Unaided by a ground team or a helicopter support, Mr. Lenarčič managed this astonishing around-the-world flight all by himself!
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This flight is as unique as it is extreme – before Mr. Lenarčič, nobody managed to fly around the world in an ultralight plane without a co-pilot and without any ground support.
The routing of the circumnavigation journey was as follows:
Ajdovscina (Slovenia) -> Ptuj (Slovenia) -> Szeged (Hungary) ->
Donetsk (Ukraine) -> Atyrau (Kazahkstan) -> Karaganda (Kazahkstan) ->
Ulgii (Mongolia) -> Ulan Baator (Mongolia) -> Choibalsan (Mongolia) ->
Chita (Russia) -> Habarovsk (Russia) -> Magadan (Russia) -> Anadyr (Russia) ->
Nome (Alaska – U.S.A.) -> Anchorage (Alaska – U.S.A.) ->
Fairbanks (Alaska – U.S.A.) -> Whitehorse (Canada) -> Vernon (Canada) ->
San Francisco (California – U.S.A.) -> Oshkosh (WI – U.S.A.) -> Springdale (AR – U.S.A.) -> Wabush (Canada) -> Iqaluit (Canada) -> Reykjavik (Iceland) -> Scotland -> Madrid (Spain) -> Pisa (Italy) -> Trieste (Italy) -> Portoroz(Slovenia) -> Ajdovscina (Slovenia)
The route of the flight, outlined in red:
one pilot, one plane, the entire world!
Matevž had to fight countless dangers and obstacles, both natural and human-caused, such as long flights over endless forests or freezing arctic seas without the chance of an emergency landing, danger of storms and strong winds, extremely low temperatures, troublesome bureaucracy and above all, himself, with hallucinations and exhaustion as the result of countless hours, having to be perfectly focused on flying.
So who is the man who managed this titanic task?
Matevž Lenarčič is an adventurer, mountain climber, paraglider and pilot. He was climbing mountains in Greenland, Patagonia and Himalaya and paraglided from Himalayan mountain tops.
In the last years he devoted himself to flying and photography.
For the task of flying around the world, Pipistrel manufactured an improved, modified Sinus airplane specially for Matevž. The long list of modifications included larger gasoline tanks, rescue equipment, more storage space, removal of the second set of controls…
The flight was an adventure, but a beautiful one. Here you can see some of the photographs that Matevž took from the plane:
Upon his arrival back in Ajdovščina, a lot of people gathered to greet and congratulate Matevž. Here you can see some of the photographs from the event:
Matevž is landing in Ajdovščina to find a warm greeting
A part of Pipistrel Team, gathered to cheer Matevž
Boris Velikonja, Leon Brecelj and Ivo Boscarol presenting the Victoria award with a silver replica of Sinus on the top, to Matevž.
Pipistrel’s Press releases of Matevž’s flight
Release 1: June, 2004
We are excited to report that the countdown for Sinus around the World flight has started! On Sunday, June 6th 2004, Mr Matevž Lenarčič of Slovenia will take his Sinus ultralight motorglider onto the first of many legs of the journey around the Globe.
He will depart from Ajdovščina, Pipistrel’s hometown, at around mid-day and head eastbound towards Hungary accompanied by the Pipistrel Demoteam. To inaugurate this special event a 4-ship ‘inverted Y’ formation will be formed. The formation lead by Matevž in Sinus ultralight motorglider will fly across Slovenia and will be visible from most major towns in the country.
Release 2: July, 2004
Matevž Lenarčič is making excellent progress after being forced to be grounded in Russia for quite some time due to various paper wars and misunderstandings. Now, everything runs even smoother than plan and Matevž already passed the half-way point of his World record attempt and journey around the World. Yes, Matevž made it to OSHKOSH on Thursday (July 29th, 2004) evening! Upon arrival, Matevž and his Sinus were warmly welcomed by the team of Pipistrel USA, members of world media and the huge crowd that gathered at the annual
AirVenture event. Representatives of all major world general and aviation media are briefed about the details of the Around-the-World flight, Matevž’s pilot profile and of course his Sinus’ and Pipistrel’s background during several press conferences every day of the event. Michael Coates of Pipistrel USA wrote us from the venue when Matevž and his Sinus were still on their way to AirVenture 2004:
” We have been allocated a special parking spot for you right in front of the tower on the grass – this area is only used rarely and it’s indeed an honour to be offered the best spot in the whole of Oshkosh for the display. There will media from around the world attending and it will give both the journey and the aircraft some
fantastic exposure! ” Now this has become a reality! Matevž and Pipistrel’s Sinus are THE major attraction of this years AirVenture 2004. The area around the aircraft is crowded
with people from around the world every day. The Pipistrel USA stand is also a huge magnet for the visitors and buyers. They admire the shape, design and quality of finish of the aircraft. To say people are impressed by the performance of Pipistrel’s aircraft is an understatement – most are simply amazed.
Release 3: August, 2004
Following the huge public exposure at Oskhosh’s Airventure 2004, Matevz flew over to Springdale in the state of Arkansas where his Sinus was upgraded with a complimentary autopilot unit kindly provided by TruTrak company, which Pipistrel also represents for Slovenian market.
Matevz’s further routing would have taken him through a devastating hurricane so he abolished this plan and headed further northbound. Soon after departing Springdale, a fully unexpected event striked Matevz in flight. He lost the top engine composite cover, which simply forgot to re-fasten in all will for flying. A forced landing and immediate help from the team of Pipistrel USA solved the problem in a couple of days. Matevz was able to continue flight towards Montreal.
Flying further north over the Canadian vast wilderness Matevz began to feel strange propeller vibration and performed a precautionary landing at Wabush. The propeller indeed proved incapable of further operation. Like an angel service Pipistrel USA offered assistance again and provided Matevz with a completely new propeller.
He set off to Iqaluit where we waited for suitable weather for the trans-atlantic leg of his journey. Determined he would not make a stop-over at Greenland Matevz flew 2400 km over the north Atlantic ocean directly to Reykjavik, Iceland. Scottland and England ”fell” thereafter, and Matevz flew directly to Spain’s capital, Madrid.
Everything looked right but soon after take-off in Madrid Sinus’ engine began to lose power. Matevz landed safely and spent a day extra in Madrid, where Pipistrel’s distributor for Spain took care of the engine. That sorted, nothing could interveen the flight towards Pisa, Italy. There, Matevz was warmly welcomed and gave interview to all means of media and press. That same day, he departed for Trieste, Italy where he spent the last night on the journey around the world. Only a short flight via Portoroz followed and on August 25th Matevz finally arrived at Ajdovscina airport, to the exact place he departed from on June 6th, 2004.
The homecoming was absolutely glorious. Matevz was greeted by the president of the Aeronautical Association of Slovenia, Mayor of Ajdovscina, full staff of Pipistrel, members of media and a huge crowd of enthusiast and supporters. What a way to conclude an around the World journey!
With his flight around the World, Matevz would claim several world records. This was the first ever circumnavigation flight completed with single crew (pilot only) on a Microlight aircraft. Also, Matevz’s flight would be a validated around the World speed record according to the FAI rules for aircraft with maximum MTOM under 500 kgs.
For those of you who like statistics: The journey took 79 days and covered 39.700 km with an average speed over 20 km/h (11 kts).