Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Robert DeLaurentis: Adventure seeker plans to fly over both poles in Gulfstream Turbo Commander 900

Six-foot-tall San Diego pilot Robert DeLaurentis is dwarfed by one of the monster propellers on his modified 1983 plane, Citizen of the World. He plans to fly the aircraft over both the South Pole and the North Pole.

When Robert DeLaurentis says he plans to go to the ends of the Earth, he is not kidding.

Proof sits in a hangar at El Cajon’s Gillespie Field.

It’s a 1983 Gulfstream Turbo Commander 900 plane modified like no other. Its twin Honeywell engines have been tweaked to achieve maximum efficiency, 750 horsepower each on takeoff and an altitude of 35,000 feet where the temperature drops to 76 degrees below zero. Six fuel tanks will be added to store 928 extra gallons of fuel, enough to ensure more than 5,000 nautical miles of travel without refueling. The small plane is propelled by giant custom five-bladed scimitar props and has a 52-foot wingspan.

DeLaurentis plans to fly from the South Pole to the North Pole, hoping to break records for speed and distance for his class of plane en route.

On Dec. 15, he plans to leave from San Diego International Airport. The 52-year-old pilot aims to fly over the South Pole on Jan. 1 in full daylight before heading toward the North Pole, which will be shrouded in darkness.

DeLaurentis calls his plane Citizen of the World because his polar circumnavigation will take him on a journey of nearly 30,000 miles over more than 20 countries. The longest leg will cover 5,063 miles and take more than 18 hours to complete.

“Nobody has ever attempted this in this weight class,” said the San Diego real estate manager whose plane weighs 10,700 pounds. He called this the greatest thing he could do in an aircraft “short of going into outer space.”

DeLaurentis is no stranger to challenges. In 2015, I interviewed him after he circumnavigated the globe in a single-engine Piper Malibu Mirage named the Spirit of San Diego. He carried with him a rosary, a stone etched with “Love” and a bracelet given to him by a monk in Thailand. His solo adventure was chronicled in his book, “Zen Pilot: Flight of Passion & the Journey Within,” which he wrote to inspire others to go after their dreams.

The upcoming trip has a practical value as well. His plane will be carrying three scientific STEM experiments designed by students and teachers.

Original article ➤  http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com

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