Around the World Flight to End Polio gets ready for take-off

IFFR members Peter Teahen and John Ockenfels are getting ready for their flight around the globe to raise awareness for polio eradication. On May 5 2023, they will take off from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA, in a Cessna T210M (single engine) plane, registration N732WP. They will be flying over 25,000 miles in around 150 flying hours. Along the way, they will encourage support of ending polio forever throughout the world. Do please support them with your donations.

​Peter and John are aiming to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Rotary Foundation’s End Polio Now campaign which is getting close to achieving worldwide eradication of the Wild Polio virus. In addition to all the planning and the preparations, they have found time to talk to other Rotarians, to the Rotary E-Club of Aviation and the Scandinavian Section of the Flying Rotarians at their February Zoom meeting.

John announced the trip at the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany in 2019. The promise was made then that they would pay for all of the expenses themselves and 100% of the money raised would go to PolioPlus. Polio eradication has been a primary focus of Rotary for over 35 years and continues to be a major initiative. While the end of polio may be near, no child anywhere is safe until every child has been vaccinated. For years, Rotarians have used the phrase “Polio is only a plane ride away“, and so John and Peter adopted the phrase “Stopping Polio is only a plane ride away“!

Unfortunately, the pandemic thwarted their plans, halting their departure which was just 10 days away. Once the world opened up again, 5 May 2023 became the new departure date. A new route was planned through Canada and Greenland to Europe. From there, into Asia, including Pakistan, Thailand, Singapore and then north east through the Philippines, Japan, and Russia, crossing back into the United States via the Bering Strait. However, 2022 invasion of Russia resulted in the closure of Russian airspace to US registered aircraft and Peter and John were forced to plan their route again. Now, after Thailand, the intrepid duo will head south to Australia and then route home via the Pacific Island to Hawaii. From there they will make the longest leg of the trip, approximately 14 hours across the water to San Diego.

John and Peter’s route around the world

Peter and John are both highly experience pilots and very active Rotarians. Peter has been flying for over 47 years and John for 43. Peter has served in leadership roles on sixty-seven major disasters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, Sri Lanka, Haiti, and the Darfur Region of Sudan.  He responded to the September 11th World Trade Center attack, Hurricane Katrina, Indonesian Tsunami in 2004, and the Haiti Earthquake in 2010.  John is a member of Iowa City AM Rotary Club and a Past District Governor for Rotary District 6000. In 2021, John was one of only three Rotarians worldwide to be awarded the 2020-2021 “International Service Award for a Polio-Free World” by The Rotary Foundation.

The 1977 Cessna T210M Centurion they will be flying started life with the standard fuel capacity of a Centurion, 90 US gallons, of which 89 are usable. The typical fuel burn of 17 gallons per hour allows for a 4.5 hour flight with a 45 minute reserve. N732WP has been modified with tip tanks on each wing which will provide an additional 33 gallons of available gas in the wings.  But now it is being further modified. The rear seats have been removed and a 165 gallon capacity “TurtlePac” fuel bladder has been installed specifically for the flight, bringing total fuel capacity to 281 gallons or approximately 19 hours of flight time.

Fitted with a Teledyne Continental 310 horse power engine, the maximum take off weight will be 4,000 lbs. Cruising speed will be approximately 165 knots. During the trip, anticipated to take around 3 months, approximately 40% of the fuel will be hand pumped from 55 gallon fuel drums specially shipped via rail, truck, and ship to the needed location.

John and Peter have published much more information about the trip on their Flight to End Polio website – and you can find out the facts about Polio too. You can also follow them on Facebook.

Once they depart, you will be able to tack their progress on FlightAware, on FlightRadar24, or on AirNav RadarBox.

And please, please, please, do MAKE A DONATION to help them, and all Rotarians to END POLIO NOW! Remember that thanks to the generosity of the Gates Foundation, each dollar you donate to the Rotary Foundation Polio Plus Programme is matched 2:1! Put simply, you donate $1, Polio Plus receives $3!

John, Peter, we wish you safe travels, good tailwinds and a successful flight around the globe

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