Interesting things always used to start with a phone call. Today it’s usually an email. And it was an email from an old friend, Ross Russo, that kicked off the discussion that led to an invitation to fly around the world. Mike Laver, a native of Australia, has been flying Mitsubishi MU-2 turboprops for some 30 years. He owns and operates the Air 1st Aviation companies in Aiken, S.C., which buys and sells the model, runs a repair facility, and operates the largest MU-2 fleet in the world.
While Mike has done a lot of international flying, he had never flown around the globe. So, why not combine that with the 5oth anniversary of the model’s first flight, on Sept. 14, by flying into Nagoya, Japan? He had invited Ross to document the the trip, but Ross’ daughter is getting married in the middle of the adventure, so he reluctantly passed. He suggested me as a worthy aviation journalist who would be up to the task. So I’ll be joining Mike aboard N50ET (above), his pristine 1973 MU-2B-25, for the adventure. If we stay on our current schedule, we’ll be on the airways for 25 days.
Mike has done most of the planning, working closely with BaseOps, which he’s contracted to provide handling services on the trip. The schedule has evolved; for example, a planned stop in Egypt was moved because of the political climate following the recent coup. We’re flying eastbound, from Frederick to Goose Bay, Greenland, Iceland, England, then Germany and Austria. After a couple days of business there, we’ll transit the Middle East and make a fuel stop in India on the way to Australia. Following several days down under, we’ll make our way to the Philippines, stop for fuel in Taiwan, and land at the MU-2’s birthplace in Japan. Then it’s the home stretch: Russia (three stops), Alaska (two stops), North Dakota, then home. All told, it will be about 85 hours of flying.
Connectivity permitting, I will blog daily during the trip. I also will be doing several stories for AOPA Pilot that you’ll see over the coming year. Finally, I will be evaluating DeLorme’s InReach SE satellite tracker–check the map at the top of this blog any time to monitor our progress (it should update our position every 10 minutes while we’re in flight). We hope you’ll follow along.