Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

British man begins round-the-world gyrocopter attempt

James Ketchell departed from Popham Airfield on Sunday

Mr Ketchell was planning to stop in Dubai on his trip. AFP
Mr Ketchell was planning to stop in Dubai on his trip. AFP

A British man has set off on a solo six-month journey around the world in an open-cockpit gyrocopter.

James Ketchell, 36, from Basingstoke departed from Popham Airfield in Hampshire on Sunday afternoon, waved off by hundreds of well-wishers.

Mr Ketchell is hoping to raise money for charity and inspire the younger generation with the feat, which will see him pass through Russia, Canada and Japan, covering almost 37,000 kilometres. He plans to speak at a school in every country he passes through.

"I would like this mission to convey to young people that every single person has the ability to be whoever they want to be and do whatever they want to do,” he told the BBC.

The charities Mr Ketchell’s endeavour will support are UK children’s charity Over The Wall and anti-trafficking organisation Kindled Spirit.

The gyrocopter can only travel 700 miles per journey at a speed of 70 knots and the open cockpit means he will directly face a range of fierce weather conditions.

“It’s doable, but I’m just taking it day by day. It’ll probably take me about six months, that’s the plan,” he told the Guardian.

This isn’t Mr Ketchell’s first record-breaking challenge. In 2014, he became the first person to have rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, summited Mount Everest and cycled 18,000 miles around the world, in a feat he called ‘the ultimate triathlon’.

Mr Ketchell had help planning the route from General Aviation Support Egypt, who planned an initial route via Pakistan and Dubai. Unfortunately the route had to be changed due to renewed tensions between India and Pakistan resulting in airspace restrictions, so the team helped plot a new route via Russia.

Updated: April 2, 2019 12:42 PM

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