(Cedar Rapids, IA) -- Peter Teahen and John Ockenfels have taken off today (Friday) from the Eastern Iowa Airport on a three-month journey around the globe. The two friends and cousins (by marriage) plan to stop in 21 countries and raise money to fight polio, which has made a comeback in some countries around the globe.
"And we're so close to eliminating polio and that's why we need to stop it now before it starts spreading again and creating all sorts of problems," said Teahen.
Teahen says their first stop will be in New Hampshire, then they'll fly to Newfoundland, Iceland, Scotland, Denmark, northern Germany, Belgium, France, Portugal, The Netherlands, southern Germany, the Isle of Crete, the Middle East, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bali, Australia, and several Pacific Islands, before arriving in Hawaii, then California, Colorado and back in Iowa.
The two will be flying a Cessna 210. The longest leg of the journey is from Hawaii to California, which, in a smaller aircraft, will take between 14-16 hours.
Teahen, a funeral director and Ockenfels, a businessman have been flying for a number of years. They became intrigued by helping the fight against polio thru their ties to the Rotary Club International. Their Flight To End Polio was to take place years ago but was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, fighting in Ukraine disrupted the trip. Teahan says this year, however, they expect to complete the trip and become among just a few hundred living pilots who have flown around the world in a single-engine airplane.
Teahen and Oakenfels are funding the trip themselves, but donations to the cause will be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He says they've already raised nearly $1 million to fight polio.