Global Flyer: Around the World in 80 Flying Days

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In 1998, two men set off to fly a microlight around the world; 120 days later, one man came back in it. Global Flyer is Brian Milton’s thrilling account of the first flight around the world by microlight aircraft, no more than a large kite with a motorbike slung underneath.

He and a friend of 20 years, Keith Reynolds, set out to race their little aircraft around the world in 80 days, chasing the ghost of Phileas Fogg. They were buzzed ten times by a MiG-21 jet fighter trying to get out of Syria, but the MiG didn’t shoot so they were able to reach Jordan. In the Saudi Desert, the engine “blew up” seven times, discharging all their cooling fluid.

They twice landed in the dark, and then changed their engine, which still blew up. It was only by rigging a Heath Robinson cooling system, tie-wrapping the radiator to an undercarriage leg and sending an Arab fireman out with $50 to find 8 feet of tubing and six clips, that they were able to get away. Their first test-flight was across 300 miles of Persian Gulf. They crossed India plagued by a heat-wave, and 800 miles of jungle-covered mountains in Burma, Laos and Vietnam. China held them up, then Japan, and then – for 26 days – the Russian authorities. Keith had to fly by airliner to Alaska while a Russian navigator took his place, but Keith lost heart in Anchorage and went home.

This left Brian to cross 3,000 miles of Siberia, sometimes covered in ice, with a Russian stranger in the back. From Nome, Alaska, Brian flew on alone, down to San Francisco, chased by tornadoes across to New York, and then the first solo west-east crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by microlight, where for three hours he was in a place “beyond fear”. The flight won Brian he Royal Aero Club’s Britannia Trophy, the Club’s highest award. He also gained the prestigious Segrave Trophy, once won by Amy Johnston.

Brian’s route around the world

Reviews of Global Flyer

“It was an amazing achievement, of dogged bloody-minded tenacity and the taking of some huge risks by a man who was fighting his fear and, at times, just about everyone around him. It was a great adventure.”-Sir Chris Bonington in Quest for Adventure: Remarkable Feats of Exploration and Adventure 1950-2000.

“The book succeeds as a ‘ripping yarn’ but does so on other levels too. There is the thread of a political thriller, with various approaches by Richard Branson to influence the adventure. This is a microlighting classic that should be on every microlighter’s shelf. It may even rank among other travel classics.”-David Bremner, Editor, Microlight Flying.