UPDATE 30 Dec 2018 — Sad news about a crash of one of the Handiflight aircraft with the loss of one of the pilots. See Comments. —DJ
Imagine you are flying along in your well-maintained Light-Sport Aircraft with its reliable engine. You are flying a long distance over all sorts of terrain, including vast stretches of water. All is humming along and the miles or kilometers are clicking past. What an experience to fly around the world! Very, very few pilots will ever tackle such a grand challenge.
Then, the unexpected happens. Your engine quits. You have a plan. You trained for this and you are experienced. You leap into action.
Imagine that you find an acceptable landing area but the location is very remote. That seems rather likely when flying all the way around the planet.
Touchdown goes OK. The airplane is undamaged. You are fine. However, you cannot raise anyone on the radio and you are not sure your airborne mayday call was heard. You might trigger the ELT or other satellite device you brought but rescue means staying with the aircraft. Depending on the situation, that might not be optimal.
Now… imagine all this if your means of moving around is by wheelchair. This adds a huge extra dimension of difficulty, even for a determined and fiercely independent person. What once was a daring aviation adventure could now become a battle on the ground.
Handiflight Goes Global into 2019
Beyond the monumental task of planning such lengthy flight, this and other emergency scenarios were surely contemplated by the pilot team from Handiflight as they prepared for their circumnavigation of the globe in twin CTLS Light-Sport Aircraft.
Handiflight’s goal is both simple and enormous at once: “A challenging and inspiring global adventure promoting the inclusion of disabled people and values such as commitment, fraternity, and fellowship.”
Handiflight 2018/2019 hopes to “contribute to changing people’s perceptions of disability and combating prejudices and exclusion” and to “turn dreams into reality, face new challenges, explore new pathways, discover new horizons by flying … across the most amazing and demanding areas of our planet. An additional goal is to “strengthen the global network of disabled aviators all around the world in collaboration with the FAI and local flying clubs.”
CTLS aircraft with call signs Whisky Yankee Alpha and WY Bravo set off on this expedition just a few days ago. Here is the planned itinerary for their nearly 50,000-mile voyage.
- Departure — November 2018
- Australia — February 2019
- New-Zealand — March 2019
- South Pacific — April-May 2019
- South America — June 2019
- North America — July 2019
- Europe — August 2019
As you might guess — and as has happened with several other such expeditions — the team is targeting a visit at Oshkosh with their CTLS aircraft. That should provide a wealth of media and pilot exposure for this brave team of aerial explorers. They also plan media interviews along the route.
Handiflight shares Handicap International’s goal of combating prejudice and promoting inclusion by helping to change perceptions about disability. The Handiflight organizers said, “That’s why we have selected HI as our partner and the beneficiary of all the donations we collect.”
“It wasn’t difficult to decide on this partnership,” stated Petra Schroeter, Director of Handicap International Switzerland. “The inclusion of people with disabilities is at the heart of HI’s mission, and we are delighted that the project is giving visibility to our campaign across national borders. The amounts donated during this great adventure will be donated entirely to projects for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the 56 countries we operate in.”
As you celebrate the upcoming holidays with friends and family it might be interesting to track Handiflight 2018/2019‘s progress. And send good thoughts to the flight team that they do not have to land in some remote, unfriendly location. Imagine how good you have it as you ponder their immense journey.