On August 10, 1519, five ships left the Port of Seville, Spain. They sailed west under the leadership of Ferdinand Magellan with the objective of circumnavigating the globe. Only one of those ships completed the journey, Victoria.

     The journey I am about to undertake with my co-pilot, John Habes, is much less daunting than that taken by the souls on those five ships. They had no radios, no accurate charts, no GPS, no one tracking their progress, and most important no one who had preceded them. John and I have all of the above and it may be presumptuous for me to even reference these journeys together. Nevertheless, I do so and want to dedicate this effort to their bravery. Hence, the rationale of our opening page: Mission Victoria II.

     Our ship will not be tossed about on the wide oceans (hopefully). We instead take an airship. An airship constructed last year by Piper Aircraft in Vero Beach, Florida containing a highly regarded jet engine manufactured by Pratt & Whitney and state of the art avionics. Her tail number is N6077Q and she shall henceforth be called "Q." Q can cruise at 30,000 feet at 300 mph for a distance in excess of 1,000 miles. Hence, no risk of contaminated provisions, scurvy or lice. Each day we will fly from 3-5 hours, visit an interesting city, dine on local cuisine, and sleep in comfortable accommodations.

     The global path was chosen with a variety of of factors in play. We go to the east to capture prevailing winds (why did those five ships go west?). We need departure/arrival airports not more than 1,000 miles apart and we need to avoid unstable political situations. In all, we will travel approximately 22,000 miles with about 100 hours of flying time and 33 stops over 20 nations.

     The time of year for the flight was chosen to minimize weather problems. Late spring/early summer avoids winter weather over the North Atlantic and the Arctic reaches of Eastern Russia and Alaska. Given our northern track over the least hospitable terrain, we also maximize the number of day light hours this time of year. When we cross from Anadyr, Russia to Nome, Alaska, we will be on the Arctic Circle very close to June, 21, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

     We have taken all safety precautions available, from survival gear to careful planning. Our flight will be tracked by a Canadian company (Skyplan) I retained to assist with planning and obtaining the many permits needed to cross international boundaries in a private plane. We will be in contact with them daily for weather reports, filing flight plans, an to hear the friendly voice of Chad Wilson, Manger of International Trip Coordination.

     No Prologue is complete without a few acknowledgements. Thanks go to Steve Lane (taught me to fly nine years ago), Dean Ellis (owner of Windy City Flyers, my flying club), Doyle and Jack Fayhee (family who flew small planes as I was yet a child), John Marston (USAF, ret. who has given guidance and encouragement), and John Lowe (Piper Dealer who has ably serviced Q).

Each day we will file a report on our progress. I hope you enjoy following our journey which begins at dawn tomorrow.


Mike Fayhee

May 14, 2009