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  • Writer's pictureMartijn

Sharing experiences in Naples, Florida

After having gone through immigration and customs at Miami Executive (KTMB), Alex and I were free to go wherever we wanted in the USA. We had chosen to go to Naples (Florida) to meet John Bone, a Cirrus round-the-worlder. John is based in Apalachicola (also Florida) but was traveling around the State with his wife Sherry in their motorhome.

We had first spoken to John in July 2020 via Zoom because his name was on the list of the Earthrounders website. Earthrounders is “a register of pilots who have flown around the world in light aircraft… that aims to inspire others who have similar flying dreams”. To belong to the group, your flights need to meet the following requirements:

  • Flights can originate in any country but must terminate at the point of departure.

  • All meridians should be crossed in a forward motion to close the circle (unless in a transpolar circumnavigation) but you do not necessarily need to cross the equator.

  • Flying round in a circle over the North Pole does not constitute a flight around the world. The flight must be made between the 2 Polar Circles (i.e between N 66° 33' and S 66° 33' ).

  • At least one of the pilots needs to have been on board for the entire circumnavigation.

  • The same aircraft has to be used for the totality of the flight.

  • All the legs around the World have to be flown.

  • Several flights, in different aircrafts, at different times, do not constitute a World flight

  • There is no time limit of duration.

There are records of the youngest pilot to have circumnavigated, the quickest circumnavigation etc… Alex and I are not aiming for any record and are very happy that there is no time limit. We are also not very efficient because it would have been shorter to fly around the Southern hemisphere (along latitude S 34°) starting in Buenos Aires and via South Africa, South of Australia, North of New Zealand and Chile but of course we wanted to go see all our friends and family in the Americas and Europe and on top of that: that would have been way too much water for our range and our mental health!

John flew around the world in 2017 in less than 60 days and took the unusual Westward route which has more headwinds and with super long legs over the Pacific.

Here is John in 2017 with his Switlik survival suit and Life jacket (we copied him)

He explained that he had chosen that route because of the milder weather since he flew in November and December. But he is already preparing his next circumnavigation -Eastwards this time, via Russia- for June this year. Looks like he will be re-using the orange suit.

Our flight to Naples (KAPF) was only about 35 minutes but it did give us the opportunity to see something that was in the news: fires in the Everglades, which is quite strange because the Everglades are wetlands, but apparently those too can catch fire. A TFR (Temporary flight restriction) area was already in place to let the firefighters do their job without distraction from other aircraft, and we carefully avoided it. After El Bolson (the hippie town in Argentina), this was the second fire I witnessed from the air this year.

John was waiting for us in the lobby of Naples Aviation FBO, I immediately recognized him because he was the only person wearing a multi-colored shirt. Almost all the others had white pilot shirts and I knew that John had had enough of those during his career as an airline pilot.

Currently, John runs a flight school called Forgotten Coast flyers which offers instruction but also trips to the Bahamas. He has extensive experience as shown on its website which also features his “ATW blog”.

  • Over 48 years of flying experience and 24,000+ hours

  • Cirrus owner and pilot; Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot.

  • Extensive worldwide experience in Airline, Corporate jet and General Aviation Aircraft.

  • ATP, CFI, CFII, AGI, Flight Engineer, A&P mechanic. Type ratings: LR-JET, IA-JET, CE-500, CE-510S, MU-300, BE-400, B-727, B-737, B-757, B-767, B-777.

As a comparison to John’s 24,000 hours, Alex has 1200 and I probably have less than 30… humbling!!

After dropping off our bags at the hotel we booked upon arrival (as usual), John drove us to their motorhome where we met Sherry and had a wonderful dinner outside.

The conversation was mostly about aviation but also about fishing – Sherry is a competitive fisher and has won many awards- and about motorhome life. We did not know this but it is truly a way of living, a free yet comfortable lifestyle. And theirs was not a “regular” motorhome (i.e. the kind you imagine) but a luxury one, also called motorcoach. These homes are fully equipped, and their owners travel around the country, staying in dedicated parks which look like residential areas, the only difference being that these bus-like homes replace traditional wood and stone ones. Some of the vehicles are extremely luxurious with modern kitchens, a washing machine and a dryer, a bedroom with closets, several bathrooms, a living room with recliners, a sofa bed, various TV’s of several sizes (including one in the shower), bars inside and outside…some even have a sauna… all this can be worth over 2 million dollars! The leading brand is Newell coach. Because the homes are very big, owners always travel across the country with their car in tow. So instead of the car pulling a caravan or trailer, it is the motorhome coach pulling the car😊

On Alex' video below you can see the pleasant environment we were in

Just like during our Zoom conversation back in 2020, John was full of advice about the type of pump we should get for places where fuel comes in drums and not from metered pumps, the weather conditions around Greenland and the products -such as de-icing fluid- to take with us because they are not always easy to find abroad. He also recommended portable cans of “aviators” Oxygen vs installing an oxygen system in the plane because refills are not always available and our kind of trip does not require very much oxygen because we will probably not need to fly above 12,000 feet very often.

At the end of the evening, John drove us back to the hotel with lots of things to think about and to buy/prepare. Fortunately, we were going to the Cirrus center in Fort Wayne the next day to check the airplane before the cross-Atlantic trip and to investigate the source of the unusually high oil consumption that we had started to notice in Puerto Plata.

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