Office of the Mayor – City of Niagara Falls, New York
WHEREAS, it is important to recognize those who with vision and persistence attempt to accomplish record breaking feats, inspiring others to believe and fulfil dreams; and
WHEREAS,18 yr. old Lachlan Smart, of Australia, founded the Wings Around the World organization, which is the platform for this venture of flying around the world solo, in a single engine aircraft; and
WHEREAS,in June 2016, Lachlan Smart departed from the East coast of Australia and is planning to travel around the globe in the span of ten weeks to cover 24,000 nautical miles including 26 stops in 20 countries on five continents; and
WHEREAS,Lachlan Smart is the youngest person in history to attempt to circumnavigate the earth in a single engine aircraft; and
WHEREAS, the mission of Lachlan Smart and Wings Around the World is to send the message to people, especially the youth that setting goals and achieving dreams are possible, no matter how big or small, and that age, size and circumstance are not limiting factors, but can be worthwhile challenges to be met; and
WHEREAS, Lachlan Smart will be stopping in Niagara Falls, NY on July 19th—21st, before he departs from Toronto, ON and continues his quest.
Now therefore be it resolved, that I, Paul Dyster, as Mayor of the City of Niagara Falls, NY do hereby recognize Lachlan Smart for his vision and courage as he circumnavigates our earth and inspires the youth and all ages to set goals and follow dreams. I proclaim July 20, 2016 as Wings Around the World Day, in the City of Niagara Falls, NY in honor of this brave young man, and encourage our youth to follow Lachlan’s progress and hold onto the hope and faith in order to cultivate our own new dreams.
GIVEN, under my hand and the seal of the City of Niagara Falls this 20th Day of July, 2016
The irritating sound of my alarm bursts through the silence of a nice summer’s night in Hawaii to tell me the time has come to face my biggest challenge to date on the Wings Around the World journey.
It’s 12:45am, I only had 3 and a half hours of broken sleep and it was already time to get up, pack up my equipment and head to the airport. This may be the journey of a lifetime, but in the early hours of the morning the struggle is real
As I waited for my handler Candicelee from Air Service Hawaii, I had a last chat to the weather briefing office to make sure the forecasts hadn’t changed in the last 5 hours, and with all being ok I set off for the airport. I felt confidently nervous.
Two days prior we (my team and I) had delayed the trip across to California by 24 hours due to weather not being favourable with a hurricane to the south of my flight path. With the extra time up my sleeve I had managed to get some rest, but that also came with an extra 24 hours for my nerves to build up.
In the car with Candicelee it was very quiet as I contemplated what lay ahead of me, and what challenges I might face. I arrived at the airport at 2am, preflighted the aeroplane, packed the last of my bags, cleared the Department Of Agriculture check and carefully hopped in the Cirrus via the front of the wing. With a lot of fuel on board in my ferry tank, the plane was quite tail heavy (within the limits of what is approved) and had I put the same amount of pressure on the step that I normally did, the plane would tip towards the tail. Everything was measured to the nth degree, including my movements.
Starting the engine up, I received my clearance from Honolulu that I was cleared to fly to Hollister, California via my flight planned route at 9000 feet, so with that I began the take off roll and lifted into the pitch black night.
There were a few clouds around so it was very dark at take off, almost like flying in space, so I watched my instruments like a hawk and climbed steadily by those. Upon leaving VHF range I transitioned to the HF radio and began talking to San Francisco. It was a challenging and a very grueling first 3 hours as I was hand flying the aircraft purely by instruments, while trying to burp the tank and manage communications, fuel transfers, engine monitoring and more. Being very tired I decided some food was required to keep me awake so I burst out one of my precious muesli bars that took walking through 3 shops to find… but they were worth it.
After dawn broke, and the aircraft became lighter as fuel was burnt I transitioned from the hectic start of the flight to a more relaxed cruise. The next 10 hours felt like a lifetime and upon reaching the point of no return I was both nervous and excited. Nervous because it meant I had to get this right or go for a Pacific cruise in my life raft, but excited because it meant that one way or another, I was going to have finished this challenging leg of the journey soon and couldn’t turn back.
Around the 9-10 hour mark I was certainly ready to stretch the legs and thought surely this must be nearly over…Nope, there were 4 hours remaining. So I settled in and kept going with the routine I have come to know so well. I’ll give you a quick run down of my hourly workflow.
00:00 begin fuel transfer
00:15 position report with San Francisco
00:25 turn off fuel pumps and close valve
00:30 fill in the engine trend monitoring sheet and confirm fuel remaining is sufficient
00:40 wait until the hour is up to start again and monitor systems
By the time I reached the Californian coast line I thought I could just about kiss the ground. I also had figured out that my propeller had spun around almost 2.1 million times since I had taken off that morning. I guess long times on your own in a confined space do have an effect on you…
Overall it was a challenging, but very rewarding flight and certainly a relief to be over land again!
I’m looking forward to flying through the mainland US and enjoying some of the very exciting sights that I will get to see in the coming weeks! I’ll keep you updated and as usual, throw any question you might have in the comments.
Lachlan Smart will make his way to the country music capital of the world on Sunday, when he touches down in Nashville, Tennessee, expanding his trip from 24 to 25 stops in the process.
The decision to add a stop in Nashville has been planned over the past week as a means to break up what would have been another lengthy flight from Fredericksburg, Texas to Niagara Falls, New York. The change ensures that Smart maintains astute practice of taking preventative fatigue measures wherever possible throughout his trip.
While safety is at the core of the decision, the chance to visit Nashville is also an opportunity to stop at a major USA city and gives the Sunshine Coast teenager a key opportunity to spread his message that age is just a number and should not limit aspiration.
Even with the extra stop, and a one-day delay to his long leg from Hawaii to California earlier in the week due to Hurricane Blas, Smart will stay on schedule. He’ll do this by shortening his stay in both Las Vegas and Fredericksburg, before making a two-night stop in Nashville in order to arrive at Niagara Falls on schedule.
In the immediate future, Smart will have another day in Las Vegas before making his way to Fredericksburg, via the Grand Canyon, which includes a unique stop at the ‘Hangar Hotel’ (see it here!), where Smart will be able to park his plane right next to the iconic building.
Sunshine Coast teenager Lachlan Smart has landed safely in Hollister, California following an epic flight of over 13 hours from Hilo, Hawaii, the longest leg of his round the world flight.
The marathon flight had been originally been scheduled to take place on Monday July 11 (July 11-12 in Australia), but with winds caused by an easing Hurricane Blas still causing concern, Smart exemplified his maturity and ability as a pilot to make the safety conscious decision to delay the flight 24 hours.
After a sporadic night’s sleep, Smart departed Hilo at 2:30am local time (10:30pm AEST, July 12), landing in Hollister just after 6.45pm local time (11:45am AEST). Exhausted, he described the first two hours of his flight as a difficult period, before saying that the crossing to North America went much better than he had anticipated.
“I tried to get to sleep early before this flight, but it took a while and it was broken sleep the whole time. I wasn’t nervous about the flight itself, I just knew it was a significant day of this trip,” Smart said.
“The first two hours of the flight were very challenging. Once I was past the runway lights on take off, it was pitch black. I imagine it was a little bit like being in space. In those first couple of hours I was flying the aircraft manually due to the weight on board with extra fuel. The amount of concentration needed was very high and it was tiring.
“Once I pushed through that challenge the flight was great, really it was smooth sailing and for the last 90 minutes in the air I had a tailwind, which pushed me ahead of schedule.”
Unlike the other leg’s of his round-the-world flight, the trip from Hilo to Hollister also saw Smart cross an estimated ‘point of no return’, a last point in the flight route where he would still be able to safely return to land in Hawaii, or be sure he had enough fuel to reach California. With favourable conditions, Smart said it was an easy decision to continue to his destination.
“I was past the toughest part of the flight by the point of no return, and really the decision was easy. At that point I was looking like having five hours or more of fuel in reserve by the time I reached Hollister, so I was comfortable with my decision to continue the flight.”
Smart will now spend two nights in Hollister before continuing on to Las Vegas as he makes his way north through the USA.
I was on my way to Christmas Island. After two relatively trouble free flights, my flight from Pago Pago was all action from the word go. As I climbed into the air from Pago Pago, communications were weak and I found I was constantly battling the radios to try and get a signal. In addition to that, I was hand flying as the autopilot isn’t designed to fly it with these weights. On top of hand flying and poor communications was managing my fuel.
When I finally reached top of my climb into the air, it was about time to begin the first fuel transfer from the ferry tank to the wing tank. This is a task I have quickly taken on with ease, but today with a number of things going on, I needed to be on the ball more than ever, however with so much going on I was given a reminder of just how important this task is.
Part of my job is to burp the fuel tank, which is a process where I massage the extra air out of the tank in order for the fuel to be picked up properly and transferred into the wing tank. Flying up high, you encounter reduced air pressure, so anything with air in it expands. Next time you’re on a flight, get yourself a packet of chips and see it expand as you ascend – it’s a small scale copy of what was happening with the fuel tank, it was expanding so needed burping before I transferred fuel, all routine.
However, I was approaching a region called the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), which begins usually around 7-8 degrees south of the equator until about 5 degrees south of the equator.
In the ITCZ often you will encounter some pretty hefty storms and this day was just not going to be my day, I knew it. Whilst managing my communications and hand flying the aircraft, I received a whack in the head with the metal refill cap on my fuel tank, of course as the air expanded. Despite this, I managed to get the fuel pickup in the tank enough for at least one transfer, which I began as I started weaving through the storms around me.
If I had to describe the storms, they were like huge, grey giants battling each other high in the sky while I tried to avoid hitting their feet in my little Cirrus.
I weaved and maneuvered my way through the first 3/4 of the ITCZ, however upon reaching the last quarter I was presented with my biggest challenge. There were two huge cells, bigger than I had ever seen, very close together but covering what I guess to be a 100 nautical mile front. In between them was a gap, you can tell where it is because the towering section of the cloud is the storms, and there will sometimes be surround cloud, which isn’t as intense. So using the skills I had been taught, I went with my gut and made a decision to go through the gap.
About 30 seconds after entering the cloud I broke out again right where I had aimed for between the two cells and ahead of me was a perfect tunnel to escape the giants, on the other side was the end of the ITCZ and perfect blue skies.
The remainder of the flight was then as the first few legs had been, albeit with a couple of more hours of hand flying before putting the autopilot on and cruising to Christmas Island, Kiribati.
The island itself was again quite beautiful to fly into and being on the ground was certainly being on island time!
Speaking to the local information service on the radio I confirmed with them that both customs and the refuellers would be ready upon my arrival, perfect.
After putting the aircraft down and taxiing in, I was met by a marshaller, but there were no customs or fuel as had been confirmed not long before. After a little creative negotiating and a few calls from Tiote (pronounced Sett-eh), we eventually managed to get customs and the refuellers in…3 hours later.
Refuelling was a bit of fun, with the fuel coming in drums from a little truck due to the more remote nature of Kiribati. After clearing the fuel as ok to put into the aircraft, using a special test kit, the refueller hand pumped while I nozzled the wing tanks and finally the ferry tank. Following that little experience I headed to my hotel for some food and well earned rest after a long day.
Now remember the remoteness of Kiribati, small pacific island, with no fuel bowsers, just pre-ordered drums. Well, the accommodation was also a little way off the great streak I had enjoyed to that point. But I guess to be expected.
There was a gap under the door big enough that you could have driven a crane through. As well as the half a door, the lights were only partially working and the bed was smaller than me but that’s ok. I was so tired I really didn’t mind and I just needed sleep.
So I went to have a shower before getting some dinner but the showerhead was missing and the taps were broken, so I decided some deodorant would do the trick and headed off to the “restaurant”.
The room I had dinner in, on plastic deck chairs, was pleasant enough and after a few failed attempts at trying to get food (as they didn’t have it) I managed to get some spicy chicken, which I am hoped I wouldn’t regret later on.
I headed back into my room, checked the bed for crabs or any other creature, and fell into a coma for the next 7 hours.
Upon waking up and packing everything away Tiote greeted me and we zoomed to the airport in the little Toyota Starlet. Now when I say zoomed, I mean we entered the Christmas Island rally championship: in position 1, Tiote and Lachie; in position two was Crab Lowndes; and position 3 we had Lightning McCrab. We won.
When I reached the aeroplane I pre-flighted it and ensured everything was set for departure. I jumped in a tried to contact San Francisco on the radio but had no luck. After a few phone calls and eventually talking to the flight information service when they woke up, I managed to get the HF frequencies in use for today and set off for my next destination, the 50th state of the USA – Hawaii!
The flight crossing the ITCZ in the northern hemisphere was much better and the team back home guided me around the storm cells using the satellite feed and satellite data of the weather, it’s important to remember that this whole journey is largely reliant on teamwork! It was actually quite a nice flight with everything going pretty well including communications, and a great destination up ahead.
Hawaii will be a stop where I spend more than two days on the ground, a nice break as I draw close to the end of my first week away!
As always, any questions feel free to comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
One Teenager – One Engine – Endless Opportunities
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