– STORY –

The TRIKE GLOBETROTTER on World Tour!

Anyone who get to see how Andreas Zmuda lives his life may feel slightly dizzy. He has lived adventure for many years. For more than 20 years his home was the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America. Only when he met his new girlfriend, Doreen, did he start to settle down. Though this lasted only for a short while: Until both extreme adventurers gave up their home in Berlin in the summer of 2012. They sold everything they owned and without much planning they set off into the unknown: On a 160,000 km long world record flight that would take many years and where they would discover the world from above.

The two flying nomads Zmuda and Kroeber see their flight adventures not only as a “trip,” but instead, for them, it has become a philosophy of life.

After these extreme adventurers flew over North, South and Central America, the amazing islands of the Caribbean and Florida and New York – with a spectacular flight around the Statue of Liberty and the skyscrapers of Manhattan – they arrived on the European continent in 2018. There they flew from Belgium to Luxembourg, to Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, and to Sweden, Norway and Finland. Then finally, it was on to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.

Their African adventure is waiting for them in 2021, right after the Covid-19 restrictions lift! Till then, both will spend the entire winter 2020/2021 on the Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe. Then 2-3 years will follow across Africa, 2-3 years in Asia…and maybe they will even reach Australia by 2028.

Andreas & Doreen

The two met in November 2010 during an Amazon expedition through Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. Andreas was the expedition leader, Doreen was a “tourist”…and from the day they met, they were bound by their love for each other, as well as by their common passions for all kinds of adventures, good food, wine and a fascination for flying around the globe in an open aircraft!

Andreas…

was born some 50+ years ago in West-Berlin. He “muddled” through life as best he could, working as: An electrician (with a journeyman’s certificate!), a gardener, a builder on private house projects, an insurance agent, a soccer coach, as founder of the “1st Breakfast Service for Construction Sites“… and in many more jobs!

From the age of 15 he hitchhiked all over Europe with a backpack, before he emigrated to Venezuela in the early 1990s to spend a few months in the vast Venezuelan jungle as well as in the jungle of English Guyana. There he was completely isolated from any civilization while he lived with a native Indian tribe. During this trip, he experienced wonderful encounters with fascinating local people and gained deep insights their culture, traditions and way of life, as well as him being able to discover and get to know the local South American flora and fauna.

In the US, he (very slowly…) learned Spanish and did his sport pilot’s license at the same time. This was all before he decided to first live in Venezuela and later in Colombia, then Ecuador, then Belize, and then in the Bahamas, and then – where he ended up spending most of his time – on the Caribbean Robinson Island Tobago, always enjoying life to the fullest.

In South and Central America he worked for 22 years as a tour guide and organizer of adventurous tours and jungle expeditions, until he met his Doreen on an Amazon expedition, which motivated him to return to freezing cold Europe…Well, at least for a few months.

His biggest goal in life is to enjoy it: Filling it up with lots of outdoor activities, good wine, (a lot) of food and with adventurous trips around the world…as well as with his passion “to get airborne,” with everything that has wings. At 50+, an age where everyone else is thinking about their imminent retirement, he’s just starting his new life as a flying nomad…

Doreen …

was born 40+ years ago in Halle (Saale), a city in the former communist GDR.

Growing up as an only child in a very loving family, Doreen then went to a sports school in East-Berlin in her early teenage years to further improve her talent at speed skating. After successfully completing her degree as an industrial engineer, her professional passion was the implementation of construction projects. Right up to the start of our expedition, she worked in a high position in the construction of the new metropolitan airport “Berlin – Brandenburg (BER).” And no, it wasn’t her fault that the airport didn’t open on time.  😉

Her biggest hobbies (besides Andreas 😉) are: Outdoor activities, photography, good wine and food, as well as adventurous trips around the world.

From June 2012, her full attention has been devoted to the Trike-Globetrotter flight project. She quit her good job to take off into the air together with Andreas and to discover the world from a completely new perspective.

The idea…

One day, during the winter of 2011/2012, Doreen and Andreas were sitting on a cozy, red sofa in their apartment (refurbished former prison of the communist GDR State Security Service) in Berlin-Rummelsburg, with a bottle of good wine. They were thinking about where to go on vacation in the coming summer of 2012.

– “Hey, why don’t we buy a small ultralight-trike, a trailer and a used, small RV in the USA. And then drive around the US for three weeks in the summer and then also fly over San Francisco, Florida, the Grand Canyon and, and, and …!”

– “Great idea” – replied Doreen – “…but why don’t we also then fly on to Belize, where you’ve lived for a few years?”

– “Okay, no problem, but then forget about the RV and you’ll need to take a three-month holiday from work.”

– “Great, I’ll get in touch with my employer! But you also lived in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and some Caribbean islands. Let’s go there straight after as well!”

– “Well, then you’ll need to take a year off and we can explore the entire American continent, the Caribbean and, at the end, I can fly the trike across the pond back to Germany.”

Then we opened a second bottle of wine…

– “Great, but to fly super low above the elephants in Africa, that would be my biggest dream come true. What do you think?” Doreen asked enthusiastically.

– A short pause on my end. But then I replied: “Great, but then let’s really do it: You’ll quit your job, we’ll sell everything and fly from Africa to Asia to Australia. We’ll make it a world tour. In 3-4 years we should reach our destination of Sydney in Australia!”

We toasted to that with the third bottle of wine and committed to our dream!

What inspires us…

Otto Lilienthal, the Bethke brothers and Jimmy Angel…and the story of how Andreas got into flying…

Karl Wilhelm Otto Lilienthal (born May 23, 1848 in Anklam; † August 10, 1896 in Berlin, after a crash on one of his flying machines) was THE German aviation pioneer. As far as we know today, he was the first person to successfully and repeatedly complete gliding flights with an “airplane” (a hang glider). His preliminary experimental work led to the physical description of the wing, which theory is still valid to this day. The production of the glider – the “Normalsegelapparat” – in Lilienthal’s factory in Berlin, was the first-ever series production of an aircraft. Its Principle of Flight was that of today’s hang glider, and this was further developed by the Wright brothers into the principle of the motorized airplane. Lilienthal was definitely an inspiration for our flight!

But Andreas was first inspired to become a pilot by the two German brothers Bethke HERE a youtube video about their getaway), who rescued their third brother from the communist East Berlin in 1989 with an ultralight aircraft!

In the middle of the night, they flew with two “Ikarus Vox II” ultralight aircraft from a sports field in West Berlin to “Treptower Park” in East Berlin, where the third brother boarded their aircraft! After 11 minutes and 13 seconds of flight, they landed back in West Berlin in front of the Berlin Reichstag …where they first went to have a beer on the famous “Ku-Damm!”

Ascent of the Auyan-Tepui…

Ascent to the Auyan Tepui…

After Andreas emigrated to Venezuela in 1992, he lived for seven months with the Pemon and Kamaratoco Indians in the middle of the jungle of the famous table mountains. There he met Jose Manuel Ugarte, the adopted child of the great explorer James Crawford Angel Marshall, better known as Jimmy Angel.

Since then, Andreas has dreamt of, at least once in his life, flying in his own plane around these magical mountains of Venezuela and, almost 80 years after Jimmy Angel’s landing on the Auyan-Tepui, of searching the mountain for gold and diamonds! His dream would come true during the Trike-Globetrotter expedition in March 2013!

The American bush pilot, Jimmy Angel, incidentally, was the first pilot who, in 1921, was willing and crazy enough to fly into this area. He was hired by an elderly gold digger in Panama to land on the summit of the Auyan-Tepui and from there recover substantial amounts of gold that the gold digger had hidden there in a cave. “There was gold everywhere there!” he told everyone when he came back…

After the job was completed, the gold prospector passed away, and it was only in 1935 that Angel returned there for the first time and discovered the falls had been named after him (the Indians already knew of the waterfall before the settlers and renamed it after Angel after they had heard of his landing there).

The “Angel Fall” (Pemon language: Kerepakupai Vena, which means something like “Waterfall of the Deepest Place”) is the highest, uninterrupted waterfall in the world, falling down the west side of a gorge of the Auyan-Tepui. With a total height of 979 m (3,212 ft) and a continuous fall of 807 m (2,648 ft), it is more than 15 times higher than the Niagara Falls.

Two years later, in 1937, Jimmy Angel attempted another daring landing on the Auyan-Tepui. He thought he had recognized the place where he had previously loaded the gold with the prospector, but despite a successful landing, the plane (the “Rio Caroni”) sank in the different and soft ground. And so Angel, his wife Marie and his companions (Gustavo Henry and his gardener!) had to continue on foot. Fortunately, Henry had previously climbed the tepui, and so the group was able to climb down the mountain’s south flank and get back to Kamarata in an 11-day hike.

The first steps…

After Andreas had read reports from some pioneer trike-flyers, such as from: The British Brian Milton, who was the first to fly around the world; the French Guy Delage, who flew (also in a DTA trike) across the Atlantic from Africa to Brazil; Dave Sykes, the British paraplegic pilot who flew solo from England to Sydney; the South African Ricky de Agrela; Alan Honeyborne and Martin Warner, with their still current world record flight of over 40,000 miles and with their two tragic deaths; Richard Meredith-Hardy’s London-Sydney expedition; Mark Jackson’s Mount Everest flight; Mike Blyth and Olivier Aubert flying adventures in Africa, Europe and South America including an Atlantic crossing over Greenland… Andreas wanted to fly his own “trike” and to live his own adventures on all five continents!

CFI Abid Farooqui

His first flight attempts Andreas carried out at the “Good Hope Flying School” in Cape Town in South Africa, as well as in Port of Spain in Trinidad & Tobago at the “BRIKO Air Services Flight School” on Cessnas and Pipers. But after flying in Ecuador in an airborne trike with his dentist (who made him some fresh, new ceramic teeth between the flights), Andreas discovered his love for this “crazy vehicle.” He immediately got his SPL (sport pilot license) and later his PPL (pilot license) in Zephyrhills, Florida, USA.

Andreas in his “FIB” in San Ignazio / Belize

Big thanks at this point from Andreas go to his incredibly patient friend and CFI, Abid Farooqui.

Andreas’ first own trike was a trike known as a “flying rubber dinghy” (FIB) and with it, Andreas flew locals and tourists around the Mayan ruins in Belize. The FIB was patented in 1986 by Polaris Motor SRL, the first Italian manufacturer of gliders and microlights.

 

In a Gyro through Australia….

Since 1987 more than 1000 of them have been flown all around the world (in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Red Sea, Argentina, Madagascar, USA etc.). The Navy Seals of Singapore use the FIB for special missions. Greenpeace has two FIBs and they used them during some French nuclear tests.

Not being completely sure whether a microlight trike or a gyrocopter would be the right vehicle for his airborne adventures, Andreas travelled to Australia for a couple of weeks to take a few flying lessons with his friend and flight instructor, Don Cramer, in Dalby. But…Andreas loves a nice wing over his head…and no rotors …

Andreas with "a little longer hair" in Blue Creek / Belize
Andreas in Cape Town 2006 with his son Stevie after a flight around the "Cape of Good Hope"
Stevie in Belize in "his" flying boat....
Andreas refueling in Florida ... one day before his friend Sean had a fatal accident with this trike ...
captain Steven "Stevie" Zmuda - Burke
Doreen & Andreas in front of the "Rio Caroni"