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Aviation for Science
Black Carbon pollution research
Mediterranean 2017
  • 1 biologist
  • 1 light aircraft - 290kg
  • Around the World - westbound
  • 6 equator crossings
  • over 80 000 km
  • 7 continents
  • 120 National Parks
  • 3 Oceans
  • Antarctic
  • Mt. Everest
  • Minimum unleaded fuel
  • New aerial images
in collaboration with Pipistrel Slovenia


  • Fly the lightest 3-axis aircraft (290kg / 640lb) around the World westbound
  • Burn the smallest amount of fuel per distance flown
  • Make the nicest book about World Waters


On the way around the world

In the early days of 2012, Matevž Lenarčič, a biologist, environmentalists and photographer-pilot will again set course in his small aircraft for a lonely flight around the world, this time in a westerly direction. The tiny ultra light Virus-SW914, made by the worldwide renowned company Pipistrel, weighs only 290kg / 640lb and is the fastest aircraft in the world in its category, using less fuel per distance flown. Its abilities have been proven in two NASA sponsored competitions in the USA, where for two consecutive years the aircraft received prestigious awards for its exceptional flight characteristics. The aircraft is produced under the Pipistrel brand Ecolution www.pipistrel.si/top-quality/ecolution-our-philosophy , meaning 100% autonomous energy production with optimized, computer-controlled acquisition of green energy (solar, air and geothermal).


Look at the images - feel the planet

Flying around the world in a small airplane has a profound meaning. Low and slow over the surface, with a notion of the planet revolving  beneath the wings, but fast enough to discover its secrets. These secrets will be stored in digital memory cards and then communicated to the people of our planet, so they will also get a feel for their world. Only people with a sense of the world are able to protect it. More than 70% of Earth's surface is covered with water. Due to different physical states, different quality and distribution, almost a third of the human population has limited or even blocked access to safe drinking sources. We can all change that. Images will show places with plenty of clean drinking water and places without a single drop. We are going to show very different faces of water and warn the world that lack of water brings even more tension to the society than oil trade.


In the eco-friendly light aircraft

GreenLight WorldFlight faces Pipistrel and the pilot with a number of challenges. The aircraft must safely operate when flying at very high or low polar temperatures and extreme altitudes. In addition, the fuel consumption must remain at very low levels, as some stages are over 4000km long, and the amount of fuel on board of such a small aircraft is very limited. Only by an ideal combination of weight, drag and lift the required results can be achieved. The aim is to fly over 80,000km (twice the lenght of Earth's) around the world in with a minimal use of 95 octane unleaded fuel. Besides high speeds close to 300km/h (160kts), the aircraft must remain stable at very low speeds below 80km/h (43kts). So far, this is the only aircraft with such capabilities, so Pipistrel sets new standards in environmentally-friendly and utility flying.


We will demonstrate that a lightweight aircraft can provide valuable information on the black carbon - BC and light absorbing carbonaceous aerosols - LACA concentrations, their regional heterogeneity and vertical profiles with a minor payload and for a fraction of the cost associated with large airborne platforms. We will modify the aircraft to include an aerosol inlet and use an Aethalometer to measure aerosol optical properties at different wavelengths. The wavelength dependence of absorption will enable us to attempt to apportion the BC concentrations to two major sources: biomass and fossil fuel combustion. Measurements will be performed throughout the flight and will include regions, where no or very little measurements have taken place, such as Antarctica, Africa and over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.