More info: http://solo2013.com/
University of Colorado-Boulder sophomore Jack Wiegand will have a lot of alone time over the next two months.
Wiegand plans to fly solo around the world starting May 1. His quest is to break the world record and become the youngest person to accomplish this lonely feat.
He swears he's not trying to "find himself" on the journey, rather it's just another accomplishment to add to his resume. He's also raising money with the flight to donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters and the International Agri-Center Ag Warriors, an organization that works to get veterans into long-term agriculture jobs.
"Doing a trip like this is another way to be successful," Wiegand said.
Before he left his home in Fresno, we managed to chat with Wiegand about the dangers of flying around the world alone and what he hopes to accomplish by doing it. He'll fly 21,000 nautical miles, cross three oceans and visit 14 different countries, with 24 stops.
How do you balance flying with schoolwork?
I'm taking the semester off in order to attend this trip. When I was in Colorado, I would fly at the flying school Journey's Aviation. It's about a 10-15 minute drive. I would usually fly twice a week.
What kind of ratings/licenses do you have?
I have a glider rating. That was the first license I got. Also a private pilot's license and I have an IFR rating, which is instrument flight rules.
When and why did you start flying?
I kind of always refer back to an old family friend who used to fly F16s out in Fresno. He would take us out to the airport and let us fly the simulator. That is what originally sparked my interest, and then even as a really young kid, I was always the one that wanted the window seat or the one that had his face pressed up against the glass in the terminal looking at all the planes. My parents don't fly. I don't have any family members that fly. It's just something I enjoy.
My 13th birthday present was an introductory glider flight. I fell in love with it. I started going out every weekend and training and flying whenever I could. On my 14th birthday, which is the youngest you're legally allowed to, I soloed a glider.
You're studying business at CU. What about making flying a career?
I don't ever want to make flying a career. I'm afraid if I make it a career, it'll lose the joy it has right now. I think I'd enjoy being a bush pilot in Alaska or Africa, but I never want to make it a full-time job.
Why did you decide to try to break the record for the youngest person to solo the world? Barrington Irving set the record in 2007 at age 23.
When I learned about the record, I would've thought it would be a lot younger. My mom and I went on this long cross-country trip from Fresno to Virginia, and that gave me more confidence in making long flights. About a year ago, I really started researching this around-the-world flight.
What kind of plane are you flying?
It's a Mooney Ovation2 GX. That doesn't mean much to the normal consumer, but it's kind of a rare plane in that it's not your typical Cessna or Piper. Someone who doesn't know about the plane would look at it and say you're absolutely crazy. This plane is a single-engine propeller and it's small and it doesn't hold a lot of gas. When you get down to it, it's a fairly good plane for this kind of trip.
How long will you fly each day?
The plane has a range capability of 2,400 nautical miles, which is about 12 to13 hours. My average flight will be from five to six hours a day.
Are your parents at all worried about you taking this trip alone?
They're not. They're so hands on with me on this kind of trip. They're helping in all ways possible. They've been supportive since my 13th birthday when they gave me that glider flight. When I take care of something, they get a little more comfortable.
What are some of the possible dangers to this trip?
There absolutely are dangers, and the way you keep yourself safe is by minimizing those dangers. For instance, it would be a bad idea to leave Colorado and fly through a snowstorm. You just don't do it. Some of the dangers are over the north Atlantic, where the water is literally freezing, and if you go down in it, it's not going to be fun. There's bad weather. There's political unrest in different countries that could be bad.
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.