Al Marsh

WorldFlight Pipistrel back in Europe

April 8, 2012 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

(Updated April 18. He has reached Malta. He was headed for Tunis but fuel levels over Libya dictated changing to the alternate, Malta, after a 10-hour flight Wednesday. The turbocharger is repaired and working. The oil return line to the Rotax turbocharger was blocked by carbon soot. The situation had been building for some time, including all the hours he spent over the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Look for the blog item from the mechanic titled “Glen Meyer’s Report” to see what he found here.)

Matevž Lenarčič of Slovenia, who just left South Africa on his GreenLight WorldFlight west around the world, had a turbocharger failure near Keetmanshoop, Namibia, and will remain there at least until April 12 while the turbocharger is replaced.

Click picture to enlarge, then click again.

The village is located in the lower third of Namibia, near South Africa. The turbocharger of his Rotax engine failed, due to a gap in the engine’s oil return line. It appears the lack of oil did not damage the engine due to the pilot’s quick reaction. Lenarčič realized he was only two miles from an airport, and intentionally shut the engine down to save it. Given the gliding characteristics of his Pipistrel, he had an easy glide to Keetmanshoop, where there is a tower, a modern terminal building, and a beautiful village nearby. The engine has had 400 hours of extreme heat, cold, dust and altitude, flying to Antarctica and above the top of Mt. Everest (topping out above 29,400 feet).

He is also having difficulty getting permission to cross Libya. He hopes to make it to Aero Friedrichshafen in Germany, an airshow that begins April 18, to celebrate his flight. AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne hopes to interview him there, but it depends on turbocharger replacement and airspace permission from Libya, which has not been granted.

Help is on the way from The Airplane Factory in Johannesburg, South Africa, a light sport manufacturer and service facility that makes the Sling 2 and Sling 4 aircraft. There is also a dealer named The Airplane Factory in California. Like Matevz’s Pipistrel, the Sling has also flown around the world and is also powered by a Rotax. Check out Pipistrel here.  This is the second trip around the world for a Pipistrel.

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