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Out to set a world record aboard a motorised glider

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Mandira Nayar

An extraordinary Indian Air Force trip with a mission

NEW DELHI: Flying for over 250 hours sitting in a cramped cockpit over the greens, blues and browns of world, this is an Indian Air Force trip with a mission -- circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a midget-sized Super Dimona motorised glider. Out to create a world record, this will be the first time that an Indian would have ever dared to throw caution to the winds in quite such a way.

"It will not be an easy trip. It is usually a bumpy ride on this aircraft. This is the first time that it will be done in a light single engine. We hope to be able to fly six to seven hours every day. If we don't rest, manage good weather and don't get sick, then we should be able to do this in 56 days. But we will be taking breaks and hope to be able to do this in 80 days,'' said team-leader Wing Commander Rahul Monga here on Monday.

Having flown around India aboard a micro-light, Wg. Cdr. Monga decided to raise the bar much more to circumnavigate the world. Constantly battling nausea and travelling extremely light, this trip will really test the endurance of the team. Only three pilots in the world have succeeded so far and the world record stands at 81 days.

"Most of the critical legs will be solo, as the aircraft will be too heavy with all the life-saving equipment. At other times there will be a co-pilot. In Russia, we will have to take a Russian co-pilot as most of the radio instructions are in Russians. We will be fighting jetlag all the time and unlike regular passengers we will have to do everything ourselves from pushing the plane into a hanger to even repairing it,'' he explained.

With manual controls, the pilot will have to be alert at all times which will be far from easy. "We can't fly over 10,000 feet as then we will require oxygen and that will be too heavy. The problem is that flying for so long for days on end can be boring so that is something that we have to overcome. It will also be very cold while flying over the Arctic as all we have is a tiny blower,'' he said.

Flying off on May 1, the team has worked out a route so that they can fly over the least number of countries so that they have to avoid visas and permission. They will also try to avoid flying over North Canada as it is all barren.

"We will be sleeping at airports to save time. So we will just pitch a tent and spend the night,'' said Wg. Cdr. Monga.

A tough ride to get over, Indians will be able to track the flight on a website.

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