Texas Ex Flies Around the World in 76 Days

Around the world in 76 days

After 76 days, 67 airports, 20 countries, more than 35,000 miles, and 2,500-plus gallons of gas, Wolf Schroen, BBA ’98, Life Member, has completed one of his lifetime goals. He and his co-pilot, Johannes Burges, successfully circumnavigated the globe in Schroen’s 1997 Mooney airplane, named Maggie.

“It happened considerably earlier than I thought it would,” Schroen says, referring to the completion of his adventure. When Schroen isn’t flying around the world, he runs a bike tour business out of Berlin.

Pilot & Flugzeug, a German aviation magazine, facilitated an informal program for pilots wanting to fly around the world, including a loose route plan. A total of nine airplanes ended up participating in the opportunity.

Of them, Maggie was the only one of her kind and by far the smallest. Schroen bought Maggie specifically for this trip and was interested in her recently rebuilt motor, advanced GPS technology, and flight range.

“In some regards, [the other participants] were all a team, but oftentimes we were left to our own devices,” Schroen says. “Pilot & Flugzeug loosely helped put a fire under people’s butts. In a lot of ways it was like having an older brother along for the ride.”

Beginning on August 17 in Munich, Schroen and Burges headed west to complete their journey on November 2. While Schroen and Burges were nearly inseparable during their trip, the two had met at the orientation for the Pilot & Flugzeug program. After meeting only a couple times, Schroen asked Burges to become his co-pilot.

“We just randomly sat next to each other in a room of 60 people,” Schroen says. “The key for me was that he’s the kind of guy you want to grab a beer with after you land, the kind who can really enjoy this trip with.”

The co-pilot situation might have worked itself out by happenstance, but that doesn’t mean the trip was clear skies every day. Sudden repairs were called for a few times throughout the trip, including a dead airplane battery replaced by improvising with two car batteries. Maggie’s specific type of fuel, called avgas, is difficult to find outside the U.S., much to Schroen’s surprise. This occasionally left the pilots in unforeseen predicaments when Maggie was empty and avgas was nowhere to be found.

“If we had known then what we know now, we might have said we weren’t totally ready,” Schroen says. “But you just put one step in front of the other. We faced some serious challenges. But, you just keep going and hope everything continues.”

Despite a few bumps, Schroen and Burges also had plenty of time for fun. The pair spent most nights in hotels and their free time sightseeing, meeting new people, and enjoying the views from several thousand feet above the ground. Schroen detailed his adventures on his blog.

The return back to life on solid ground was a bit of an adjustment. But appreciating the experience, challenges and all, has come easily.

“There’s only one way to fly, and that’s forward,” Schroen says.

Photo courtesy Wolf Schroen.


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