Pilot Stops at Oshkosh on Around the World Flight
Thierry Barbier and his Bestoff Sky Rangers have been to 83 countries-so far.
June 7, 2012 - French pilot Thierry Barbier has visited a lot of countries in the past dozen years - 83 to be exact - as he flies around the world in Rotax 912-powered Bestoff Sky Ranger kit airplanes. Barbier stopped in Oshkosh this week to get familiar with the airport before flying to Canada - his 84th country - since he's planning to return next month for his first AirVenture Oshkosh.
Barbier has flown extensively throughout Africa, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico, and he's been in the U.S. since mid-May. Apart from the flying, which is his passion, Barbier's aim is to meet people all over the world, experience local cultures, and take lots of photos and videos. Following AirVenture, he'll head north again with plans to fly to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, over to Russia, and down to Korea and Japan.
"It's so beautiful, the Earth from the sky, you can't imagine," he said. "I love to take photos and videos of the Earth to show it is beautiful and that we have to protect it. We also must protect the richness and traditions of cultures around the world."
As he flies around the world to different countries, Barbier says he's in no hurry. "I take the time to meet the people, to do the things nicely. And take lots of photos and video," he said. He has posted many of those photos and videos online - many taken from remote-controlled cameras bungied to the wings - and has numerous published works in French publications.
Barbier flies in five-month spurts, then returns home. "I must return home to Paris to make money so I can fly," he said.
The two-seat, side-by-side airplane is the latest model of the French-designed Bestoff Sky Ranger called the Nynja. Specs of the metal construction, fabric-covered wing airplane would allow for LSA certification, but it's officially a European ultralight. It took 300 hours to build from the kit, and was provided by the Bestoff (without engine or instruments). He's using mostly autofuel on the flight.
Among his other sponsors are Beringer wheels and brakes, Super B lithium batteries, Yacco Oil, and Verspieren Insurance. Plus his copilots are sponsors. For this leg, that's Claude Cordelle. Barbier will meet his son in Quebec, and father and son will attend AirVenture together.
He is looking forward to his first AirVenture experience, where he will display his Sky Ranger Nynja. When told of the variety and number of airplanes that will be on the ground, he was amazed. "I can't wait to see that," Barbier said.
Through his travels Barbier has gained an acute appreciation for the different cultures throughout the world. "I feel more a citizen of the world now," he said. "I'm realizing my culture, but being a citizen of the world is something more important."