Dr. Bansal is a fellow Rotarian from the RC of Buffalo. After a successful career as an entrepreneur Ravi had a dream to “fly around the world” And while he didn’t have a lot of experience flying solo in his state of the art single engine Cessna, and his family thought this idea was very risky, he found a purpose to drive his passion and the rest of the story came together.

A native of Ambala India, Ravi visited family in 2005, and realized the local Charity Hospital which had treated his ailing sister-in-law, did not have the resources needed to successfully diagnose cancer. Furthermore, he learned that no one from India had ever completed RTW flight. The challenge was set! And Ravi chose to rise to that challenge. He would dedicate his flight to raising funds for a MRI machine for the Ambala Charity Hospital, raise awareness in the Ambala region of the importance of early cancer detection and treatment and finally by being the first Indian to complete a RTW solo flight in a single engine plane acquire recognition and publicity for the causes.
In Ravi’s words there are three things necessary to accomplish the flight: 1) the pilot2) the aircraft 3) the resources. (Nice understatement.) As a pilot, Ravi felt he had the stamina, both physically and mentally. He was able to fly using IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) and he had the courage (His family needed to be convinced that they had the courage to let him go.) His Cessna was brand new, in excellent condition with regard to avionics and instrumentation. As for resources, Ravi personally committed his time (he was retired) and money (approximately USD100, 000).
The big challenge was the Route Planning. The plane was capable of 1200 nautical miles per fuel tank. Factoring in the rules for fuel usage, the locations of the international airports and the ability to refuel meant that most flights were less than 6 hours. Each flight had to occur from an International port of entry and to have airspace overflight permits, landing permits and visas, all arranged in advance. So too, the delivery of fuel must be secured. In order to do this efficiently and confidently Ravi worked with a logistics support services company to develop the route plan. It almost always worked!

Flying east from Buffalo, the first leg of the journey took him to Iqaluit. From there he went to Greenland, and so began the many overwater flights. In order to prepare for flying over water, Ravi had to take survival training, ensure tracking SOS in addition to GPS and have insurance. Of course, as he said, engine failure in a single engine plane over open water severely limits the likelihood of survival.

Ravi showed a video of his approach to the International Airport at Nuuk Greenland, a singular tarmac strip edging from the sea to the hangar—no doubt a welcome sight after a hair raising flight that saw several disruptions of the GPS due to weather and solar conditions. This fishing village of 16,000 people was already a long way from Buffalo. Not deterred, Ravi continued on another 19 flights over the next 46 days as accomplished his dream.

In Ambala, on the Indian Pakistani border, Ravi was given special permission to land at the heavily guarded national airbase. He was feted for being the first Indian to fly solo RTW and most importantly, he was able to provide the resources to have the MRI machine installed at the hospital. Mission accomplished!

Along the way Ravi had stopped throughout Europe and Asia, visiting some Rotary clubs, and connecting with others in the Rotary Aviation Fellowship group. On his return trip from Ambala to Buffalo he was grounded for several days in Borneo (trouble getting fuel) and in Japan (trouble getting route permits over North Korea). He hopscotched through the Aleutian Islands Ring of Fire grateful for no volcanic eruptions and entered North America via Alaska.
His book “Cleared Direct Destination” tells this story (http://raviworldflight.com), PDF free download, signed hardcopy $50, all proceeds to Ambala Charity Hospital. And to put his achievement in a context: 4000 or more have climbed Mt. Everest; 123 have completed a RTW solo flight. Ravi still flies, but now mostly with his wife from Buffalo to their vacation home in Florida.