I have been a traveller all my life. I was brought up in Zimbabwe. I live in Europe and have worked all over the world. I came to helicopter flying late in life. I learned to fly in 1998 and have been a weekend instructor for much of that time. Flying round the UK in 2004 and rubbing shoulders with friends doing crazy things like climbing Mount Everest or cycling round the world gave me an idea to do something epic. I wanted an adventure by helicopter with a purpose.
A serendipitous meeting while flying in Scotland led to the development of a working relationship with Nigel Winser who became my mentor for sustainable development. It also led to an introduction to Save the Children and Motivation International. I was struck by the arguments for living within Earth’s means and doing something to raise awareness of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. It also made a lot of sense to fundraise for two charities that champion the rights and choices of children, women and the incapacitated.
Planning from scratch has been a huge undertaking very few really appreciate. Setting objectives, understanding the logistics to put in place, raising sponsorship, configuring the correctly equipped helicopter took me nearly two years. I decided to devote my time to it and with the help of many kind people I went about developing the Three Journeys Round project just like I had done my own businesses. The platform is the three remarkable journeys. My objective is to travel with a purpose by helicopter and share the stories.
On the 3rd October 2016 I returned from my solo world record VFR helicopter flight around Africa. It was utterly spectacular. I saw firsthand the stunning contrasts across Africa including; the generous peoples; cultures; levels of development; weather; deserts; forests; coast lines; rivers; volcanoes; animals; history; and, much, much more. However, I was knackered! I had less than six months to be ready for my journey round the world in order to fit the weather window.
On the 7th August 2017 I became the first helicopter pilot to fly an equatorial, antipodal circumnavigation with Matthew Gallagher. Together we landed at the twinned cities of Palembang in Indonesia and Neiva in Colombia on opposite sides of Earth. I have now seen the stunning contrasts across the world including the welcoming people; wonderful cultures; wide levels of development, different uses of the land, and Nature’s power and beauty; the cold glacial northern latitudes and the hot sweaty equatorial latitudes; animals; history, politics, and again, much, much more.
On the 3rd March 2019 I became the first person to fly around Latin America with Robin Doten. We had the good fortune to experience the Caribbean, South America and Central America from the helicopter platform: the beaches and reefs; the Amazon River and Forest; the Moxos Plain and the Pantanal; the Patagonia Steppe, Tierra del Fuego, the Southern Icecap, glaciers, and volcanoes; the Atacama and Sechura Deserts, an earthquake in Ecuador; spectacular wildlife including, Condor, Giant River Otters and the penguins! It was absolutely breath-taking scenery throughout. South America is a beautiful continent of BIG contrasts: forests and desert, flat and mountainous, wet and dry, windy and calm. The constant throughout was the generosity and hospitality of all whom they had the privilege to meet.
I am now busy ‘decompressing’ and writing a book of the experience. I am also seeking sponsorship to support the production and distribution of a Coffee Table Book of the very best and absolutely stunning photographs from the three amazing journeys with costs recovered and the proceeds going to charity. If you know any company that would want to be associated with Sustainable Development and charitable giving in this way, then I would be most grateful for the introduction.
Every day I am energised by new challenges.
There will be an encore announced soon enough!