Arty's 2009 Ultimate Ultralight Adventure
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What this is all about?
Why are you doing this? (The answer to the question: "Is she CRAZY!?!?!")
Do you really think you can do this?
Will you write about the flight en route? (The answer to the question "How will we know if you're still alive?)
WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?
After my family, I have two passions: flying my ultralight*, and – through my
public speaking and consulting - challenging people to transform their self-limiting beliefs into
irresistible expectations…to move out of their comfort zone and into their courage zone.
I'm about to launch an adventure that combines these two passions. I'm going to fly my
ultralight* from Sandy, Oregon (on the western slopes of Mt. Hood,) to the
2nd largest air show in the United States:
Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Florida...and back to
Oregon. The round-trip flight will cover approximately 7500 miles and take 7-8 weeks. Along the way
I'll be carrying the message of striking out boldly in the direction of your dreams.
For those of you who aren't familiar with ultralights, my 1984 Maxair Drifter*
is sometimes referred to as an irrigation pipe with a plastic seat, wings and an engine. And that
pretty much describes it. It weighs 320 lbs. empty, and is powered by a Rotax 503 snowmobile-type
engine. I can be in the air for about 2.5 hrs. before I need to land and refuel. How many miles I can
cover in that amount of time is completely dependent on the weather. I cruise at about 55-60 miles per
hour – if there's no wind. With a strong headwind my speed can drop as low as 25-30 mph!
*(Technically, my Drifter is an ultralight-type registered Experimental Light
WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? (The answer to the question: "Is she CRAZY!?!?!")
At first, this was all about the flying adventure. In my speaking presentations, I urge audiences
to create "big, hairy, bodacious goals" for themselves. This extreme flight is MY big, hairy, bodacious
goal. For the past eight years I've made ultra-long ultralight flights, yet nothing as ambitious as
this one. Flying to Florida and back has become more than a goal; it's become an obsession!
As others heard about my dream, many contacted me, saying that my flight was an inspiration to them,
and that just hearing about what I was planning caused them to question their own self-imposed limits.
I realized that I could use this flight as a platform to carry my message of thinking boldly and living
life with passion.
I KNOW that we all can achieve our dreams, even if others tell us it's impossible. As a 65 year old
woman, I've been told throughout my life that certain goals weren't possible for me, due to my
gender—and later, due to my age. I've listened, and continued on with my plans. With determination,
perseverance, and preparation, I know we can spread our wings and fly higher and further than we ever
I'm passionate about sharing this message, especially with girls and women. I believe that as they
see what another woman is able to accomplish – in a sport that has very, very few women – it will
inspire them to dream big and live life fully. Lynda Meeks, the founder
of Girls With Wings, says: "Research has
proven that we can expose our girls to the opportunities available to them, but unless we can give them
real life examples of women who have achieved their dreams, girls have difficulty picturing themselves
doing the same." I believe that's true for "grown up girls" as well."
I decided to use this flight to promote Girls With Wings, an organization using women in aviation
to encourage girls to reach their full potential. I'll bring "Penelope Pilot" along on the flight.
The Penelope Pilot Projecttm seeks to increase girls' participation in aviation events and activities,
as well as encourage girls to test their wings in other ways. Lynda Meeks and I would love to see
grandmothers and their granddaughters come out to some of the airports along my route to get their
picture taken next to my ultralight, holding Penelope Pilot. (No demonstration flights—this is a
Other organizations such as The 99's
(an international association of women pilots) and Spunky Old Broad (an organization proving that women
over 50 can lead active, vibrant lives) are also excited about the flight and helping out. You'll be
seeing links to other partnering organizations soon in my blog about the flight.
DO YOU REALLY THINK YOU CAN DO THIS?
I wouldn't attempt such a flight if I didn't think I could do it successfully. I have absolutely no
death wish! I've been flying my MaxAir Drifter for 19 years. Beginning in 2000, I've made at least one
multi-week, multi-state flight each year. My longest flight so far took 19 days and covered 4300 miles.
At first it looked as though I'd be making the flight by myself….and I do have a lot of fears about
that. Then, to my great joy, a good friend and flying buddy called to tell me he wants to fly the
entire route with me, if he can get his ultralight ready in time. And other ultralight pilots have shown
interest in joining us at various points, for varying amounts of time. That will decrease the risks
exponentially! We'll be camping most of the time and we're looking forward to meeting other flying
enthusiasts along the way.
WILL YOU WRITE ABOUT THE FLIGHT EN ROUTE? (The answer to the question "How will we know if you're still alive?)
You'll be able to follow the flight online via a blog on this website. I'll include pictures and
details of the flight. I'll probably begin the blog about the middle of March, writing about what we're
doing to prepare for the flight: preflight planning, logistical support details, discussion of weather
and other issues. I'll publish a map as part of the blog.
Right now, our plan is to leave on Saturday, March 28, fly south through western Oregon into
California following I-5. We'll connect with I-10 in southern California and follow it east to Florida
and Sun 'n Fun. The return flight will take us
slightly further north, through Oklahoma and northern New Mexico, to Monument Valley, the Great Salt
Lake, Idaho and back into Oregon. The flight will be approximately 7500 miles and will take
approximately seven weeks. Of course, weather will be the deciding factor as to how we'll tweak our
flight route plans.
So wish us clear skies and tailwinds in both directions! Check back in mid-March to read up on
(Click on the image to view the full sized map).