MENOMONIE, Wis. (AP) - After 25 years of being a pilot, Kerry McCauley of Menomonie finally marked off the last section of a model globe he keeps at home showing he has flown around the world.
McCauley, who, as an international ferry pilot delivers all types and ages of airplanes to owners around the world, told the Leader-Telegram (https://bit.ly/2a75SRx ) he always had gaps he hadn’t flown until he joined with a group of six Epic LT aircraft owners who decided to fly their planes around the world.
They started from Oshkosh July 5 and landed at the Menomonie airport July 25 to refuel and take a break just before taking their last leg to Oshkosh that night, where they were to take in part of the EAA AirVenture 2016, a weeklong event that draws 10,000 aircraft and people from more than 60 countries to Wittman Regional Airport to celebrate the past, present and future of aviation.
The around-the-world trip covered 15,000 nautical miles, nine countries, 20 cities and three continents.
“The Epic is a new experimental aircraft that has a cultlike following,” said McCauley, who also owns Skydive Twin Cities.
Owners got together and decided to take the trip and enjoy an adventure together, he said. They originally planned to go to Europe and then just expanded the trip to around the world.
McCauley, who is married with two children, and other experienced pilots went along as consultants and to fly the aircraft when needed.
“The biggest challenge was getting everybody on board and keeping them safe,” said McCauley, who is also a pilot on the show “Dangerous Flights,” which airs on the Smithsonian channel, chronicling flights of ferry pilots delivering aircraft.
Weather can change quickly, which can impact air travel, he noted.
“We averaged four hours of sleep a day,” McCauley said. “When you are flying east you are losing time and crossing time zones.”
They also were taking part in events set up along the flight, he noted.
“It’s been fantastic,” McCauley said. “We were usually at five-star accommodations when we could get them.”
On one leg of the trip they crossed five time zones in Russia and traveled for 15 hours. On most days they traveled 800 to 1,000 miles per day.
The Epic travels at about 375 miles per hour and can go up to 34,000 feet in the air, McCauley said. Many of the owners built parts of their planes working with Epic.
“It’s nice you can cover a lot of ground,” McCauley said of the aircraft. “They are just darn sexy.”
Twenty-six people traveled in the six aircraft.
Daryl Ingalsbe of Spicer, Minn., owns one of the Epic LTs and took part in the trip.
“A lot of people don’t think they can fly around the world in a single engine airplane. If it is turbo you can,” he said. “It was like a Tom Sawyer adventure in an airplane. To go around the world; not everybody does that.”
One of the beautiful parts of the flight was from Nome to Anchorage in Alaska.
“The sun never really sets up there so it’s really beautiful,” he said. “We could see Mount McKinley with the red sky overhead.”
Some of the owners are talking about a trip next year around South America over the rain forest, McCauley said.
Information from: Leader-Telegram, https://www.leadertelegram.com/
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