Who is Diamondo Earthrounding
Diamondo Earthrounding is a Swiss non-profit initiative of nine aviation enthusiasts. Robin Wenger (29 years), a helicopter pilot in the Swiss Air Force, and Matthias Niederhäuser (28 years), an aviation consultant, are founding partners and the ones having the privilege to fly the DA50 RG around the world, thanks to the owner of the aircraft.
Why they fly
It already started in pre-COVID times. Robin and Matt were increasingly asked by their friends and relatives how sustainable flying really is. Both, very passionate about aviation and the industry, cared a lot about the public’s perception of aviation. Then the pandemic hit and the two used their extra spare time on thinking about their long-cherished dream of circumnavigating the world in an aircraft and how to incorporate sustainable flying into it. This led to Diamondo Earthrounding’s mission: linking worldwide initiatives for sustainable aviation, raising awareness of it and promoting ways of how one can invest voluntarily into a ‘greener’ flying.
How it came
The dream of flying around the world together is as old as Matt and Robin’s friendship. In 2013, they met at university, spending long study nights together and imagining how it would be. A very welcoming break from all the studying and assignments. Though having moved forward to further educations and professions, they kept on following their dream. 2019, with Matt’s soon to be completed pilot training (scheduled for December 2021) in mind, they finally started planning their circumnavigation. Soon they were affected by COVID-19 - also impacting Matt’s training. Yet in 2020, the two remained confident that the situation would have eased by 2022. “If you are looking for an example of poor judgement, there you have it,” the two commented on their planning.
However, the break from airline training gave Matt the chance to support a longtime pilot friend of his, Fritz Leuenberger, in fulfilling his dream of owning his private aircraft. Fritz was looking at different aircraft including the DA50 RG. It didn’t take long until Fritz, his wife, Robin and Matt were invited by Diamond for a demonstration flight with the DA50 RG. Matt still recalls Fritz’s wide grin after rolling in from his first flight (side note: at Diamond Aircraft we call this the “Diamond Smile”). When Fritz’s wife saw him after his flight, she confirmed Matt’s assumption that Diamond had a good chance of gaining a new customer. And that’s how it really came.
September 2021 Fritz could pick up his sparkling new DA50 RG at the Diamond Aircraft HQ in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. That’s where Robin and Matt’s dream of flying around the world started to become reality. As a generous way of saying thank you for supporting him during the purchase and delivery process, Robin and Matt were allowed to rent Fritz’s aircraft to finally start their flight around the world.
How did they prepare
“We were able to benefit a lot from the Diamond ferry pilot team as well as people who did similar flights beforehand,” says Robin and Matt adds: “As with many things in aviation, it’s never wrong to seek advice from fellow pilots, especially ones with plenty of experience on such missions.” "Planning is key to such an undertaking and the earlier you start the easier it gets. In a world with COVID regulations, one also needs to bring the flexibility to rearrange what might have looked as the perfect plan in the beginning," the both of them agree.
In Spring 2021 Robin and Matt started looking for partners supporting their mission as well as for initiatives for sustainable flying, which would be willing to host the crew. Quite soon the two pilots realized that to pull off the mission, they required some extra pair of hands and brains. So, they went back to the university, the one where they first dreamed about the circumnavigation, and found six aviation students that were eager to come aboard the project in Summer 2021. Since then a lot has happened, for instance the implementation of a system that enables private patrons to support Diamondo Earthrounding by donating through their website. In Fall 2021 a close friend of Matt joined as a project manager and made the team complete.
They had to take care of the preparation of the aircraft, such as a ferry tank system and other technical questions. Of course, many aspects of the planning and execution were influenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, for instance this had a significant impact on how the current route was finally planned.
Robin and Matt accompanied many steps of their preparations and training via video. You can check them out as well as regular VLogs on the Diamondo Earthrounding YouTube channel.
Route & timeframe
Robin and Matt started their journey on 2 January 2022 and are planning to be back on 22 April 2022, which coincides with World Earth Day, matching their mission’s theme. To make use of the predominantly westerly wind flow patterns, the route follows Eastbound with start and end point Zurich, Switzerland. More details on the route and a live tracker can be found on their website.
- Aircraft: Diamond Aircraft DA50 RG
- Direction of travel: Eastbound
- Distance: 51,000 kilometers
- Departure Date: January 2nd, 2022
- Flight Time: 230 hours
- Duration: 111 days
- Airports: 73
- Countries: 35
- Crew: 2
How it went so far
“So far we have been able to meet many local supporters and it’s cool knowing some of them have their name flying with us with a sticker on the DA50 RG, which is part of what we offer in return of becoming a Diamondo Earthrounding Patron,” Matt says.
After departing Switzerland, Robin and Matt first headed to Diamond Aircraft in Austria. “Experiencing the jet fuel efficiency of Diamond Aircraft’s designs firsthand, we of course had to include the Diamond factory as our first initiative for sustainable aviation along our route,” the two said.
The route then led them via Hungary into Greece and they crossed the Mediterranean and Red Sea in one day before flying through Saudi Arabia to the UAE and from there to India. They are now (at the time of writing) in Thailand where the aircraft undergoes a scheduled maintenance inspection at a local Diamond Service Center. “Being able to benefit from this worldwide network of certified maintenance centers really is a huge plus we and fellow Diamond Earthrounders can benefit from,” Robin says.
From Thailand the crew is planning to cross the Pacific via Hawaii and wants to tour the West Coast of the US. After a flight to the Caribbean, where Fritz will join Robin and Matt, they want to head North along the Eastern US. Via Canada, where they plan to stop by at Diamond Aircraft Canada, the two young aviators plan to cross the North Atlantic on the classic “Diamond Ferry Route” more or less taking the opposite path of the first DA50 RG crossing the pond.
What they look forward to
Matt says that he is especially looking forward being able to fly around Hawaii. It’s where he started off developing his passion for flying by playing flight simulator games in his youth. Robin is anticipating traversing the Greenland Ice Cap in April: “We’ve seen it many times on videos of fellow Earthrounders and can tell that we will be stoked seeing it for ourselves.” The crew is also looking forward to being able to fuel their aircraft up with SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuels) blended jet fuel at locations where it is available, for instance at Monterey or Van Nuys, California. Through their partnership with Jet Aviation and their SAF ‘Book and Claim’ system, the crew can claim to conduct their circumnavigation with net-zero carbon emissions.
Where to follow their journey
If you are interested in their exciting journey, here is where you can follow Robin & Matt: