Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots Rahul Monga and Anil Kumar began a round-the-world flight in a Flight Design CTSW plane to set a new record for the fastest circumnavigation in a microlight aircraft. (A microlight aircraft is a lightweight, fixed-wing flying machine with seating for no more than two people.) In undertaking their flight, Monga and Kumar sought to beat the record set in 2001 by Colin Bodil of England; he had traveled across the globe in a microlight plane in 99 days.
Monga and Kumar took off in their German-designed aircraft from Hindon Air Force Station in northern India. During the next 80 days, they flew over a total of 16 other countries. In addition, they soared above everything from open seas to dense forests and made a total of 81 stops en route. The flight, far from being a joy ride, had more than its fair share of challenges. As Kumar recalled, “Of course, weather was a problem for us, we had to train ourselves to handle all kind of problems . . . We were sitting in the cockpit for nine, ten hours, moving from culture to culture, time zone to time zone.” Kumar cited guarding against jet lag and pulmonary vein disorder as other challenges experienced during the flight.
The two pilots returned to Hindon Air Force Station on August 19, having established a new record for the fastest circumnavigation in a microlight aircraft. Their total flight time was 247 hours and 27 minutes. “These two have shown what trans-oceanic reach really is,” proclaimed Indian Air Chief Fali H. Major in welcoming the pilots back to Hindon Air Force Station. According to Kumar, “We are very excited and are proud of creating the world record.” He added, “We are not just proud of ourselves but more than us, we are proud of the IAF, because without them we couldn’t have done what we have done today.”