Wang will have a satellite phone to keep in touch with friends and family.
Julie Wang wants to be on top of the world. And she will be as of this past Saturday, she embarked on a mission to become the first Chinese woman to fly solo around the world.
She took off at 8 a.m. from Witham Field Airport in Stuart Florida.
Her first stop is Texas, then on to San Francisco and next to Hawaii. She will make a total of 17 stops and travel over 26,000 miles, 23,000 of those over water, before coming back to her home in West Palm Beach. Her journey will take 35 to 50 days.
Wang would become one of only a handful of women to complete the solo trip.
“I hope to influence other women pilots,” Wang said. “I would be really happy to do that.”
Wang’s passion for flight began in China, where she was born. Both of her parents were aerospace professors at Harbin Institute of Technology in China.
Wang moved from China to West Palm Beach six years ago with her husband. In China, she worked in the advertising industry, but in America she decided she wanted to pursue her passion of flight.
“In America, the aviation culture is pure, and it’s kind of spiritual to fly,” she said.
In 2011, she received her pilot license. She later met Wei Chen, a Chinese man who flew around the world in 69 days, who inspired her to take her own journey. “I told myself: ‘I could do that, I could actually fly around the world,'” she said.
Wang is optimistic but wary of a few things. Her single-engine plane doesn’t have a parachute, and she will spend most of her time traveling over water. She also has to sit in the plane for extended hours — her longest trip is 17 hours. During these times, she said that she needs to concentrate to avoid being distracted.
“I have snacks that I will eat every hour and drink a lot,” she said. “I will avoid any coffee and chocolate, that can make me [tired].”
She also said she has a satellite phone so she can talk to friends and family along the way.
Patrick Connell trained Wang to become a pilot. He is confident in her abilities to make the trip.
“Julie is an extremely intelligent, knowledgeable individual,” Connell said. “She’s the kind of person that will aggressively pursue anything that sparks her interest.”
Connell said around-the-world flights can be dangerous, but he wishes Wang luck.
“There’s always dangers with the environment and the weather,” he said. “My biggest concern would be potential mechanical and environment issues, both of which you have very little control over.”