Fly around the world in 80 days in a tiny, single engine plane—that’s what two Canadian pilots plan to do on an epic globe-circling trip to raise half a million dollars for charity.
In their “Round the World 80” trip, Dave McElroy and Chris Elgar will circle the globe to raise $500,000 for two charities in two countries: research on autism at Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital (SickKids), and the Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) in Perth, Scotland.
McElroy, who has lived in Scotland for the past 15 years, will set off from Toronto Island Airport on May 12 in a single engine Piper Comanche. After stopping in Goose Bay, Greenland, and Iceland, he will cross the Atlantic Ocean to Perth, where a separate launch for the expedition is scheduled for May 19.
The journey will include around 60 stops in 25 countries on six continents, crossing all the major oceans and most of the world’s climactic zones, from arctic to desert to temperate.
McElroy, 66, says that as he was approaching retirement, he decided he finally had time to do something worthwhile that would help others. When he told Elgar about his plan to travel the world in an RV to raise funds for charity, Elgar responded: “Why don’t the two of us go in the Comanche?”
Elgar owns the four-seater Comanche the pair will use during the 80-day trip.
The charities chosen are meaningful on several levels. McElroy has two grandsons with Asperger Syndrome (a mild form of autism), and he says that some of the world’s best research on autism spectrum is being done by Dr. Stephen Scherer at SickKids.
The SCAA uses helicopters to pick up patients in remote areas of Scotland and take them to urban treatment facilities, an important service that is funded solely by donations.
“They’re both life-saving charities, and they’re both very significant and both very deserving,” says McElroy.
The plan is for McElroy to do most of the flying. Elgar will take over in Singapore, fly through Indonesia to Australia, around the perimeter of Australia, and disembark in Brisbane completing a total of 10 stops in 9 days.
One of the biggest challenges, says McElroy, is staying awake while flying over vast expanses of ocean where nothing much changes for hours on end, except possibly the weather.
“There are times I may be relying on some heavy metal to keep me awake,” he joked.
Donations are welcome and anyone who donates $25,000 can take the co-pilot’s seat for one of 13 legs of the journey. McElroy will fly alone for a couple of the legs, one being between Honolulu and San Diego—the longest hop on the trip—when the plane will be heavy with fuel.
McElroy says all the funds needed to cover the cost of the expedition are already in place, a result of corporate donations plus generous contributions by the two pilots.
“Every penny that comes in goes directly to one [or the other] of the two charities,” he notes.
Some unique post-flight fundraisers are also in the plans. Nova Scotian artist Yana Movchan has donated a painting called “The Fly” that will be auctioned for SickKids. And McElroy will wear a donated Pangborne watch, worth approximately $20,000, during the flight that will be auctioned in Perth after the trip for the Scottish charity.
For more information or to make a donation, visit flyrtw80.com