On 13th October, a Royal Air Force team led by Wing Commander Chris Pote will start flying from Great Britain to New Zealand, tracing a route used by the intrepid early aviation pioneers as they paved the way for modern air travel. They will be doing it in a small 2-seat aircraft built by Chris, of similar size and capability as those used by the pioneers. Celebrating the Royal Air Force’s 100th birthday, the team aims to re-visit many of the airfields used by the RAF over the last century, commemorating those who have gone before them and celebrating a history rich in achievements. The team will aim to inspire the next generation, visiting many schools and youth organisations to encourage youngsters to see the opportunities made possible by studying STEM subjects and pursuing adventurous activities.
The aircraft is an Aeropro Eurofox that weighs only 300 kg. The kit was manufactured in Slovakia, then built by Chris in the UK. The crew will fly 25 hops between the historic airfields for up to 12 hours at a time. They will at times battle weather, air traffic control, bureaucracy and the local environment; determination, resourcefulness, skills and knowledge will all be required, their RAF training will be invaluable.
At various points throughout the route, one member of crew will change over. Rachel Nugent from the Met Office will co-pilot the first section to Cyprus then Wing Commander Kev Gatland, a Tornado Navigator, will fly with Chris to India. At that point Squadron Leader Emma Landy, a former search and rescue pilot, will complete the first part of the expedition to Australia. After a short break, Chris and Officer Cadet Abby McGill from Yorkshire University Air Squadron will resume the expedition across Australia to New Zealand. As a final challenge, a world first will be attempted; to fly across the 1300 mile wide Tasman Sea non-stop in an aircraft weighing only 500kg (including fuel and the pilot).
You can follow the expedition, including a live tracker, at www.gb-nz.com on facebook as RAF 100 GB-NZ Expedition and on twitter as @raf100_gbnz