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Around the World in Three Days!

By Martin Braun
May 8, 2006

Can traveling around the globe change your life? Moved by Steve Fossett's accomplishments, Martin Braun decided to circumnavigatie the globe... with commercial aircraft! Herein, you'll find his notes and experiences of circling the Earth in the most familiar way!

When Steve Fossett circumnavigated the globe non-stop, I was so inspired by his achievement that I tried to imagine how I could do the same, maybe even faster than him. But without Fossett’s impressive financial backing, and without the ability to build my own aircraft, my options were quite limited. Unfazed, I decided to take advantage of what is already up in the air at any time—commercial airliners.

Perhaps this endeavor seems silly—why go to all the trouble to end up where I begin? The answer is simple—I just wanted to get a feeling for how big or small the Earth is. And I felt by doing this, looking down from a plane would open up new perspectives for me. This was about trying to see the bigger picture; having it all in front of me in the best way I could. I believe it was a matter of education. First, we all struggle just to stand on our own two feet. Then, we learn how to walk a short distance. Later, we can run for many miles, then take a car or plane... So what’s the next logical step? Circling the globe with the eyes always open—of course! To grasp the size of our plant while staying conscious the entire time! That’s what I’ve dreamt about for so many years.

Finally, the day arrived, and the dream really came true. It was a Friday the 13th, the day to avoid, the day of bad luck (some airlines don’t have a seat row number 13 because of this). But today it is the day I will get my feet off the ground, and stay in the air for hours and hours… High above the clouds where the sun always shines, is right where Friday the 13th can’t affect me! I arrive at Vienna International Airport, jump out of my taxi and enter the entrance hall. All I have with me is a small bag that contains only the necessary things, like a second set of clothing and deodorant wipes as a shower substitute.

Airborne! The tail of the airplane is visible as the shadow on the ground during take-off—we’re on our way from Vienna to Frankfurt.

I enjoy looking out of the window. In fact, I bought all tickets as window seats without exception. It’s beautiful to see homes from a different angle—already I’m seeing a different perspective.

Shortly before Frankfurt the weather turns grey. The airplane is surrounded by clouds and remains for some time between the layers. It is wonderful to see the clouds below passing by very fast, reminding me of how fast I’m traveling. As we descend over Frankfurt, I still feel wide-awake, because I slept well the night before. I have to stay awake the whole time—it’s the only way I’ll grasp how big the planet really is!

Leaving the plane at about 8:00pm. It’s colder here, but soon I’ll be aboard another plane. I am wearing sandals, which makes me think I might be worst equipped traveler ever who ever flew around the globe.

It is getting dark, but it’s time to board the B747 for the first long range flight from Frankfurt to Tokyo.

Inside the B747—we’re on our way from Frankfurt to Tokyo. It’s still Friday the 13th and everything has gone smoothly so far. This is my first flight on a plane this large—I must say I was impressed by the swift take-off and easy climb. Friday the 13th has passed, and I have a great view of Siberia. The sky is not black yet it looks very dark and everything is blue.

Again, I’m feeling under-prepared. The cola I bought in Frankfurt was much more than it should’ve been and I’m wondering how quickly I’ll run out of money (Steve Fossett’s budget, indeed!) Also, I brought no food with me, so I am forced to eat whatever is available. So far it has been fish, fish and again fish. You’d think there would be less fish and more birds up here in the sky!

Snow draws beautiful patterns on ground...

Close to the west coast of Japan there is an island with the shape of an H. I believe it’s Sado but I’m not certain. The coastline will be in sight shortly.

As we’re in a holding pattern, the east coast of Japan becomes visible.

There was only a single moment during my around-the-world trip when I could actually see the sun clearly. I didn’t miss the chance to take a picture of it. Or should I say, my old, cheap camera, acting funnier by the minute, didn’t miss the chance.

Final approach at Narita International Airport. I’m looking forward to seeing an old friend who once studied piano music in Vienna. There was a time when I organized classical concerts in public and she was one of the pianists who participated. I haven’t seen her in years, and now I’ll only get to see her very briefly, as I have to get back in the air soon to cross the Pacific Ocean.

I’m lucky to have had a good meal at the airport, and it wasn’t fish this time! The customs officer didn't quite understand why my next flight was going to Toronto because I came from Frankfurt. He asked me what job I have and I explained that this is a special mission. It must have sounded strange to him. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he didn’t believe me, as my story did kind of sound like a bad excuse. I guess it was a little suspicious to only have one small bag with me.

As I board the A340, I realized how good I still felt. I’m still not tired and in very good condition.

The video wall is right in front of me. It is almost dark outside now. The takeoff is quite different from the 747’s. The plane went down the runway slowly, and for a moment the thought occurred that the takeoff might be aborted. Sitting in the airplane as it traveled down the runway at a high speed was a little unnerving- at last the nose lifted! We remained at almost-zero altitude for several seconds. Like in slow motion, it finally managed to get some air between tires and the runway. This A340, my weekend home, must have really been heavy!

Crossing the Pacific is the longest flight I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, I saw only a small part of it—it was covered completely by thick clouds. So I left my camera in the park position. As I was looking out of the window, a steward came over and excitedly told me that he heard I was circumnavigating the globe. He said he once flew gliders, and we spoke about how Steve Fossett also likes to fly gliders, and how no one has ever circumnavigated the globe in a glider. Don’t say it’s not possible! That may just become my next mission!

Countless tiny clouds, and finally some land! I ate another non-fish meal, and I’m thinking how with every hour, I am less delighted by the food served in planes. By now we’re on our way to Toronto. I learned later that there was something printed in the paper about my journey and stopover in Toronto, which explained why people I had never met knew my name! That added some sunshine to my day, even though we had miserable weather in Toronto.

Waiting for the next flight at the gates. It is dark again and the flight will be delayed by one hour. While I am sitting here watching TV, I realize there are only a few people around me. The silent ambience reminds me that I haven’t slept for a long time. I stand up and walk around in order to accomplish my goal of staying completely conscious.

We depart for Vienna at 11:00pm, for one last long trip over the Atlantic Ocean. Actually, compared to the Pacific the Atlantic wasn’t really a big deal—it seemed like we crossed it in no time. Interestingly this last flight seemed like the shortest, even though my condition was worsening rapidly. I can’t even smell the food any more. My appetite has left me, and I decide to pass on my last meal. This was the final stretch, so I decided to forge ahead without food and celebrate with a nice meal when I returned to where I started.

When we reach the western coast of Europe, the weather improves, and I’m feeling good again—I’m only a few hours away. My neighbor this time was pretty drunk. He said he was afraid of flying and hadn’t flown in seven years. I told him not to be frightened because technology is always evolving. As I became closer and closer to home, I began to think that the world wasn’t really that small after all…

Before I left, I recalled that Steve Fossett always had a Breitling watch with him when he flew around the world. So for this trip (and for myself), I bought a Martin Braun watch that displayed the time of the sunrise and sunset everyday. As I thought about how my watch was more sophisticated than my camera, I realized I had only 90 minutes to go. Perhaps I’d live life on the edge and try the breakfast!

Crossing overland, we had great views of the Danube River and Vienna airport. As I was looking out my window, the pilot initiated a right turn relatively close to the ground, and a sudden gust of wind increased the right bank. That was enough for some passengers to shout. But everything was quickly back under control and the plane turned to a short final approach.

A beautiful day at welcomed me back as we prepared to land at 2:00pm on Sunday, May 15.

If I had tried to take a picture of the runway’s edge, it wouldn’t have worked. I admit, I just pressed the trigger and had good luck to have captured the runway’s corner, and my return.

The new and the old tower of Vienna International Airport.

I’m back. In only 42 hours, I traveled around the world on commercial airliners, and didn’t sleep at all. Without luggage, I casually entered the arrival hall.

This was not the end. It would take another three hours to drive back home! Although it might be not a good idea to mention it, I drove straight home—still without any sleep. My radio was turned on very loud and I used rock music to keep my eyes open. When I finally got home, I couldn’t think about sleeping. Instead, I switched on the computer and transferred all the pictures from the camera. Then I took a long shower, had an excellent dinner, and went to bed in the evening. I don’t remember what I dreamt, but I do know it felt like flying in the sky.

This weekend changed my view of the world. For a long time I thought the world was incredibly vast, with endless space. Now I feel completely different—the world is small, and it’s amazing that we’re still all here after so many billions of years. During my flight around the world, I must have flown directly over so many people, of so many different nationalities. Many of them enjoy life; others don’t; some never had the chance. To get so far off the ground increased my sense of freedom enormously. The planet appears as a silent and wondrous place, a lonely jewel in the dark space. My journey opened my eyes. I’m thinking now about how human behavior isn’t appropriate for this planet, our home. I’m thinking about how we all share the same isolated place. I’m thinking about all those people who never had a chance to go around the world. I’m thinking about people who never had the chance to have a good childhood. My thoughts are with those who don’t have the freedom they deserve, and live in permanent disharmony with their surroundings. My wish for all of them is that they’ll have the chance in their life to see earth like it really is without getting distracted by human laws and restrictions.

Written by
Martin Braun

Martin Braun wants to build the largest aircraft ever, to break all the records. His Internet fund raising project can be visited at: largestplanetogether.com. He is also currently looking to somehow redirect his career towards aviation.

27 User Comments:
Username: VC10DC10 [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-09 06:09:48 and read 32768 times.

What an interesting tale! I enjoyed it greatly. Thank you very much!

Username: INeLLi [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-09 20:02:06 and read 32768 times.

wow that must have been fun. I will do it after I am 18. There will be A380's and 787's at that time :D YeaHHHH!!!!!!!!

Username: INeLLi [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-09 20:03:40 and read 32768 times.

maybe there will be different a/c than A380's 3 years later. (maybe smt. like A370 :P )

Username: INeLLi [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-09 20:06:30 and read 32768 times.

maybe there will be different a/c than A380's 3 years later. (maybe smt. like A370 :P ) . Thank you so much !!! I enjoyed it.

Username: Xaphan [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-09 23:37:47 and read 32768 times.

Great trip! Thanks for sharing and taking us with you.

Username: CcrlR [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-11 22:44:47 and read 32768 times.

Thanks for sharing. At least it's a lot interesting than one non-stop in a small aircraft.

Username: Anirishman [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-15 17:18:16 and read 32768 times.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your journey. I now want to do it too! (although I think I will sleep, and fortunately I love fish!)

Username: Jose2007cr [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-17 04:50:42 and read 32768 times.

Excenlent, i hope one day i would be able to do that, if i had money :(

Username: UpperDeck79 [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-17 09:26:15 and read 32768 times.

No offence, but VIE-FRA-NRT-YYZ-VIE is not really going around the world, it's more like going around the North Pole:


It's only 27306 km...

Username: LHR777 [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-18 11:12:08 and read 32768 times.

Hmmm...interesting! I'm planning an 'around-the-world' trip too, but in the shortest time, with commercial flights.

My plan is currently as follows:

LHR-NRT on BA5, xxth July, depart 1350, arrive 0910 xxth July
NRT-JFK on AA168, xxth July, depart 1750, arrive 1730 xxth July
JFK-LHR on BA174, xxth July, depart 1900, arrive 0705 xxth July

Total elapsed time LHR-LHR should be =41 hours 15 mins.

Here's the difference - I'm planning to do it all on staff travel, with subload tickets on a standby basis. This means that I get to circumnavigate the globe for £116.90 for the BA sectors plus $74 for the AA sector.

My mission is to circumnavigate the globe, in under 48 hours. I'm looking for sponsorship from my work colleagues, with all proceeds going to British Airways Dreamflight charity.

Does anyone have any better ideas for routings/timings?

Username: 777jaah [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-18 13:47:28 and read 32768 times.

Great tale. How long you spend inside the planes in total??

UpperDeck79, don't try to spoil a great story, one that that people in this site, including me, are jealous of.

Username: AvroArrow [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-20 21:14:53 and read 32768 times.

Pretty cool, if I had the spare time and $$$ I think it would be something fun to do. I might want to spend a day in each place just to see at least one sight, but I realize that defeats the point of doing it in 3 days. By the pictures I'm guessing that the airlines and aircraft he took are LH A320, AN 747-400, AC A340-300 and LH A340-300.

Username: Jsposaune [User Info]
Posted 2006-05-29 03:57:48 and read 32768 times.

Here's the difference - I'm planning to do it all on staff travel,

LHR777....Have a great time! I just did this on staff travel 3 months ago. Routing was:

It's the experience of a lifetime...have fun!!!


Username: Threepoint [User Info]
Posted 2006-06-01 00:53:37 and read 32768 times.

Very well written article and I enjoyed your thoughts. Nice photos too.

I think, in response to LHR777, that if you were to do an around-the-world trip for charity, you must establish a minimum number of km (as UpperDeck79 alluded to). Or you could define a certain line of latitude that you had to cross x number of times or fly close to. But as much as Martin's trip stayed close to the polar regions, the LHR-NRT-JFK-LHR proposal would be even more so.

Martin, sounds like you had a great experience...well done.

Username: Selwoode [User Info]
Posted 2006-06-05 10:11:34 and read 32768 times.

nice one Martin

not quite sure how you stayed awake :)

having just completed bne-tpe-bkk-lhr
I guess you were not in one place long enough to get Jet lag

Username: Jetpilot21 [User Info]
Posted 2006-06-07 19:08:10 and read 32768 times.

Given today's airline routines, I'm afraid these flights are the best a person can do to fly around the globe. Even traveling via Hawaii would only add a few thousand miles to the trip. It is a fact of life that most intercontinental flights fly very near the north pole, the shortest distance between the major population centers. This is why Steve Fossett's actual circumnavigation is so formidable.

Username: Jetpilot21 [User Info]
Posted 2006-06-07 19:31:43 and read 32768 times.

For future around the world questers, may I suggest a longer, more representative flight? The key is to cross the equator at least twice. Here is the route I would choose from my home city:

Route Distance Flt Time
SEA-LHR 4800nm 8:52
LHR-BKK 5940nm 10:59
BKK-PER 3313nm 6:08
PER-SYD 2041nm 3:46
SYD-LAX 7488nm 13:51
LAX-SEA 954nm 1:46
Totals: 24,535nm 45:22

Any takers?

Username: Jetpilot21 [User Info]
Posted 2006-06-07 19:35:06 and read 32768 times.

Here's what such a flight would look like: http://gc.kls2.com/cgi-bin/gc?PATH=SEA-LHR%2C+LHR-BKK%2C+BKK-PER%2C+PER-SYD%2C+SYD-LAX%2C+LAX-SEA&RANGE=&PATH-COLOR=&PATH-UNITS=mi&SPEED-GROUND=470&SPEED-UNITS=kts&RANGE-STYLE=best&RANGE-COLOR=&MAP-STYLE=&ETOPS=207

Username: EI787 [User Info]
Posted 2006-07-23 22:30:42 and read 32768 times.

Wow! A great article! Sounds very tiring though! Congratulations!

Username: Jumbojetsetter [User Info]
Posted 2006-08-06 15:47:02 and read 32768 times.

What a coincidence. As an airline employee, I too flew standby around the world back in 2000 to celebrate the coming of the new millenium. A colleague of mine and I took the challenge of flying the following route...YUL-YYZ-NRT-CDG-YUL. I left Montreal and connected in Toronto early Monday morning to celebrate AC's launch of the first direct flight YYZ-NRT and we made it on for the long journey across the Pacific. Once in NRT -arriving on Tuesday late morning, we strolled the city and 8 hours later boarded AF to CDG. That flight originated in Noumea and the passengers on board were a mix of Polynesian, Japanese and french and us-2 Canadians. Landing in Paris-CDG in the early hours of Wednesday morning- we figured lets have a croissant on the Champs Elysee and we did at like 7am..strolled the streets a little before we headed back to catch the last flight of our adventure CDG-YUL. We landed at around noon on Wednesday in YUL. So you can say we made it in 2 days and a few hours..visiting Tokyo for dinner, breakfast in Paris and lunch in Montreal. What a great way to remember that special year in my life.

Username: BlazingCessna [User Info]
Posted 2006-08-09 06:28:02 and read 32768 times.

My Itenerary is currently:

29 NOV 06
PFN->ATL 1330-1557 ASQ243 AT7
ATL->CDG 1715-0755 DAL22 763

30 NOV 06
CDG->SVO 1250-1830 AF2244 321
SVO->HKG 1935-1045 SU595 763

1 DEC 06
HKG->SFO 1250-0835 UA862 744
SFO->ATL 1100-1830 UA790 319
ATL->PFN 2032-2056 ASQ241 AT7

$4455.52 USD

Username: Gh123 [User Info]
Posted 2007-01-26 21:47:54 and read 32768 times.

Very good - congratulations!

Username: Tangram [User Info]
Posted 2007-02-01 22:42:07 and read 32768 times.

It's good to read an interesting story from another very passionate enthusiast. I did manage a round the world trip myself back in 1996, but did it in 7 days with interesting stop overs. I had a thoroughly enjoyable, but tiring time with a few hicups. 1996 is only 10 or so years ago, but was in a different era - little or no security making life so much easier for the air traveller. Maybe I should write the story sometime. For interest my itinery was:-
LHR - IAD United 777-222
IAD - DEN United 777-222 1 night in Denver
DEN - SFO United 777-222
SFO - HNL United 747-238 2 days in Waikiki
HNL - NRT United 747-122
NRT - SIN United 747-238 1 night in Singapore
SIN - HKG United 747-422 1 night in KaiTak - hotel cockup
HKG - DXB Emirates A310-300
DXB - LHR Emirates 777-200

Username: 00865801 [User Info]
Posted 2007-05-11 14:42:20 and read 32768 times.


Username: Sargek [User Info]
Posted 2007-05-12 00:23:58 and read 32768 times.

Sounds great. Is there jet lag involved in this or do you just get back before it happens.....

Username: Iloveklm [User Info]
Posted 2008-08-05 08:30:10 and read 32768 times.

I love the story...i can only imagine how fun that might of been.
I have a new route for around the world... being on 5 continents... Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, South America. Sorry, you can't go to Antartica.
So its: PRG-AMS-HKG-SYD-LAX-EZE-CDG-PRG. Heres the map.

The flights could be like this:

PRG-AMS: KLM 3124(CSA) B-737
AMS-HKG: KLM 887 B-747
HKG-SYD: CX 111 A-330
SYD-LAX: QF 107 B-747
LAX-MIA: AA 208 B-757
MIA-EZE: AA 909 B-767
EZE-CDG: AF 415 B-747
CDG-PRG: AF 1982 A-319
28191 nm
and your back, prg is my home airport, 5 continents 6 days...it isnt the shortest time... but atleast your going to all the available continents...so its not that bad..but i dont know how much it costs...but not bad... i am going to try that some day...when i turn 18...

Username: Bluefltspecial [User Info]
Posted 2013-11-26 18:41:17 and read 10134 times.

I've been debating on doing this. What a great read. Thanks so much!

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