Captain Michel Gordillo became the first pilot recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (F.A.I.) to not only circumnavigate both the North and South Poles in a homebuilt aircraft weighing under 1,750 kilograms (3,858 pounds), but to also be the first ever to fly a single-engine aircraft across Antarctica.

Sky Polaris record-setting trip highlights:

  • • Miles traveled: 47,475

  • • Kilometers traveled: 76,400

  • • Longest leg: 4,735 kilometers

  • • Countries visited: 25

  • • Hours flown: 305

  • • Highest altitude: 15,500 feet

  • • Fuel capacity: 192 U.S. gallons (730 liters).

Gordillo built the Vans RV-8 with the help of his three daughters, Lorena, Anaelle, and Marta, in his garage. “The main modifications I made during building were to the fuel system and wing fuel tanks,” Gordillo said. “I have a full leading-edge wet wing and that meant I had to move the landing light to the wing tip.”

Along with fulfilling the dreams of a true adventurer, Gordillo explained that the primary mission for Sky Polaris’ record-breaking flight was to gather critical data on the build up of black carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere in remote regions of the world.

“The study, ‘Absorbing aerosols monitoring over remote regions,’ is made by the University of Granada under the supervision of Dr. Lucas Alados and his team,” Gordillo said. “The data is gathered by special scientific equipment like LIDARS and Aethalometers. My aircraft was equipped by an Aerosols Aethalometer.”

“Because of its altitude and airspeed, the Sky Polaris has retrieved some very unique data from the atmospheres over big oceans, the Arctic, Antarctica, the Amazon region and desert areas I crossed during my flights,” he said. “The data is very good and will be distributed to scientists all over the world.”

About Captain Michel Gordillo

Michel Gordillo recently retired as an Airbus A320 captain for Spain’s Iberia Airlines. He also served in the Spanish Air Force and was an Advanced Navigator with the U.S. Air Force. He currently has over 15,000 hours of flight time. He lives in Madrid, Spain with his family.