Dave Sykes Crosses India on His Solo Flight to Australia
Flying across Europe and the Mediterranean countries in an open-cockpit P&M Aviation Quik trike must have felt like a vacation to Dave Sykes compared to his later experiences in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. There aren’t many sandstorms in York, England, where he began his 11,600-nautical-mile flight to Sydney, Australia, on April 28. After six weeks of flying, he has crossed India, entered Myanmar (Burma), and is more than halfway to his goal.
Dave lost the use of his legs in 1993 in a motorcycle accident, but it hasn’t deterred him from taking on flying challenges that would discourage the average pilot. His trike has been modified with hand controls for ground steering, and an auxiliary fuel tank made it possible for him to fly a 7.5-hour nonstop flight from Luxor, Egypt, to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. On the leg from Riyadh to Doha in Qatar, there were no roads, just sand everywhere. It got rough; the sky turned brown, he encountered a sandstorm, and he lost contact with ATC. After two hours of heavy turbulence, no visibility, and sand coating his visor and windscreen, he contacted an airliner that relayed messages to ATC. They found him on radar, and he was directed out of the storm.
Dave’s biggest challenges come not from nature but from government bureaucracy, customs requirements, paperwork, and ATC clearances. After an hour into the flight from Muscat in Oman to Gwadar in Pakistan, he was informed by ATC that Iran had changed their mind and cancelled his flight plan. He must turn back or be intercepted and shot down. This isn’t your average cross-country flight, notwithstanding the fact that he has a wheel chair strapped to his trike. Dave was allowed to continue to Pakistan by taking a detour to Alpor.
The flight from England to Australia will pass through 18 different countries and involve overwater crossings as long as 300 miles. Learn more about his amazing ongoing adventure at Solo Flight Global, where you can read his daily blog and find his current location as indicated by his Spot personal satellite tracker.