A Shenington pilot has completed an incredible solo flight across the Atlantic to attend one of the biggest aviation shows in America.
Colin Hales, 45, travelled for 42 days with his self-built aircraft named Itzy – including about four to five days actually in the air – as he headed to this year’s EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a seven-day event held from July 28-August 3 and attended by more than 500,000 spectators.
Mr Hales set off from Shenington Airfield on June 21 in his two-seater KR-2 – an aircraft that is just 14ft 6ins (4.4 metres) in length with a wing span of less than 21ft (6.4 metres).
He flew to Scotland and on to Iceland and Greenland before travelling across the Atlantic to Canada and then over the US border to Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.
He created a blog to update friends and family during his final eventful journey.
He said: “The last 42 days has taken about ten years of my life to achieve.
“I can’t be a Formula 1 driver, Olympic swimmer, rower or cyclist but I can be this.
“My head is full of memories and the friends I’ve made.”
Following the journey south from Canada to Wisconsin, Mr Hales wrote in his blog about being questioned by American Customs and Immigration officers who deemed he had broken the state law because he had entered the country without filing an Electronic States Transferral Application (ESTA) before he was allowed to fly on towards Oshkosh and land safely at the prestigious event.
On arrival he was allowed to park near the Brown Arch – reserved for famous aircrafts such as ‘Voyager 1’ which flew around the world non-stop.
Speaking in his blog about landing at Oshkosh, he said: “Oh wow, there it is coming out of the murk, the most amazing sight!
“Vast camping sites and there are a lot of aircraft down there. For those who don’t know, parking near the Brown Arch is reserved for famous aircraft.
“There was a convoy of scooters and golf carts following behind as I was marshalled in with about 200,000 spectators all wondering the same thing: ‘who is that, where did he come and why all the fuss?’
“I had dared to dream this, dared so often just in case I never made it.
“I never expected to be hurt, but I could have lost the plane and nearly did three times.
“Now it was not a dream. This was real.
“I just wanted to be on my own to gather and preserve this moment and my thoughts, so I stayed in the cockpit with my head in my hands.”