Mason Andrews was 18 years and 163 days old when he landed his Piper PA-32 Lance in Monroe on 6 October 2018. Andrews flew in, or over, 22 countries on the 76-day solo flight to bring awareness for MedCamps of Louisiana, an outreach that provides free summer camps to those who have Down Syndrome; spina bifida; developmental disabilities; or hearing, speech, or visual impairments. The trip raised more than $33,000 for the charity.
Andrews earned his private pilot certificate in 2017 and built up about 200 hours in the family’s Lance before attempting the worldwide journey. He named the green-and-white N7278C the Spirit of Louisiane in a nod to Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. From Louisiana’s Monroe Regional Airport, Andrews flew to Republic Airport in Farmingdale, New York, then northern Canada, before crossing Greenland to Iceland. Other stops around the globe included Egypt, Jordan, India, Malaysia, Christmas Island, Australia, Fiji, American Samoa, Hawaii, and California.
His favorite part of the trip was landing in Paris at night and seeing the Eiffel Tower as he made his final approach. Weather forced him to stay in the Philippines for nearly three weeks, and nearly doubled the projected 40-day journey. He also experienced a nighttime in-flight emergency when severe thunderstorms blocked his route from the South China Sea. Attempting to land at Subic Bay International Airport, it was closed and the lights were off. When he was refused entry, he declared the emergency. Andrews said: “I wasn’t demanding, but I needed their help and center couldn’t clear me to land. After I landed, the police showed up, and I thought I was getting arrested. They were actually excited to see me and said, ‘We’ve heard about you.’ They shook my hand and then I went on my way.”
Helping fund MedCamps is “something I’m really proud of,” said Andrews. “I thought it was a great thing to tie aviation and the MedCamps program together, and to raise awareness for both. The more people learn about these types of things, the more they will be inspired to do them, just like I was.”
According to Aopa Pilot.