Cathay Pacific pilot returns home with his dream accomplished after three-month 49,650km journey around-the-world in his home-built plane
Cathay Pacific Airways pilot Hank Cheng was greeted by family, friends and fans at Hong Kong International Airport on 13 November 2016 as he successfully completed his epic 49,650km journey, which began on August 28 this year.
Hank Cheng completed his whirlwind three-month trip around the world in Hong Kong’s first homemade plane bringing home fame, pride and joy. Speaking to the media, Cheng said he hoped his achievement would “put Hong Kong on the map” as this is “a source of pride for Hong Kong.”
He flew most of the trip solo but was joined for some stretches by friends and family, including his wife. Along the way, he touched down at 45 airports in 20 countries.
Hank made local aviation history by circumnavigating the globe in “Inspiration”, a single-engine RV-8 light aircraft, a flight that covered approximately 50,000 km and took in 20 countries, including Australia, the United States, France, Jordan, Oman, Sri Lanka and Thailand, before landing at Hong Kong International Airport at around 10 am on Sunday.
Cathay Pacific and its staff have applauded the magnificent achievement of Captain Hank Cheng and the Inspiration team following the successful completion of his epic world tour.
Hank’s historic, near three-month journey has been reliant on the professional support of the Inspiration team, a dedicated group of Cathay Pacific employees who have worked round-the-clock, monitoring the flight’s progress from the Inspiration Operation Centre, which is housed at Cathay Pacific City, the airline’s headquarters at Chek Lap Kok. In addition, inspired by Hank’s passion to reach out for his aviation dreams, numerous colleagues across the airline’s expansive global network, from airport staff, engineers, flight crew to back office staff, have provided him with invaluable support, underlining the teamwork and can-do spirit of Cathay Pacific.
Cathay Pacific Chief Operating Officer Rupert Hogg said the completion of Hank’s tour was a very special day for everyone at Cathay Pacific.
“We are extremely proud of what Hank and all our employees involved in the Inspiration project have achieved – this is a historic moment in Hong Kong aviation and we could not be happier that their dreams have been realized. They have proved to be wonderful ambassadors for Cathay Pacific and local aviation as a whole, showing fantastic spirit, true professionalism and tremendous enthusiasm throughout.”
The Inspiration project has garnered significant interest – both from the public and aviation aficionados – and Hank has been eager to educate people about aviation and promote Hong Kong at every stage of the journey – two of his key objectives. For example, soon after completing the most arduous leg of his trip – a 14+ hour transpacific flight from Hilo in Hawaii to San Carlos in California – Hank travelled to the Future of Flight Aviation Center at Boeing’s headquarters in Everett, Washington, where he shared the background and goals of Inspiration with enthusiasts at a well-attended learning session.
Another instance of Hank’s passion for espousing aviation and his home city came a few weeks later, when he made headlines in Karachi. Through arrangements made by Cathay Pacific staff, and after receiving a very special welcome and generous treatment upon landing in Pakistan’s biggest and cosmopolitan city, he gave a series of media interviews, sharing the experiences of his flight and promoting the pioneering spirit of Hong Kong.
One of Hanks’ colleague regarded the tour as, “A dream for you, and for many of us too … that becomes true,” while another emphasized the positive effect Inspiration has had on his family and the younger generation: “My boys are inspired by your achievement. They carry your aircraft registered red lanyard B-KOO on their school bags and share your inspiring story to all their classmates!”
The Inspiration project has won the respect and admiration of Cathay Pacific staff members the world over, with the team receiving a great many messages of support from across the airline’s network, highlighting the airline’s tight-knit international community.