Stephan and Charlie Armstrong aim to fly around the world in a plane they built themselves.
  • Stephan and Charlie Armstrong aim to fly around the world in a plane they built themselves.
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We’ve always wanted to fly around the world in a small plane — my pilot’s license dates back to 1978. But we couldn’t afford a plane, so we had to build one.

After taking six years to build our own airplane, (named See World I), my 12-year-old son Charlie and I are ready to fly the plane around the world to raise awareness for pediatric cancer research.

The flight, which is scheduled to begin in May 2012, will start at the Borrego Valley Airport. From there we will travel to the East Coast, Canada, Greenland, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, Japan, Russia, Alaska, and then back to San Diego. The journey will last over three months and cover five continents, 29 countries, and a distance of more than 35,000 miles.

The airplane we are using is a single engine, two-seater Van's RV-8 kit plane. I still remember the first box arriving at our house a few days before Christmas of 2005. There it was, a confusing mess of metal pieces, rivets, screws, a lot of plans, and a ridiculously thick book entitled Builders Manual.

To prepare See World I for the circumnavigation, we increased its fuel capacity by one third and are installing a sophisticated navigation system. Aviation law also requires us to carry satellite tracking, immersion suits, and maritime/polar survival equipment.

On our trip we will organize as many media events as possible and visit pediatric cancer hospitals. People from around the world have offered us fuel and places to sleep. Someone even donated thermal underwear. Hopefully we can also raise enough attention to reach our goal of contributing one million dollars to pediatric cancer research.

Charlie, a home-schooler, gets to have the field trip of a lifetime. Unofficially deemed navigator and copilot, he will not only receive an education in piloting, geography, world culture, history, and geology, but also become a worthy ambassador for children with cancer.

I am employed as an apple farmer in Julian. If you would like to be a part of this journey and contribute to this cause, visit our website, flying-for-the-cure.org, or follow See World I on Facebook or Twitter.

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