Two men are flying a Cessna from South Africa to Alaska.
December 29, 2001 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Two men are flying a Cessna from South Africa to Alaska. "When I'm feeling romantic, I like to think of us as a modern-day Lewis and Clark (or maybe Huck and Jim), two guys on a once-in-a-lifetime aerial road trip. But there's more to it than that. Amid the mundane details and daily routine inside the Cessna cabin, I expect there to be unforeseen revelations and epiphanies – about the world seen this unique way and perhaps about ourselves." [check out the ultra-cool map]
posted by skallas (6 comments total)
Oh, that's just beautiful. It's good to know that there are people out there who are willing to go on old-fashioned adventures every once in a while.
posted by Spinderella56 at 12:26 PM on December 29, 2001

Although in a different direction and traveling by a different medium, Ed Arnold's current journey, (communicated by a much less appealing site) tells a similar story and fires my imagination just by watching his daily track unfold. Still, for epiphanies, it's hard to beat Moitessier's The Long Way voyage.

While travel adventures and challenges abound for those with the nerve (or stupidity) to seek them out, I hold a special bit of admiration for those who choose to journey in an ultimately human-hostile medium.
posted by salt at 12:57 PM on December 29, 2001

Thanks for the link! Fascinating story, good writing.

From the 'DAYS 30 - 35 | RANKIN INLET, NUNAVUT' section:
"'s the smaller picture that sticks in memory. Not the continents, not the countries, but the communities: those seen in traditional small-town and village ways, those that cross boundaries, and those for which geographic boundaries are meaningless."

Most of us probably travel by air a bit, but commercial airlines are so different than this kind of puddle-jumping : you're too far above the land to see anything but the largest elements of geography, and you always land in the highly structured, and very similar, airports of major urban centers.

I'm going to a conference on the other side of the US in March, and I've thought of driving or taking Amtrak for this reason: to actually get something out of the trip itself, a flavor of the intervening country itself, not just whatever's at the end of the trip. The practical problem, of course, is expense, in both dollars and time.

BTW, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Wind, Sand and Stars is mentioned in the first entry. This is a classic, first published in 1941, about the experience of flying a small plane. Still in print, and an excellent read.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 11:02 PM on December 29, 2001

Great stuff.

When I was living in La Paz, Mexico for a while there years back, I met a couple of German guys doing the same sort of thing, on BMW motorcycles, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. They'd gotten down to the tip of Baja from Alaska and were about to take the ferry over to Mazatlan when we hijacked them and got drunk with them for a few days....

I wonder if they made it?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:20 AM on December 30, 2001

i challenge your drinking prowess !

and say, yes, they were probably fine and made it in style!
posted by Frasermoo at 3:06 AM on December 30, 2001

When I first read "flying ... from South Africa to Alaska," I thought the duo would be flying via African East coast and then turn right and fly over Asia to Alaska. Kind of a reverse flight path of the Silver Queen, the Vickers Vimy I read about in National Geographic Magazine a few years ago1, 2. And then I saw the "ultra-cool map". It is pretty amazing that they are flying over the African West coast, Europe, Greenland and so far up North over Canada. And the writing is pretty candid as well:
We had intended to go up the east side of Africa. But that would have entailed passing through Saudi Arabian airspace, and getting permission became a bureaucratic impossibility. So a week before scheduled launch, the route was changed to the other side of the continent.

Along the way, we'll witness the expanse and connectedness of things below in ways impossible to see from an airliner. We'll move through a world challenged by natural disasters, AIDS, overpopulation, and poverty, through one that is high-tech, rich, and fighting environmental battles linked to consumption and overcrowding, and finally to the resource-rich but barely populated regions of Canada.
As a kid (which I think I still am), I was amazed by the Paris-Beijing air race/rally. The Marco Polo Rally even has an online pilot sign-up form. Its more daring cousin, the London-Sydney air race even saw a two woman and a three woman team fly the distance. The Silver Queen, the Vimy replica, flew this route as its first distance flight.
posted by tamim at 5:19 AM on December 31, 2001

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