Mon, Mar 30, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Swiss pilot on trip around the world flies into volcano

FLYING FOR CHARITY:Aviator Eric Guilloud said on his blog that money raised from his odyssey would go toward funding surgeries in Burkina Faso

AFP, QUITO

A Swiss aviator attempting to circumnavigate the world in 20 months in a lightweight two-seater aircraft died on Saturday after crashing into a volcano in central Ecuador, officials said.

Eric Guilloud, 62, was declared dead following the accident in Cotopaxi Province, the Ecuadorean Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a statement.

An aide to the pilot said Guilloud’s Aerospool WT9 Dynamic aircraft had slammed into the Cotopaxi volcano shortly after taking off from Latacunga airport south of Ecuador’s capital, Quito.

Sixteen soldiers went to the site to try to save him, the aviation agency said. Guilloud had been attempting to fly around the globe in a series of stages over 20 months.

He had already flown through several countries in Europe and Africa before reaching South America, where he flew over Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil.

He was en route to the city of Tabacundo, northeast of Quito, when his airplane crashed. According to a blog maintained by the aviator, money raised through his marathon odyssey was to go toward funding orthopedic surgeries in central Burkina Faso.

Guilloud, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur, had planned to visit 34 countries aboard the lightweight aircraft he had nicknamed “Baby.”

He said he would fly a total of 76,000km, clock 384 flight hours and perform 106 landings, the DGCA said. His two-seater airplane had enough space for just a suitcase and a small refrigerator. Guilloud decided to fly around the world after a close friend died in an airplane accident, motivating him to see the world from the sky in honor of his companion.

Ecuador’s aviation agency said Guilloud’s enthusiasm for all things that fly started as a young man.

“His passion for soaring in the air dates back to his youth. At 23, he started hang-gliding and won the Swiss championship in 1976,” the DGCA said. “And now at 62, he chose to fly over mountains and oceans from his ultralight plane.”

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