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Thursday, September 22, 2016


Circumnavigation is the term used for around the world travel.  There are various interpretations of what this means, but the simplest is to start and end at the same place and cross the equator at least once.  Thus, you will at least travel 24,901 miles, the circumference of Planet Earth.

My circumnavigation feats are mundane, accomplished by many tens of thousands.  However, beginning in 1982, when my wife and I flew on Pan American 1, I have now completed this journey perhaps a dozen times.

Star Alliance and Oneworld are the two partnerships worthy of your consideration.  I have flown United Airlines all my life, so all my global experience has been with Star Alliance.  While there are prices for various distance levels, essentially, coach costs around $5,000, business $10,000 and first class $20,000.  Once you get started, you can actually make any flight adjustment on time and day, but not the itinerary itself.

Thus, my adventures were all accomplished via air.  So on 2 January 2016 I announced my intention to plan for Global Cruise 2018.  Alas, various conflicts now mean this will be Global Cruise 2020.  For good reason, I suppose, more people click on this subject area than almost anything else.  I am accumulating a list of people who might want to join me, and, in particular, I continue to search for that special female individual who can be my cabin mate.

But, as I said, my global travels pale in comparison to the accomplishments of the following individuals:
  • (I began this posting two days ago, for on September 20, 1519, Magellan set sail from Seville, with five ships and 270 men.)  Who is the first person to go around the world?  Not Ferdinand Magellan, for he was killed in the Philippines.  Spanish explorer Juan Sebastian Elcano (right) then took command of the Victoria, and with 18 crew members, returned to their home port of Seville.

  • In 1577 Queen Elizabeth I of England sent Francis Drake on a similar mission, and he completed the second circumnavigation in 1580.
  • In 1922 Cunard's Laconia departed New York on 21 November 1922 as their first scheduled around the world cruise, mostly with middle class Americans, and returned 130 days later after calling at 22 ports.  Two decades later, the Laconia was sunk by a German submarine. 
  • In 1924 the U.S. Army Air Service, using a quartet of Douglas World Cruiser biplanes successfully competed a world trip.
  • In 1929 the airship Graf Zeppelin went around the world.
  • Yuri Gargarin in 1961 was the first person to complete an orbital spaceflight in the Vostok 1, spending 108 minutes in space.
  • Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager in 1986 made the first non-refueled circumnavigation in the Rutan Voyager, taking a little more than 9 days.
  • In 1947 Pan Am began a scheduled round-the-world flight as #1 and #2.  Then in 1962 PA 1 became a daily using Boeing 707s, replaced in 1971 by the Boeing 747.  Pan Am went bankrupt on 1991 and was largely taken over by Delta.
  • 1986:  Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones were the first on the Breatling Orbiter 3 to ballon around the world, in a little more than 17 days.
  • 2005:  Steve Fossett on the Virgin Atlantic GobalFlyer, designed with Burt (younger brother of Dick) Rutan, in 2005 flew the globe in 67 hours.   Fossett disappeared two years later on a flight.
  • 2008:  the trimaran Earthrace completed a global ocean voyage in 61 days.
  • Then, of course, Solar Impulse 2, in July of this year, with Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg piloting the aircraft, went around the world, only powered by the sun.  It did take them 16 months or so, but that is because the plane spent a long vacation in Hawaii because of the not-quite-yet-perfect lithium batteries, something that is currently plaguing Samsung's Galaxy Note 7.

Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days (Kindle copy is only 81 cents), of course, is fictional, but here is a fairly complete list of the notable circumnavigations.


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