Flying around the world: a profound meaning

Published: 30.1.2012

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Flying around the world: a profound meaning

Biologist, environmentalist and photographer-pilot Matevž Lenarčič began his flight around the world, called the Green Light World Flight, on 8 January 2012. He set off on his journey with the Virus SW 914, an ultra light plane produced in Slovenia, with which he intends to prove it is possible to complete such a flight differently – with lower fuel consumption and less pollution. The journey is going according to plan and the first readings of black carbon are already available.

Flying around the world: a profound meaning

Biologist, environmentalist and photographer-pilot Matevž Lenarčič began his flight around the world, called the Green Light World Flight, on 8 January 2012. He set off on his journey with the Virus SW 914, an ultra light plane produced in Slovenia, with which he intends to prove it is possible to complete such a flight differently – with lower fuel consumption and less pollution. The journey is going according to plan and the first readings of black carbon are already available.

1 light aircraft - 290kg, around the world – westbound, 6 equator crossings, over 80,000 kilometres, 7 continents, 120 National Parks, 3 Oceans, the Antarctic, Mt. Everest, minimum unleaded fuel, new aerial images… these represent some brief statistics of the flight. The flight, its progress, thoughts and impressions of the pilot and photos can be seen here; however, we are highlighting some aspects of the flight in the continuation.

Let us remind you that this is a NEW STORY of a round-the-world flight – this time westwards. It is a NEW MISSION – to feel what is going on with the planet through the flight. It is a NEW CHALLENGE – testing completely new dimensions of the world’s most economical plane. And it includes NEW RESEARCH – measuring black carbon in places where such measurements have not been performed yet or have only been carried out to a minimum extent.

NEW STORY - On the way around the world
The tiny ultra light Virus-SW914, made by the world-renowned company Pipistrel, weighs only 290kg and is the fastest aircraft in the world in its category, using less fuel per distance flown. Its abilities have been proven in two NASA sponsored competitions in the USA, where for two consecutive years the aircraft received prestigious awards for its exceptional flight characteristics. The aircraft is produced under the Pipistrel brand Ecolution, meaning 100% autonomous energy production with optimized, computer-controlled acquisition of green energy (solar, air and geothermal).

NEW MISSION - Look at the images - feel the planet
Flying around the world in a small airplane has profound meaning − the project is going to show very different faces of water and warn the world that lack of water brings even more tension to society than oil trade.

NEW CHALLENGE - In an eco-friendly light aircraft
GreenLight WorldFlight faces Pipistrel and the pilot with a number of challenges, including flying 4,000 km without landing. In addition, the fuel consumption must remain at very low levels. More challenges are to fly over Mount Everest, survive the icy cold conditions of the Antarctic at minus 50 degrees Celsius as well as the 50 plus degrees Celsius heat from passing over the Equator six times. So far, this is the only aircraft with such capabilities, so Pipistrel sets new standards in environmentally-friendly and utility flying.

NEW RESEARCH - Providing valuable information on black carbon
Part of Green Light World Flight is also measurement of black carbon concentration. The project will demonstrate that a lightweight aircraft can provide valuable information on black carbon concentrations, their regional heterogeneity and vertical profiles with a minor payload and for a fraction of the cost associated with large airborne platforms. The aircraft has been modified to include an aerosol inlet and uses an Aethalometer to measure aerosol optical properties at different wavelengths. However, the wavelength dependence of absorption enables us to distinguish between two major sources of black carbon: biomass and fossil fuel combustion. The results will therefore not only include concentrations of black carbon at the elevation of the flight, but also the source locations. Measurements are constantly performed throughout the flight and include regions where no or very little measurements have taken place, such as Antarctica, Africa and over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The results will contribute to our understanding of the greenhouse effect. The Slovenian Jožef Stefan Institute is also involved in the project, studying the effects of extreme temperature and hypoxic environment on the body.

Have a look at the first results of the black carbon measurements here.

More about the project: www.worldgreenflight.com.

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