As I take one final look back on 2011 and The Flight for the Human Spirit, I am amazed at how many miles have been logged behind Hope One. This amazing REMOS aircraft now holds four world records and one national aviation record. With nearly 30,000 miles logged and 180 airports, I have to pinch myself sometimes to remind myself that it is all real. Of course, I just need to sit down with my log book to spend a few minutes thumbing through it to see that it really did happen.
2011 was certainly a year to regroup from all of the flying of the summer of 2010. It was also a time to gather data and practice for the upcoming world record attempts of 2012. Flying from Riverside, CA to St Augustine was certainly a thrill and I met some incredible people along the way. Everyone recognizes the logo for The Flight, and have come to appreciate the scope of what anyone can do if you only believe in your dreams. It has been humbling to receive e-mails and letters literally from every corner of the world. They know of you and I in China, Russia, South America, Canada, Europe, Australia, Africa, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Japan, Mexico, and every place in between. This point was driven home last summer at the AirVenture Event in Oshkosh, WI. I had a young woman from Russia come up to spend some time with Hope One. She had read about it in the magazine articles and had followed our every mile, it was truly a moving experience for her as she rubbed the cowling and posed for a picture, before leaving she reached in and softly laid her hand on the pilot's seat. Another gentleman from China touched the logo and began to cry quietly to himself. Upon speaking to him about it, he said that it was a great source of inspiration for him to begin his flying journey and that he was enjoying the articles in Global Flying Magazine.
I spoke more in 2011 than in any time in my life and have introduced many to the world of aviation. As one person in Colorado told me, "We've made aviation touchable and it no longer holds a mystique about it." To me, that is what it is about...showing others that life is worth living and that whatever you dream of can be "touchable." My speaking topics outside of aviation are now geared toward achieving your greatest potential, while staying in touch with those attributes that are the most important to living a more fulfilling life along the way. It was also a year of recovery for the old check book. If you have been following The Flight since the beginning, then you know that it was a grass roots project all along the way. Our daily costs, fuel expenses, insurance, lodging, transportation, and all of the other stuff that goes into traveling certainly left their mark... yet somehow the funds were always there when they were needed the most. Stepping back and scheduling flights and appearances was a true joy for Michele and I as we realized at the same time that we have touched nearly 26 million people around the world with the message that it is "Never EVER too late to follow your dreams."
Looking now at 2012 on the calendar just makes me excited to think of what is coming in the next twelve short months. This is the year when we will attempt to set four new world records, three in Hope One, and another in a different aircraft. In June I will attempt to fly coast to coast by Sport Pilot rules while setting a world record. It will involve a great deal of coordination and a large portion of cooperation from the weather. We will soon be announcing the route, but will first enlist the help of fans for suggestions. It will be an incredible flight that will not only test courage, but the endurance of the REMOS and Rotax engine as it is pushed to fly fourteen hours or more each flight day. This of course is after it has already flown further than around the world.
The journey to Hawaii looks very promising in 2012. In spite of many, many, many, attempts to get the attention of the right corporate sponsor to step up, or a serious publisher to advance funds, there are quite a few e-mails and letters that have apparently been sent to a huge black hole that swallows them up, for it's been tough to get the attention of those decision makers. That's okay though, as I've said many times you can't name a project "The Flight for the Human Spirit" and then give up sometime along the way. For sure, it would be a sad reflection on mankind. In spite of these rejections, we've got a solid plan to reach Hawaii which I'll discuss in another article, but needless to say, I'm about 95% certain that Hope One will touch down in Honolulu in 2012. That monumental landing will mark the end of The Flight and solidify her place in aviation history. We already are receiving many offers of support once we arrive to the islands and I know that it will be a very celebrated event for all of us. You won't want to miss a moment of the plan as it unfolds.
Of course, Hawaii will happen after flying coast to coast at least three times this year while logging many more thousands of miles and attending a record number of airshows. So far we are scheduled for the large Sun n Fun event in Florida in a few months and we are getting invitations to attend other events that we are putting on the calendar. So please don't hesitate to let us know if you have an opening at a pancake breakfast, an airshow, a corporate event, or festival. This is a project of the people, and Hope One is a treasure both in and out of aviation circles, so let's celebrate this year with encouragement and strength.
I wish you abundant blessings in this New Year.