Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Youngest solo pilot around the world stuck in Japan because of weather conditions

Jack Wiegand continues to be in Sapporo, Japan due to bad weather conditions Wednesday June 19th. He is now expected to take the 11 hour / 1,800 nautical mile flight from Sapporo to Adak Island, Alaska Thursday (20th June) and Anchorage mainland Alaska, Friday (21st June) all things being equal!  This is off course subject to weather conditions and flight permission on going. 

Jack has to get over to Kushiro Airport on the east end of Hokkaido Island first - his jumping off point from Japan. But Kushiro had very poor weather, low ceilings, fog, drizzle at present. Essentially this is the launch for Adak in the Aleutian Islands. Aleutian weather is barely predictable at any time to allow for this his support team work with weather forecasts that look ahead seven days.
Jack Wiegand flying high soon (photo

The big issue has been the development and movement of a low pressure system just offshore from Hokkaido and moving nearly in the exact direction of Jack's flight. Precipitation, low visibilities, and high clouds with icing make for a no-no go.  Icing sticks to the airframe, propeller, and anything else sticking out of the aircraft. It then gets heavy, and it changes the airfoil of the wing so that one loses lift. Jack has an anti-icing system on board but reports over the years from veterans of the north globe say that icing in the Aleutians forms and sticks worse than maybe anywhere on the globe. So the plan was to avoid getting into those conditions. 

His support team look at the weather forecasts throughout the week, day by day, probably even hourly to make sure his decision continues to be a good one. And just in case the weather improves in spite of the forecasts Jack would be ready to launch. 

Source Harold Gallagher Jack's flight instructor and sometime weather forecaster!

International media enquiries to

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Tuk tuk travellers / education campaigners conclude Indian sojourn with a visit to Kolkata

Two UK based educational campaigners who are travelling the world in a tuk tuk are concluding their trip across the sub-continent with a visit to Kolkata. They have been visiting educational and developmental projects, conducting academic research, documenting their experience and raising awareness of the Global Campaign for Education and funds in support of education. They have identified two projects they are intending to work with in India and these are:
  • Kat Katha, working in the red light district of Delhi, providing non-formal educational opportunities to sex workers there and their children.
  • Sakhi for Girls Education, providing young girls in the slums on Mulund, Mumbai, after school learning opportunities through a book bank and learning centre to improve confidence and further academic progress. 
According to Nick Gough and Rich Sears "both projects are truly inspirational examples of local people standing up and responding to the educational challenges facing their communities."

Highlights / challenges of their Indian sojourn
The highlight of their Indian sojourn according to Nick and Rich were "the incredibly friendly people, rushing to our aid when our tuk tuk's had any problems."  Other high points they mentioned were "the beautiful cities of Jodhpur and Udaipur and the amazing food."  The Indian trip was topped off with the traditional tourist visit to the Taj Mahal. The greatest challenge they said "was the heat - dealing with the aggressive humidity of pre-monsoon India has been emotional." The other challenge was the famously erratic Indian driving, particularly "getting used to vehicles flying at us from all angles!" said Nick and Rich.
Tuk Tuk Travels passing through a Rajasthan village, India 

Where they went in India
After arriving in Mumbai their first stop was visit Piaggio 3-wheeler factory in Baramati to pay homage to the birthplace of their tuk tuk. They then travelled north from Mumbai, through Udaipur to Jodhpur, then east to Jaipur, Agra, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, then north again into Nepal. On the final leg they travelled back through West Bengal to Kolkata from where they will ship to SE Asia.

How they got to indian
They arrived in India after shipping their tuk tuk from Capetown, South Africa to Mumbai. They have travelled through 29 countries crossing Europe. the Middle East, Africa and much of India and Nepal. Traversing the length of Africa in a tuk tuk was no easy task.  In Northern Kenya and Western Tanzania, the team faced over 1000 miles of dirt tracks, where thick mud, deep sand and large rocks made progress painfully slow.  Despite such challenging terrain, the tuk tuk only sustained one flat tyre outside Paris and one snapped accelerator cable in Southern Africa.  Wherever the team were, it would not take long for a friendly passer-by to come and lend a hand. Nick and Rich also had some close run-ins with wildlife too - we were almost charged by and elephant in Uganda and then again Botswana. They are first team to drive a tuk tuk the length of Africa recording their achievement on the beach at the Cape of Good Hope, in South Africa. While in Africa Nick and Rich uncovered some inspirational projects across and witnessed firsthand the extent of the educational challenges facing the continent today.  They joined street children in slums of Cairo, Khartoum and Kampala; visited Congolese refugees in camps in Eastern Burundi; and saw how education can help foster peace and reconciliation in Rwanda after meeting two young genocide survivors in Kigali.

What next and the world record
After India they will head for Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and back down to Singapore. They will then ship the tuk tuk to Los Angeles, in the USA before starting a tour of South America starting with Mexico. They will have have covered over 20,000 miles on arrival in Kolkata, closing in on the current world record for the longest journey in a tuk tuk. The current world record stands at 23,245 miles (37,410km). On arrival in Mexico they hope have broken the world record for distance travelled in a tuk tuk.  The expedition is sponsored by Cardiff University and shipping the tuk tuk from Africa to India and then onwards to Singapore and the USA is supported by DSV Global Transport and Logistics.
International media enquiries to