One planet, one people, one plane: Aviator stops in Fairbanks on his mission of world peace
One planet, one people, one plane. That is the mission of a "citizen of the world" who made a stop in Fairbanks to discuss his journey of peace with a local aviators' club.
The Midnight Sun 99s, the Fairbanks chapter of an international organization of women pilots, meets once a month in the East Ramp Wood Fired Pizza establishment to discuss their love of aviation.
On Saturday, however, the women were introduced to a man who has the same passion for flying as they do, as well as a passion for bringing peace to a divided world.
Robert DeLaurentis, also known as the "peace pilot'" or "Zen Pilot", has been flying from the North Pole to the South pole in a technologically enhanced Gulf Stream turbine commander 900 airplane.
For well over an hour on Saturday, DeLaurentis met and talked to the members of The Midnight Sun 99s about his journey, so far.
Barbara Pierson, a member of the women's aviation club, said the significance of the trip is the combination of technology, partnership and bringing the world closer through aviation. "This is a chance to see technology, a lot of collaboration, a lot of vision... to be able to say 'this is a chance for us to bring us all together from Pole to Pole'," Pierson said.
The plane has a combination of technologies to help it withstand the extreme flying conditions, as well as the long distances. The fuselage is not filled with passengers, but with six fuel tanks.
The Gulf Stream has predator drone engines allowing for high fuel efficiency, and the propellers were custom made for the mission.
Despite the state of the art technology, DeLaurentis has met challenges from keeping the fuel warm in sub-zero temperatures, to convincing the government of Spain to let him leave the country to study the potential of the COVID-19 virus adhering to plastic particles in the air.
DeLaurentis says generally he is received well in the countries where he has made stops, and although there are complications, it is the collaboration of not only sponsors, but friends and family that keeps the mission going. "What I've learned from that is that cooperation is the best way to handle something like this. In our society, especially in the United States, we are taught to compete. But I think this trip has taught me that you can accomplish a lot more with cooperation, because no single person can do this on their own."
After the overall trip, DeLaurantis is going to finish his docu-series, called "Peace Pilot: To the ends of the Earth and Beyond" and the plane will become a mobile STEM lab.