Austrian to circumnavigate world in small plane

Vienna, May 12: In a daredevil effort with a single-engine small aircraft, a 44-year-old Austrian recreational pilot has set off on a 48,000-km-long trip to circumnavigate the world.

Helmuth Lehner, a father of three from Voecklabruck in northern Austria, left Friday from the Blue Danube Airport in Linz in an Aerospoolin WT-9 Dynamic plane, Xinhua reported citing the APA news agency.

He plans to be back in mid-August.

The plane was originally an ultralight aircraft, but has been modified with extra instruments and an extra fuel tank that allows up to 19 hours of flight time.

This will aid Lehner over the longest single leg of the flight, a 3,700-km trip from Hawaii to San Francisco. The entire trip will be 48,000 km long.

Lehner was a friend of Hans Gutmann, the first Austrian to circumnavigate the globe in a self-built aircraft in 1996. He died in a plane crash in Italy in 2011.

Lehner plans to dedicate the trip to Gutmann, and will also collect money for families whose fathers died in plane crashes or other accidents.

When asked what his wife and three children thought of his plans, Lehner said: “They’ll be happy when I’m back.”