San Diego Peace Pilot Completes Pole-to-Pole Circumnavigation During Pandemic
Nine months and several “pandemic pauses” after take-off on a planned five-month global Pole-to-Pole peace mission, “One Planet, One People, One Plane: Oneness for Humanity,” San Diego pilot and former Naval officer, Robert DeLaurentis, returned home in his highly modified 1983 twin-engine aircraft, “Citizen of the World.”
DeLaurentis set out on a record-setting 26,000 mile, 22-country, six-continent flight to connect the only two places on the planet where there has always been peace: the North and South poles. Along the way, he interviewed NGO leaders and local residents for an upcoming documentary “Peace Pilot to the Ends of the Earth and Beyond,” asking them, “What does it mean to be a ‘Citizen of the World for the World’?”
In addition, Robert also set multiple first-time aviation innovation records including:
- Successfully used biofuels over the North and South poles for the first time ever
- Longest distance flown in a twin or single engine turboprop—17.5 hours
- First and fastest Polar circumnavigation of the planet in a twin or single engine turboprop
- First testing for plastic microfibers across the globe including over the South and North poles
- First testing of NASA WaferScale Spaceship outside of Santa Barbara
“I took the biggest chance of my life with this Pole to Pole peace mission,” said DeLaurentis. “It was certainly the riskiest flight I ever set out on, with more opportunities for failure than I’d ever experienced. Add in a coronavirus pandemic that was not on the route schedule and having to navigate different countries’ lockdown policies and count on the goodwill of people whose language I didn’t speak was daunting at times. But I learned more about what it truly means to be a “Citizen of the World” and the power of peace—both inner peace and peace between people and countries—than I ever dreamed possible.”
A bumpy flight…
After successfully navigating a loss of communication and potential military intervention from Chile while flying over the South Pole, DeLaurentis then headed North stopping in South Africa and Kenya, the Republic of Georgia and then on to his ancestor’s home country of Italy just as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Italy and lockdown was imminent.
With friends, family, sponsors, and others telling him to cancel his mission of peace and return home, DeLaurentis doubled down, decided to continue, and flew to the next closest country that was still open—Spain. As the Pandemic spread, Spain became the epicenter of the coronavirus in Europe.
DeLaurentis self-quarantined and had to move three times — from a monastery to a hotel to a private residence — but he never gave up hope or his mission of peace. Once Spain eased restrictions, he continued on to Sweden, waiting another month for permission to fly back to the U.S.
Transformation in a time of uncertainty
With the help of friends, he repaired a burst fuel tank and waited for the North Pole to warm up so his plane’s fuel didn’t gel in the subzero temperatures. After several tense days waiting for permission to fly back into the United States, he was cleared to land in Alaska.
While flying over the North Pole, he encountered an unexpected loss of communication, loss of the two primary GPS units, the autopilot, and the two altitude and heading reference systems for a harrowing eight hours of the 11.5 hour flight and was forced to reroute his landing from Dead Horse, Alaska to Fairbanks due to intense fog.
After testing negative for COVID-19 and leaving Alaska, DeLaurentis flew “Citizen of the World” to its final stopover in Seattle, Wash., which included a documentary interview with aviation innovator, Erik Lindbergh, grandson of aviation legend, Charles Lindbergh, and CEO of Powering Imagination (promoting sustainable aviation) and co-founder of VerdeGo Aero electric propulsion systems.
“There is a transformation unfolding in this time of uncertainty,” said DeLaurentis. “I’m optimistic and believe we are awakening to who we truly are. This is a time of rebirth and new beginnings for those who have felt trapped or stagnant. It is a global reset — not just on the planet, but in ourselves as well — and will bring us all together as One Planet and One People: Oneness for Humanity.”
That’s an adventure of a lifetime – congratulations, Robert!