Pilots dream about that one adventure, that one bucket-list flight they’d drop everything to take.
We interviewed Dr. Arnold Sperling, a long-time friend of Executive Flyers, after his trip-of-a-lifetime. He recently ferried a piston-powered Piper Meridian from Hanscom Field (KBED) in Bedford, Massachusetts to Melbourne, Australia…going East.
Sperling’s journey began with mountains of paperwork. Innumerable customs documents were required for the ten-nation voyage. He also used a third party flight planning firm called Air Journey. Some clearances took as long as a week to process.
Next, Sperling needed an extended-range tank. He flew the Meridian from Bedford, Massachusetts to Tracy, California where the tank was installed by Skyview Aviation. Then, it was back to Bedford and on to the real journey, which would take Sperling and his friend Mike Groff across five continents.
Their first stop was St. John’s International (CYYT) in Newfoundland, the traditional last stop for small aircraft about to cross the Atlantic. They got snowed in for a day before their leg to the Portuguese Azores (LPAZ).
Sperling and Groff made a stopover in Ibiza (LEIB) off the eastern coast of mainland Spain before crossing the Mediterranean. They landed at Luxor International Airport (HELX) in Egypt where one gallon of 100LL costs $20.
The next leg terminated at Oman’s Muscat International (OOMS) near the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Sperling and Groff took a day off to do some sightseeing. They visited the mountains before setting off across the Indian Ocean.
They landed in Colombo (VCBI), the capital city of Sri Lanka. The island nation lies just off the southeast coast of India. After some more sightseeing, it was on to Singapore (WSSL) and El Tari airport (WATT) in Kupang, Indonesia.
Dr. Sperling took some time to visit local medical clinics. While fairly typical of much of the developing world, they certainly lacked much of the medical infrastructure many of us take for granted.
The next leg took Sperling and Groff to Darwin International Airport (YPDN) in Northern Australia. Sperling found Australia exceptionally friendly to pilots. There is a legal mechanism making it relatively simple to transfer FAA privileges to the Australian airspace system. Renting an airplane during an Australian vacation sounds fantastic!
Sperling and Groff refueled in Alice Springs (YBAS) near the middle of the country before concluding their adventure at Moorabbin Airport (YMMB) near Melbourne, Australia. The entire adventure covered almost 13,500nm in two weeks.
We are impressed with Dr. Sperling’s airmanship. The journey needed lots of planning, stamina, knowledge of regulations and skill, but the return on his investment is a string of memories and stories he will enjoy for a lifetime.
Flying makes the whole world small enough to explore. Sperling’s international adventure reminds pilots everywhere that, for us, the sky has no limits.
Josh Smith is a blogger at Executive Flyers Aviation, a leading flight school in the Boston area.