Lenarčič completes round-the-world flight
Portorož, 22 April - Slovenian adventure pilot Matevž Lenarčič completed his 42,000-kilometre round-the-world flight by touching down at Portorož airport on Friday after 13 stages and 186 hours in the air. Despite at times difficult moments, he described the journey as dream-like.
Lenarčič embarked on his third solo round-the-world flight in an ultralight aircraft from Portorož on 25 March. One of the purposes of the enterprise was to collect data on black carbon, a major polluter.
He had initially planned for the journey to take 24 days, but he got stuck in Hawaii for four days due to red tape. There he even faced the risk of having to take apart the aircraft and ending the trip early.
"These 13 legs have been often pleasant, as the last the one today," the pilot told reporters at the small international airport on the Slovenian coast.
However, he also had to brave tough conditions, such as strong turbulences, headwinds and unfriendly flight controllers on the leg to Hurghada in Egypt. He ran out of fuel and had to make an unplanned stop.
Lenarčič today tried to turn media attention from himself to refugees. "If we want to talk about the heroes of our time, it's the refugees," he said.
They risk their lives and the lives of their families trying to make the treacherous journey across in the Mediterranean, and when they arrive in Europe they are met by people full of intolerance and fear. "We must change that."
A major purpose of his GreeLight WorldFlight project was to measure the levels of black carbon, the second major cause of climate change.
"What we've established during the flight is that the levels in some places are surprisingly high and aren't restricted to the developing countries or the under-developed world," said researcher Griša Močnik.
High concentrations were recorded over the Gulf of Mexico, most likely due to oil extraction and gas flares, and over the west coast of India.
The sources of pollution can be different. "It may be industry, traffic, combustion of biomass," Močnik said. "While emissions are local, they spread regionally and have global impact."