Serial adventurer and OTW Ambassador, James Ketchell has officially become the first person to continuously fly solo around the world in an open-cockpit gyrocopter, whilst raising money for Over The Wall. He surpassed his £10,000 target, and has raised a total of £12,094. This means just over £6,000 will go toward funding our work with seriously ill children and young people, and their families.
The UK Scouting ambassador traversed Europe, Russia, the Bering Strait, Alaska, Canada, all 49 mainland US states, and crossed the potentially treacherous north Atlantic only stopping in Greenland, Iceland and Danish Faroe Islands, during his record-breaking 24,000 nautical mile circumnavigation.
“It’s been an incredible, humbling experience but also the toughest challenge so far,” said James after safely arriving back at Popham airfield, Hampshire on Sunday 22 September, where he first took off five months ago. “The weather has been so unpredictable. At times the flying has been hairy. I’m just so glad to be back.”
James spent his teenage years depressed and lacking in confidence, leaving school without any qualifications and a serious motorcycle accident threatened his mobility. Despite multiple setbacks, in 2014 James became the first person to complete the so-called “ultimate global triathlon”: to row across the Atlantic Ocean, successfully climb to the top of Mount Everest and cycle 18,000 miles around the world.
He set off from Popham Airfield, on March 31, in the gyrocopter – similar to the one used in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. He has been stopping at schools along the epic journey to give motivational talks and raise funds for Over The Wall and Kindled Spirit.
“My objective is to give every young person the belief and conviction that they can achieve their goals and dreams,” he added. “I’ve flown over some of the most beautiful, breath-taking mountain regions, deserts, forests and cities in the world.
“The freezing temperatures of Siberia tested my stamina and resilience. Flying over the north Atlantic in an open light aircraft was particularly worrying. Luckily there were no thunderstorms like the ones I faced in North America.”
James has given motivational talks in schools, to scout groups and other youth organisations en route and via social media broadcasts, to inspire young people around the world.
James said: “This is all about trying to inspire others. I’m a normal lad who was a teenager with no motivation to do anything. Now I know anything can be achieved and I want to help other teenagers understand there are few barriers to realising your dreams.”
James was flying in a MAGNI M16C open cockpit tandem gyrocopter, which travels at just 70 knots, with a range of just 700 nautical miles.
Thank you to all those who donated to James’ cause, and thank you to James, for his amazing efforts, and continued support for Over The Wall.