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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedRounders Plan Three Year RV-7 Trip
By Randy Dufault
 

Liliana Tagliamonte and Detlef Heun stand in front of the RV-7 they built to go around the world. Photo by Randy Dufault

For most Rounders, as those who have crossed every longitude are known, their trip is over in a relatively short period of time.

Not so for Detlef Heun and Lilliana Tagliamonte. Their rounder plan-which also includes touching all the latitudes-is expected to take three years.

The couple, who married in the Bahamas on one of the journey's first legs, started their adventure by ordering an RV-7 kit from Van's Aircraft. 

Airframe construction required a year in Germany. Any fast-build options were intentionally bypassed so Heun and Tagliamonte would know and understand every inch of the aircraft they'd occupy for years.

Once the airframe components were complete they were shipped to Punta Gorda, Florida, for another year of final assembly, engine mounting, and integration of the panel. Dual electronic flight instrument systems, a Garmin 430 GPS/comm, a TruTrak autopilot, an automatic direction finder, and a high-frequency radio round out the complement of electronics.

Specific modifications to the airframe for a world journey included additional fuel tanks and moving the engine 4 inches forward. Extending the nose allowed for additional baggage capacity without violating center-of-gravity limits.

Power comes from a 180-hp Lycoming TSIO-360. Special injectors, an electronic ignition system, and alcohol-safe fuel system components allow the mill to burn standard automotive fuel.

"In Ecuador there are only two airports with avgas," Tagliamonte said, claiming that the auto fuel option saved the day. "We were at one that had no gas at all, and we couldn't fly to another that did, because we didn't have permission."

After succeeding to stage fuel and snow skis for a planned South Pole visit last summer, an eight-week bureaucratic delay in South America caused the couple to miss a narrow weather window.

"Our skis and our fuel are there," Heun said. "[Lilliana] has an Argentine passport, and the Argentine air force wanted to help put the first Argentine woman on the South Pole, so they shipped it for us for free. If you have to pay [for shipping to Antarctica], you have to be a millionaire."

The Antarctic leg will now happen at the end of the trip.

Despite having plenty of fuel, a typical flight leg for the RV is only two hours.

"People always ask what the longest leg over water is," Heun said. "That is not the question. If you land on water you have a good chance to survive…In South America we spent hours and hours over the Amazon jungle. If you crash there you have no chance of survival."

When asked about why they planned a journey that will include enough miles to fly around the earth five times, Tagliamonte said, "We wanted to see something of the world. And in some countries where there is little general aviation, we wanted to show the people that it is possible to have a small airplane.

"After our trip, the trip will be over. I think the most beautiful thing is the people that we met. That will stay forever."

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