Biologist, environmentalist and adventurer, Matevz Lenarcic, is preparing for an attempt at setting a record for flying the lightest plane around the world, with the least amount of fuel.
And during the flight, he’ll be taking scientific measurements from regions where little data has been gathered before.
He expects the journey, starting from his home base in Slovenia, will take about two months to complete.
Lenarcic overviews the purpose of his flight:
“The flight will take place across the southern hemisphere and cover a distance of some 100,000 km, crossing the Equator six times, all three oceans, Antarctica, Mt. Everest and some 120 national parks. So this is also an opportunity to take great photographs, to educate and send a message to people that our planet is truly wonderful and that it pays to preserve by any means.”
The plane is capable of flying at an altitude of up to 10,000 meters in both tropical and polar temperatures.
Engineers from the light aircraft company, Pipistrel, modified an existing design to be as lightweight and fuel-efficient as possible, giving the plane a range of about 4,000 kilometers and a takeoff weight of 750 kg.
When Matevz flies over the Antarctic and Africa, the plane’s onboard equipment will record levels of black carbon in the atmosphere, by taking samples through an inlet under the wings.
Biologist, Grisa Mocnik, helped assemble the instruments:
“During his flight around the world, Matevz will carry out measurements of black carbon. Black carbon is a scientific name for soot. Soot is important because it’s the second most important agent of climate change, right behind carbon dioxide. It’s black, it absorbs sunlight and, because of that, warms the atmosphere.”
Matevz has flown around the world in a lightweight Pipstrel aircraft before – it won a NASA-sponsored award for fuel efficiency.
This time he hopes to do better, traveling further with less fuel while promoting clean energy along the way.