DeLaurentis is in St. John’s after the first three legs of his trip around the world in a 1997 Piper Malibu Mirage.
The American pilot took off from San Diego, Calif., Sunday and made stops in Muncie, Indiana and Bangor, Maine, before coming here — the trip’s only stop in Canada.
“From the first days that I can remember, I was always intrigued by flying, so this is really recognizing my childhood dream,” DeLaurentis said.
Later, when he was studying spiritual psychology, he was asked, if you could do anything, no matter how impossibly big, what would it be?
“For me, I wanted to have an aircraft, and I wanted to fly it around the world. So at that point, it set it in motion,” he said.
DeLaurentis finally got his pilot’s licence at 44, and flying turned out to be everything he dreamed of.
“It feels impossibly free. I feel so connected with nature,” he said.
“A lot of people will say interacting with people is enough to keep you stimulated. Flying a plane is enough to keep you stimulated. Being in nature is enough to keep you stimulated and travelling to different countries is enough to stimulate you. But if you put all four of those together, in one moment in time, or spread over a period of time, it’s almost euphoric.”
His own enjoyment aside, the 90-day trip has three purposes: to promote new technology that makes flying less expensive, to make flying more accessible to aspiring pilots and to raise money for select causes, including the Charles A. Lindbergh-Albert E. Schweitzer Elementary School in San Diego and a scholarship fund.
His plane is equipped with some really new technology: the exterior has a nano-ceramic coating that makes the plane more slippery, helping increase fuel efficiency; a four-bladed composite scimitar MT propeller; and a Bluetooth connection that helps save time.
He’s on a mission to get the technology out there, as it can help reduce flying costs, which he says is one of the biggest barriers for aspiring pilots. He’s also aware it makes flying more environmentally friendly.
“You have less of a carbon signature, and then that nano-ceramic coating, it’s harder for dirt and bugs to stick, so you have to clean the plane less, so you’re using less water and fewer chemicals.”
DeLaurentis’ journey is hugely inspired by Charles Lindbergh, who is famous for making the first non-stop, solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. DeLaurentis’ plane’s name — the Spirit of San Diego — is even a nod to Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis.
This trip means a lot more to DeLaurentis than making a name for himself.
“A lot of people that do this, they’re just doing this to set records. And my flight clearly sets a record. But it’s also spread out over 90 days because I want to enjoy the time with the people, have some great experiences, see some cool things,” he said.
He still has 22 countries left to visit — the flag of each of them is stuck on his plane — and he’s not going to rush through them.
“A lot of people that do the circumnavigations, they’re in a hurry, and what’s the point of doing it? I want to stop and meet some people, and have some sightseeing experiences and just have fun, you know, enjoy life.”
DeLaurentis will give a presentation today at 7 p.m. at the Air Force Association of Canada Club at Building 565 in Pleasantville. He hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams by sharing his journey.
“Most pilots are probably not going to fly around the world, but everyone that gets into a plane will certainly have some lessons they can learn from my flight,” he said.
“And for the people that are not pilots, it encourages them to go out and live a full life, and take some chances, and go for it.”
He leaves for the Azores Friday, weather permitting.
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When Robert DeLaurentis returns to San Diego after his trip around the world, he will launch his first book, “Flying Thru Life.” For every book sold, $1 will be given to the Spirit of San Diego Scholarship Fund.