DUBAI // A Pakistani entrepreneur’s mission to become the first person from his country to circumnavigate the globe in a plane is facing major turbulence even before his first flight takes off.
Dubai-based Fakhr-e-Alam, who owns two companies and is a famous face in his homeland through a successful acting and music career, aims to embark on the journey, billed as Mission Parwaz, in July but his Pakistani passport is causing him problems.
He plans to travel to 46 cities in 52 days, covering 30,756 nautical miles. “I will start my journey from Karachi, Pakistan, and travel towards the south of China and will then fly across to the Far East, Australia, USA, Europe, Middle East and so forth,” he said.
The man who has a 20-year acting career and has released six albums said he hopes to have several stopovers on the journey. “My stay depends on factors like flight time. There is a leg over the Pacific which will be 13 hours on a twin engine. At the end of this leg I would like to rest for at least 72 hours,” Mr Alam said.
“At some places I will stop for refuelling and stretching my legs before taking off again in less than three to four hours.”
Mr Alam, 40, has been living in Dubai since 2004 and owns a maintenance company and fashion business but he is struggling to get travel permits on time.
“As I hold a Pakistani passport, I was facing problems in getting visas on time. Countries I intend to travel were taking so much time in doing background checks. Even to date, I am anxiously waiting for China and Australia visas,” he said.
Another obstacle is his lack of flight experience. With less than 100 hours of flying time, he stands to break a world record if he completes the journey but an inexperienced pilot flying alone comes with dangers.
“Yes, the risks are there. The risk is further enhanced if I fly a single-engine unpressurised aircraft but my lack of experience also makes me more cautious about all my aeronautical decision-making,” said Mr Alam.
“I have no arrogance or over-confidence. I have a young family I want to come back to so I will not push my luck or take unnecessary risks.”
A further stumbling block is financing the trip. He needs another US$530,000 to start his mission. “The total cost of the mission with a two-engine aircraft is US$780,000. I am funding my training on my own so far and I have sponsorships worth US$250,000 but there’s still a long way to go,” he said.
Mr Alam said most of the cost will be spent on renting the aircraft. “I am renting the aircraft. I cannot afford to buy one. If we raise enough money I would like to lease a King Air or a Cessna 421C.”
Despite Mr Alam’s ambitious plans, questions have been raised about the viability of the flight.
Ejaz Haq, the first flight operations head at Emirates Airline, believes that Mr Alam has to do a lot of homework before going ahead. “He has no real experience in long-distance navigation. In such a mission intimate knowledge of your craft is imperative. You need to be properly trained on it,” said Mr Haq, who has more than 25,000 hours’ flying experience.
“If he goes about it the right way with the right team backing him up, he should succeed. I wish him God speed.”
Mr Alam wants to dedicate the mission to world peace. “It is my flight to peace, which is dedicated to the sacrifices of those 60,000 Pakistanis that have died at the hands of terrorists. It’s about paying tribute to all those who fight for global security and world peace,” he said.
To help Mr Alam with his goal, email him at email@example.com.