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Three journeys roundThree journeys round

Two British helicopter pilots, Peter Wilson and Matthew Gallagher, stopped at AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Maryland, in July as they entered the final quarter of a world-spanning flight in a Robinson R66.

Their 120-plus-day, 30,000-nautical-mile adventure is the first helicopter circumnavigation that touches the equator in both the eastern and western hemispheres (Indonesia and Colombia).

“The route that we’re attempting has never been tried before,” said Wilson, who previously flew his helicopter (G-DIGA) around the perimeter of Africa. “Others may do it more quickly in the future, but we’ll always be the first to complete it.”

The pair expect to fly about 300 flight hours, and their route has stretched from Arctic Alaska to the equator. They’ve been across Europe, the Middle East, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Alaska, Canada, the U.S. West Coast, Central America, Trinidad, Cuba, and the U.S. East Coast. They planned to re-enter Canada at Quebec, cross the Atlantic via Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands (Sweden), and Scotland, then return home to England.

British helicopter pilot Peter Wilson cleans the windscreen during a stop at AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Maryland, as they entered the final quarter of a world-spanning flight in a Robinson R-66. Photo by David Tulis.

They’re documenting their trip with photos and video, and they’re taking scenic routes. From the Mid-Atlantic, the pair planned to fly New York’s Hudson River VFR corridor on their way northeast.

The pair has encountered bureaucratic snafus, weather delays, and bouts of sickness. But Gallagher said the people they’ve encountered along the way have been friendly and helpful.

“Everywhere we’ve gone, the people have been absolutely incredible,” he said. “That’s been the best part.”

Follow their progress online.

  • British helicopter pilots Matthew Gallagher and Peter Wilson leave AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Maryland, during a world-spanning flight in a Robinson R-66. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Il Ngwesi, Kenya, during a Three Journeys Round transcontinental helicopter flight in a Robinson R-66 helicopter. Photo courtesy of Three Journeys Round.
  • The Cheetah Concervation Fund Otjiwarongo, Namibia, during a Three Journeys Round transcontinental helicopter flight in a Robinson R-66 helicopter. Photo courtesy of Three Journeys Round.
  • Customs in Gwadar, Pakistan, during a Three Journeys Round transcontinental helicopter flight in a Robinson R-66 helicopter. Photo courtesy of Three Journeys Round.
  • School kids in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during a Three Journeys Round transcontinental helicopter flight in a Robinson R-66 helicopter. Photo courtesy of Three Journeys Round.
  • El Nido, Phillipines, during a Three Journeys Round transcontinental helicopter flight in a Robinson R-66 helicopter. Photo courtesy of Three Journeys Round.
  • Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during a Three Journeys Round transcontinental helicopter flight in a Robinson R-66 helicopter. Photo courtesy of Three Journeys Round.
Dave Hirschman

Dave Hirschman

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
Topics: Helicopter, Around the World Flight

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