If one wants to circumnavigate the planet in a general aviation airplane, how can one do it and what are the important issues to consider?


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Circumnavigating the planet Earth very popular hobby and a courageous endeavor. It is not an easy task and requires extensive preparation, planning and training.

What is circumnavigation?
Travelling around an island, a continent, or the entire world is called circumnavigation.

What is considered global circumnavigation?
Crossing all meridians is not considered global circumnavigation. If you walk completely around either Pole, you have crossed all meridians, but this is not generally considered a circumnavigation.

A basic definition is a route which covers at least one great circle, and it passes through at least one pair of points of antipodal to each other.

What are requirements for circumnavigation by airplane?

  • The route should start and finish at the same point.
  • It should cross all meridians.
  • The course must be at least 22,858.729 miles (36,787.559 kilometers) long. This is length of Tropic of Cancer.
  • It must include set control points at latitudes outside the Arctic and Antarctic circles.


Do people do it?
Yes, a lot of people do it. Earth Rounders shares experiences of pilots who have flown around the world. It is categorized by engine types and solos etc.

What should I need to know?
A lot. Typically, people who flew around the world typically break their journey in 80-100 flights, or even more. It takes several months. Each flight of circumnavigation is significantly longer than a typical cross-country flight. It is much harder on many levels than an ordinary cross-country flight.

This website takes about the preparations thoroughly. It covers these section:

  • The Pilot
  • The Aircraft
  • Preparation
  • Survival equipment
  • The flight

Because of the longevity of this article, I am not duplicating it here as it contains all very useful information.

What are other people's experience?
There are many people who have thoroughly documented their journeys, the preparations, the hazards and difficulties they faced, and many pictures and videos. I am listing a few, which certainly are not the best ones, but give a decent idea about their trip.

  • $\begingroup$ Would a flight from A up a meridian to the north pole, down the opposite meridian to the south pole and then back up the original meridian to A qualify? (Ignoring the ridiculous terrain covered!) $\endgroup$
    – DJohnM
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 5:31

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