Together, Barry and Sandra Payne of Taupō are the Bazflyers, and New Zealand's first official "Earthrounders" - people who have flown around the world in a small aircraft.
Theirs was not the first Kiwi attempt at "earthrounding". Cliff Tait of Tauranga attempted to fly around the world in 1969 but was thwarted by not being able to gain permission to fly via the-then Soviet Union. Now, 50 years later, the Bazflyers have been able to close the loop, and say their trip was partly in honour of Cliff.
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The pair left on April 26 from Taupō, departing New Zealand from Kerikeri on April 28. They returned on October 19 and Sandra says the best sight of all was their family - two sons and three of their four grandchildren - lined up on the Taupō Airport tarmac to greet them.
All up, the couple were away for five months and three weeks or 175 days. They spent 50 days of that flying four to nine hours per day, and flew 58,945km.
Their itinerary took them to Australia, Papua New Guinea, Guam, Japan, Russia, the US (Alaska), Canada, the mainland US, Canada again, Greenland, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Russia, Japan, The Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and back to New Zealand.
The longest leg, 9.1 hours, was from Guam to Kagoshima, Japan and was entirely over water, with not a boat, an island or a village to be seen. From there they flew up to Russia and across to Alaska.
In fact their flight was longer than many Earthrounders' flights because the couple flew to the Northern Hemisphere first and then made their circuit of the globe from there. Technically they also flew more than round the world, because they 'closed the loop' three times by flying through the same point. They passed through Kagoshima, Japan twice and Coolangatta on the Gold Coast twice before returning to New Zealand.
The Paynes say their voyage was significant because of the number of 50s involved. It was 50 years since Cliff Tait first attempted to fly around the world from New Zealand and instead had to ship his aircraft from Japan to Vancouver.
It's also been 50 years since Barry began flying, and 50 years since the couple have been together. For those reasons, Barry says, 2019 had to be the year the Bazflyer made its trip.
While Barry started flying in the RNZAF before later becoming an entrepreneur, Sandra learned to fly nine years ago.
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"It was the year I was turning 60 and it was a good reason to celebrate. Barry had been trying to get me to fly for 40 years," says Sandra. "It's been helpful because we can fly as a crew, I don't have to sit there doing my knitting."
Their 1962 Piper Comanche 250 is a single-engine four-seater plane the couple have owned for 10 years and have flown "practically everywhere" in Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific in it. It can be flown by a single pilot or a crew. Its usual cruising speed is 300km/h at around 9000 to 12,000 feet and it can fly between 11 and 12 hours using 530 litres of fuel carried in its two wing tanks, plus an extra tank in the back.
Sandra says she suspects Barry's goal was always to become an Earthrounder and Barry admits to fly around the globe is "the Everest of small aircraft flying".
"About 7000 people have climbed Everest, over 400 people have been into space but only 700 people have flown their own aircraft of every description around the world. For a single engine aircraft we're the 240th since 1924, so it's just one of those things to do."
The logistics - researching weather patterns, organising airspace access, landing permissions and the like seem daunting but Sandra says Barry is a very professional pilot who knew what he wanted to do, worked out how to do and planned accordingly. The couple also had some professional help procuring all the permits they needed, and the assistance of an experienced Russian aviator for the Russia leg, who secured flight approvals and arranged fuel.
On top of that the aircraft had to be prepared, kitted out with items such as a life raft and immersion suits.
Their planning paid off and the entire journey went without a hitch. Barry says the Piper flew faultlessly, there were no moments of trepidation or trauma and "it was an extremely uneventful and beautiful trip, just amazing."
Sandra says part of that was about not being in a rush.
"We were very particular about choosing the weather we would fly in and if we had to stay on a day or two, that wasn't a problem."
When the couple originally looked at doing an earth round trip, in 2015, Russia at that stage wasn't able to be flown through and so they considered doing a traditional route through Asia and the Middle East.
But access had changed by the time of their trip and they enjoyed the leg from Japan to Russia and then Russia to Alaska so much that on their way back around they elected to fly across Siberia and are pleased they did. It took them seven days of flying to cross Russia, although they were in the country for three weeks and were greeted as celebrities wherever they went.
It wasn't all point-to-point shortest-distance flying either. In the US the Paynes flew the Piper back to where it was built in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania,, took a side trip to New York and then with Sandra's sister who had come over from New Zealand to see them, flew to Tulsa, Oklahoma for 10 days to visit Sandra's brother.
The Paynes then took the opportunity to join 15,000 other aircraft and their pilots at the world's biggest airshow at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, (another 50, as it was the 50th anniversary of the show) where the Piper won a bronze Lindy award (named after famous aviator Charles Lindbergh) in the vintage contemporary aircraft category.
On the ground the couple stayed in a mixture of hotels, bed and breakfasts, in apartments or with friends and it was the interaction with other aviators and local people that was the highlight of the trip.
"We did a couple of back to back flights but usually we would stay a minimum of two days but usually four or five days somewhere," says Sandra. "One of the main reasons for our flight was to meet people because that's what the world's all about and we were very blessed that we had people that wanted to embrace us and adopt us and show us their way of living."
Barry says apart from in Oklahoma and in the UK where they visited friends, they never knew anybody before they arrived at a destination, but it didn't take long for word to spread.
"Basically we arrived anonymously in some place and very quickly 'here are these senior couple from New Zealand flying an aeroplane around the world' and it just always goes from there."
Sandra: "One of the biggest things was people when they saw how old we were. In Russia we were on television practically every single night and on radio stations. We were known as a couple with a combined age of 142 and I got labelled 'The Flying Babushka' - the flying grandmother."
As an older active couple the Paynes were a rarity in Russia, where the average life expectancy for men is only 66. Russians were in awe of Barry's 73 years and Sandra's 69, and even more so because very few women can fly.
The couple say while it was sometimes quite overwhelming, people's goodwill towards them was genuine and Barry says the aim of the trip was twofold.
"We broke it down into two things. One is that we had to move the aeroplane from place to another so there was a flight and each flight you plan for that on the day prior and execute it and there was a reasonably disciplined transaction, but in between those were open to anything. For example, we twice flew around Moscow in a helicopter and I was flying it. There were so many unplanned, unexpected, really fascinating experiences."
The couple say the only thing that was really challenging was the language barrier. Although the language of aviation is English, Barry says different accents sometimes made it difficult to understand what the air traffic controllers were saying.
"We would have to have a conference between [Sandra and I] and work out what we thought they had said. And when you're on the ground, English is definitely not widely spoken so trying to communicate with people who have a different language and in itself just produces some fascinating outcomes."
Barry says language difficulties notwithstanding, the thing that stood out the most was a shared humanity.
"We are all the same. Everybody has families and loved ones and the only principal difference is that we speak different languages."
While the people were the highlight, the scenery didn't disappoint either. The Paynes say they could fly for hours over mountains, or prairies or forests or farmland without seeing a single sign of habitation.
"Every single place we went to, we could tell you amazing things we saw or did. There was no one single place that didn't have something amazing to offer," says Sandra.
"We set out to welcome the unexpected and when we were open to that and when it happened we embraced it and that's what added so much diversity to the trip."
The Bazflyers say while it's been lovely to be home with family, in some ways it's hard to adjust and they are both wondering what the next trip should be.
Barry says they'll head for a trip to Australia at some point but after that, who knows? There's not a single place they visited that they wouldn't gladly return to.
"There's nothing to say we can't go around the other way. There are people that have flown around the world multiple times. Five trips is the record."