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One man’s risky flight around the globe for world peace

Published: Jul. 31, 2021 at 3:54 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 31, 2021 at 6:30 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - For the past week, people from all over the world headed to Oshkosh for aviation adventures at E.A.A. which ends August 1. Yet, one pilot has literally been around the world in a death-defying trip this past year. Why would he take such a risk?

“The mission was really a world peace mission and the idea was to connect the two places on the planet - the North and South Poles - where peace has always existed and everybody in between,” Robert DeLaurentis, the global Zen Pilot, shared. “We carried experiments for NASA, a weight to scale spaceship. We did a plastic particle experiment for Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Plus, I used biofuels over the North and South Poles.”

DeLaurentis’s solo flight mission around the world for peace began in November 2019 and lasted almost nine months. Even though he was in a plane, it was smooth sailing getting past the South Pole. However, on the northwest coast of Africa in Dakar, Senegal during one of his refueling stops things took a turn.

A fuel tank burst, spraying harmful material in his eyes and all over his body, leaving chemical burns.

“I remember falling backwards out of the plane with my eyes burning from jet fuel thinking it’s over,” DeLaurentis said. “The plane is going to catch on fire and I guess I’m heading home.”

He didn’t. This self-proclaimed introvert drained the plane of the exploded fuel and took off the next day for Asia. DeLaurentis said more life lessons were in store. Especially when he took refuge in Spain for over a month at a monk monastery during part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A pilot pointed out to me that before you can find peace in the world you need to find peace in yourself,” DeLaurentis recalled. “I think it was during that month and a half that I did.”

Now that the trip is complete, his plane (the Citizen of the World) will become a mobile S.T.E.M. lab for kids. It will also be on display at The Smithsonian, the Boeing Museum, and other aviation events across the country.

For more information about Robert DeLaurentis, you can check out his website (click here).

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