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Dawn...There will be many early morning starts for the Paynes during their trip. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by Chris Tobin

Former Timaru couple Barry and Sandra Payne have embarked on a round-the-world trip.

This is not unusual, but they are doing the epic trip together flying their own small plane, a single engine four-seater Piper Comanche with the goal to become New Zealand’s first “Earthrounders”.

These are pilots who have flown around the world in a light aircraft that has a maximum weight of 7000kg.

The couple flew out from Taupo, where they now live, to Kerikeri.

From there, on April 28, they headed to Australia on the first of 50 flights to circumnavigate the globe.

Their friend, Julie South, said the Paynes, who are members of the South Canterbury Aero Club, considered themselves “blessed” to be in the position, now they have retired, to be able to do this.

All set…Barry Payne, pictured just before the trip began, took his first solo flight in a Harvard 1058 at Wigram ASir Base 50 years ago. PHOTO:SUPPLIED

“Barry is in his early 70s and Sandra decided around her 60th birthday that she wanted to learn to fly, so she went out and got her PPL (private pilot’s license).

“She and Barry are a piloting team in this adventure. Flying around the world has been something Barry has had on his bucket list for the last 10 years or so, although it’s only in the last few years he started exploring it as a very real possibility.

“This trip has required about 12 months of full-time planning by Barry, with Sandra supporting him part-time.”

On his website, Mr Payne said their preparation had been extensive.

“Personal fitness, aircraft condition, equipment, itinerary, flight planning and safety, all methodically identified and taken care of.

“There have been action lists, checklists, reviews and reviews.”

The Paynes will fly through Japan, which they reached this week, and Russia and arrive in Alaska late this month.

From there they will spend time in Canada before flying to the EAA Oshkosh Air Show in the United States which starts on July 19.

Co-pilot…Sandra Payne with husband is aiming to become New Zealand’s first “Earthrounders,” pilots who have flown around the world in a small aircraft that has a maximum weight of 7000kg. PHOTO:SUPPLIED

During the week-long show the airport’s control tower is the busiest in the world.

From Oshkosh, Wisconsin, they will then fly back through Canada, over Greenland, and Iceland to the United Kingdom, where they expect to arrive in the first week of August.

They will stay about four weeks in Europe and in mid-September fly out of Crete over Jordan, Abu Dhabi, India, Colombo, Malaysia and Indonesia before landing in Broome in Western Australia.

They will fly around Australia before returning to Taupo.

By the end of their trip they will have flown about 31,000 nautical miles with 200 flying hours in their aircraft.

Mr Payne was founding director of BayCity Communications in Timaru and in 2012 was a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition.

The Paynes left Timaru about seven years ago.

Tracking their trip can be found at https://aus-share.inreach.garmin.com/ZKBAZ).