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
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
"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
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
"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."