Canadians circumnavigating world stop in Nome
A father and son team, which has been traveling around the world in a helicopter to commemorate Canada’s 150th Anniversary, stopped in Nome last week.
Bob and Steven Dengler, along with their helicopter pilot Rob “Dougal” MacDuff, were about two thirds of the way through their journey when they got weathered in in Nome for several days.
They comprise the C150 Global Odyssey, which is hoping to become the first Canadian expedition to circumnavigate the earth in a helicopter, as well as the first father-son pair to fly around the world in any craft. To make the journey even more patriotic, they are flying a Canadian-made helicopter, a Bell 429 Global Ranger.
The Denglers and MacDuff started their roughly 22,000-mile route in Canada’s capital city, Toronto, on July 1. The plan is to visit over 100 airports in 14 countries in roughly a month. Along the way, they are raising money for charities, including a hospital and a foundation for military families.
From Toronto they headed north through the Canadian Arctic and Greenland then to Iceland, Scotland, the U.K., England, France, Germany and the Czech Republic. This concluded the first segment of their trip. The second section went through Poland, Latvia, Russia (which took eleven days to cross) and then to Nome, Bethel, Anchorage and Northway in Alaska. Segment three started in Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, then goes south into Canada. The trip ends in Ontario.
Steven said that Nome was the “obvious place” to stop after Provideniya. “There’s not really any other options,” he said.
He went on to explain that the team is limited in the distance it can fly before stopping. The helicopter, which the elder Dengler owns, can only fly for about 450 miles before it needs to be refueled.
Another adversity that led them to spend time in Nome is the weather—in Nome they were about 10 days over schedule on what was expected to be a 35 to 40 day trip. “You do what the weather allows,” Steven said. Though all agreed there had not been any “close calls” with the weather, they are often limited by the lack of information about weather conditions. They said the U.S. has a good system, one that is missing in countries such as Greenland. “We call airports and ask ‘what’s the weather like there, can you see the sun?’” Steven recounted.
Despite such hardships, the trip’s benefits outweigh its challenges, the Denglers agree. For Bob, the highlight of the trip was the scenery, especially in Northeastern Canada and Greenland. Russia was “miles and miles of floodplains.” Nevertheless, he enjoyed visiting the Far East. “I’m not sure what I expected in Russia, but this was better,” he said.
For Steven, the best part of the trip was meeting different people at each stop. Along the way, the C150GO team has been posting on several social media sites, which has attracted a lot of publicity. “It’s pretty cool,” he said. The crew now has a following on the various sites, and has raised attention both about their journey and for their charities. Steven pointed out that, while celebrating Canada’s history, they are also making history. “We’re ambassadors for the past and for the future,” he said.
Another benefit is that the trip has allowed father and son to reconnect. “Not everyone gets that chance,” said Steven. Both spent most of their adult lives working, so once they sold their companies they had the time and resources to travel.
Bob had the idea for the trip several years ago; he is an experienced Bell pilot. Upon hearing about his father’s plan, “I said count me in,” said the younger Dengler. He also has experience flying, but mostly using fixed wing aircraft. The third member of the team, MacDuff, is a retired test pilot for the Bell 429 Global Ranger.
The planning process took about a year and a half and included gaining sponsorships, getting organized and planning their route. Since the trio went through Russia, they also had to get special visas and a Russian navigator. Though time consuming, “working with the Russians was a pleasant surprise,” said Bob. “It was a relief to get into the helicopter, because that meant the planning was done,” Steven said.
They have numerous sponsors backing their trip, including Nikon Canada, Bell Helicopter and Honeywell Aerospace.
To follow along on their journey, visit the C150GO website: https://www.c150go.ca or go to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.