Tiny plane makes South Pole but not New Zealand

Pilot Bill Harrelson from his ZQ Pilot Facebook page.

Pilot Bill Harrelson from his ZQ Pilot Facebook page.

A tiny plane with just a pilot aboard is heading back toward Chile after flying over the South Pole but failing to reach Hamilton, New Zealand.

Pilot Bill Harrelson yesterday morning began what was to be a continuous 27 hours over the 10,000 kilometre trip from Punta Arenas in Chile to Hamilton.

Last night he reached the South Pole but strong headwinds prevented him flying on to New Zealand.

Harrelson is flying a modified Lancair IV single-engine aeroplane in a bid to circumnavigate the world via both Poles.

According to his Facebook "ZQ Pilot" page he left Kinston, North Carolina, on December 28.

His progress, even over Antarctica, can be followed online.

The Facebook page says Harrelson has faced a very long flight.

"Stronger winds than forecasted made reaching southern NZ questionable," it said. 

"He successfully made the pole so he doesn't have to go back again."

He is following the same track back to South America than he flew down.

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Instead Harrelson will fly from Punta Arenas to Hamilton direct – "still a formable challenge".

The page says the plane needs some work and troubleshooting with issues around the autopilot and communications.

"We will remind Bill that anybody who can build their own plane, fly it to the South Pole and back, and live to tell about has done something pretty remarkable."

Harrelson already has the distance record for the class of aircraft having flown in 2013 from Guam to Jacksonville, Florida, a distance of 13,059 kilometres over 38 hours, 29 minutes. 

After Hamilton he was scheduled to fly to Honolulu.

 - Stuff

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