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The Aviator of Sky Polaris by Jamie Jumaquio / PHILIPPINES
In intrepid Spanish aviator goes on a treacherous journey across seven continents, circumnavigating the earth’s poles on home-built, single-engine aircraft, while collecting vital scientific data in aid of climate change research.
“El Aviador del Cielo Polar” follows the story of Michel Gordillo, former air force pilot and Iberia captain, whose dreams of flight go well beyond his chosen profession.
With a passion for building aircraft and long distance flying, he builds several experimental airplanes and goes on round-the-world flights inspired by some of history’s pioneering aviators.
In 2005, Michel begins his plans to build and fly the aircraft of his dreams – a Van’s RV-8. It is a lightweight, single-engine plane sold as a kit. With the support of his children, his partner Paula, and trusted friends, he builds and modifies the plane in his own garage, determined to fly it to the most isolated regions of the earth – the North and South Pole.
Seeing the beauty of the earth from above motivates Michel to take action against the destruction caused by climate change. He teams up with the Andalusian Center for Environmental Research (CEAMA) and the University of Granada in their study of black carbon particles, a hazardous air pollutant that is a main cause of global warming. The particles are being studied through ground stations and satellites, but the researchers lack data taken from a mid-level altitude, and from the remotest parts of the earth, including the North and South Poles.
Michel’s dream flight has now become an important scientific mission. He builds a light aircraft that can fly in the necessary altitudes, which can also carry an aethalometer, a machine that collects and analyzes black carbon samples. The project is called “Sky Polaris,” his third-round-the-world flight and most ambitious one.
From Madrid, Michel’s small plane flies across many countries spanning seven continents, encountering a wide range of challenges – from mechanical and weather problems, to logistical and bureaucratic issues, to survival over open oceans, desert and jungles.
But it is also a journey that takes him through the beauty of mountains, water, outback and ice, and the warmth and hospitality across cultures.
Michel’s story is not just an incredible feat for aviation and scientific research, but also a fight against climate change, and the triumph of the indomitable human spirit.