A retired couple touched down at 43 airports in 23 countries as they toured the globe in a plane they built themselves.
Sylvia Foster, 60, and her husband Brian, 67, clocked up 32,428 miles on their epic 160-day voyage trip.
Mrs Foster said: ‘It was stressful at times but we had a lot of great fun. We saw lots of new places and met lots of lovely people.’
High flyers! Sylvia Foster, 60, and her husband Brian, 67, clocked up 32,428 miles on their epic 160-day voyage trip in a plane they built themselves
Mrs Foster, originally from Norwich, Norfolk, and Brian, a retired pharmacist, spent two years building their very own aircraft before setting off on their incredible trip through 23 countries and 43 airports
Mrs Foster, originally from Norwich, Norfolk, and Brian, a retired pharmacist, spent two years building their very own aircraft before setting off on their incredible trip.
The Fosters took to the skies from their home in Port Alfred in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.
Their magical once-in-a-lifetime adventure took them to the likes of Tanzania, Iceland, the United States, New Zealand and the Seychelles.
The couple made 42 stops in 23 different countries during their once-in-a-lifetime journey
And they also stopped off in Mrs Foster’s home city of Norwich.
‘I cannot believe we did it really. We both wake up in the morning and say, “We flew around the world. Did we really do that?” It’s incredible,’ said the mother-of-two.
The high-flying team, who got married in 2015, started preparing for their classic adventure in 2014.
The grandmother , who moved to South Africa in 2010, said: ‘It started off we were going to buy an airplane in America and fly it back to South Africa.
Tick that off the bucket list! Their magical once-in-a-lifetime adventure saw them fly over scenic countries like Iceland (pictured)
‘Then we thought, if we are going to fly back to South Africa we might as well do a world trip. It snowballed from there.
‘We couldn’t find the plane we wanted so we ended up building one.’
The pair made their RV-10 plane – a four-seater, single engine aircraft – from a kit from American company Van’s Aircraft.
The aircraft, which has a 260hp Lycoming engine, is capable of a cruising speed of around 200mph.
Can you build your own plane? Online kits that allow aviation enthusiasts to make an aircraft in their own garage
Plane-building kits are purchased online and much of the parts come complete.
All necessary aluminum forming is done, all welding is completed at the factory, molded canopies and fiberglass parts are supplied and the hardware is included.
Rivet and bolt holes are pre-punched into all the parts, all part alignments and measurements are set at the factory.
The pair made their RV-10 plane , a four-seater, single engine aircraft , from a kit from American company Van’s Aircraft
A two-gar garage will provide plenty of space to build the aircraft, though many have been built in much smaller environments.
Good light, air conditioning or heat as the climate requires, good ventilation and good organisation are essential.
A plane like the one the Fosters built should take around 2000 man hours just for the basics.
Complex avionics, instruments and fancy interiors or paint jobs can add hundreds of hours to the project.
RVs are usually finished in 20-30 months elapsed time, all in.
The Fosters’ aircraft cost around £11,000 but there are cheaper, and more expensive, alternatives.
Mr Foster began to put it together in October 2014 as he worked virtually from dawn to dusk all week.
‘It was full-time work for Brian. He worked seven days a week from 8am until 6pm.
‘I went in most days but not for as long. We finished the plane in October 2016 then it took a few months to get the paperwork done,’ said Mrs Foster.
‘We had lots of plans. There was plan A, B, C – depending on when the plane was finished because of the prevailing winds.’
They made their maiden flight on May 31 last year from Port Alfred to Pilanesberg in South Africa.
The trips that followed ranged from one of just 30 minutes from Kilimanjaro to Arusha, Tanzania, to a 14-hour marathon from Merced, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Fosters set off from their home in Port Alfred in South Africa’s Eastern Cape and took to the skies after over 2 years of preparation
The pair stopped off in Norwich, Norfolk, to let Mrs Foster visit her home city once again to catch up with her sons George and Andrew Avery and grandchildren Oliver, Ruby and Joshua
‘We went to 23 countries and 43 airports and did 52 flights over 160 days,’ said Sylvia.
She fell in love with stunning Iceland and Greenland.
‘Flying into Nuuk in Greenland was wonderful because we flew over the fjord and flew past glaciers – that was just beautiful,’ said Mrs Foster.
Another unforgettable moment came at Auckland airport in New Zealand.
‘There was a big plane waiting and the air traffic controller said “can you just let the little guy go first?”
‘This big Airbus had to wait for us.’
Californian seaside resort Santa Monica, the Grand Canyon and Washington DC also rate highly in their special memories.
During their 160-day voyage circling the globe they took this photo of the idyllic Maldives
The couple landed in Sylvia’s native Norwich on July 2 for 10 days.
They had a fabulous time catching up with Mrs Foster’s sons George and Andrew Avery and grandchildren Oliver, Ruby and Joshua.
‘We flew into Norwich from the island of Elba. Then from Norwich we went to nearby Seething to do a service on the aeroplane.’
‘From Seething we went to Wick in the north of Scotland and waited for the weather to improve to go to the Icelandic capital Reykjavik.’
The couple’s globetrotting extravaganza didn’t go totally smoothly as they hit trouble deep in the Central Pacific.
‘We got held up in Kiribati because we fell foul of bureaucracy.’
She said they got held up for six days and had to pay 10,000 Australian dollars.
‘Another time, we were in the Seychelles and almost home. We checked out of the hotel to fly to Mozambique – but got a message saying there’s no fuel there. The next day we had to go to Madagascar instead.’
They brought the curtain down on their journey for the ages on November 6 as they touched down at Port Alfred.
‘It was so lovely to get back home. We had lots of friends trying to find out when we were going to land.
‘There was quite a crowd waiting for us, we’ll never forget it.’