In March 2017, we were proud to announce our partnership with C150 Global Odyssey, the first Canadian circumnavigation of the globe by helicopter, as their flight suits provider for their amazing journey.
In July 2017, we had the chance to meet the crew when they made a layover in Quebec City at the Complexe Capitale Helicoptere.
Since then, the C150 Global Odyssey crew – Bob Dengler, his son Steven and Rob Dugal MacDuff not only have succeeded in flying 37,000 km in 48 days, but they also documented their adventure in an amazing book filled with memories and photographs from their personal collection.
To get more insight about their adventure, we also asked some questions about C150GO to Steven Dengler.
“Throughout our historic circumnavigation, we were proud to showcase amazing made-in-Canada technology. The Bell 429 helicopter, made in Mirabel, often stole the show. But after a long day of flying, it was our STEPHAN/H flight suits, Made in Québec City, that were our silent team member, turning heads and staring discussions. We are incredibly grateful for the support of STEPHAN/H, and we never hesitate to recommend their products to pilots we meet.” – Steven Dengler
“The C150 Global Odyssey was a truly historic adventure!”, declares Steven Dengler from the get go, and we sure can understand that. After all, not many people can say that they participated in something of that magnitude! When asked what was the most complicated thing to organize when planning the trip, Steven says the trip in itself was the most complicated thing! “You may be familiar with the adage that an iceberg is 10% above water and 90% below. Well it took 547 days of planning to plan the trip, and 48 days to fly it. That’s 92% planning and 8% flying. Pretty close to the iceberg analogy!”, says Steven.
For each country they entered, they needed to get appropriate authorizations and go through straightforward customs requirements. Russia has turned out to be a little different than the other countries. In early 2016 they visited the Russian embassy in Ottawa to meet with the staff and explain their intentions. “They were extremely courteous, professional, and helpful. A number of Russian circumnavigations have come through Canada over the years, and there was a great deal of pre-existing goodwill regarding aviation expeditions”, explains Steven.
During their trip, they visited 92 places in 14 countries, ranging from remote fuel caches in the arctic to world capitals like London, Prague, Warsaw, and Moscow. Steven says that amongst all these places, the most spectacular scenery was in the Canadian arctic.
His favorite city to fly above
“We took turns piloting the helicopter, and for the leg from Riga to St. Petersburg I was fortunate to be flying right seat. Pulkovo airport is south of the city but we requested – and were granted – an overflight of the downtown. The city is located were the Neva River meets the Gulf of Finland, and it is absolutely massive. While I was marvelling at the beauty of the city’s location, layout, and architecture, I happened to glance to the right and see that we were flying right over the Winter Palace. I didn’t have the main mission camera (a Nikon D810) up front since I was flying, so I pulled out my handy iPhone and shot some quick pictures though the photo port. They turned out to be some of the best shots of the trip! But truthfully no pictures could capture the majesty of many of the wonders we saw on the journey.” – Steven Dengler.
Dealing with the weather
Reading through their travel log, weather has been against them a couple times, but thankfully, it never threatened to end the journey prematurely. Steven says: “If you wait, the weather always comes around.” He recalls that they longer they ever had to wait in one spot was Iqaluit, Nunavut. They spent five days there waiting for favourable weather. But as so rightfully stated by Steven: “in the high arctic, you don’t mess around. You’re often travelling between the only two airports in the entire region, and there are literally zero alternate airports. Zero. So you don’t start a flight unless you know for certain you can finish it safely.” Being grounded in Iqaluit had its perks though. Not only did they get to explore the region, but they also got to meet some people and make some friends.
Would he do it again?
“Now that I’ve planned a circumnavigation, I could do it again in about a third of the time. I learned what to do, and just as importantly, what not to do. I am strongly considering repeating the trip for the 160th anniversary of Canadian confederation with my two sons.”
Although he really enjoyed doing the Odyssey aboard a helicopter, Steven says if he does a circumnavigation again, he would most likely opt for a fixed winged plane. “I am licensed on both helicopters and fixed wing, so I would choose a fixed wing turboprop aircraft next time. This will give me three to five times the range, which will enable flexibility in route planning – and even open the possibility of an antipodean circumnavigation”, he says.
The C150GO crew chose to fly eastwards, to take advantage of prevailing winds, but that also meant that almost every day they flew, they lost an hour due to the time change. Steven says he would not do the same thing for the next flight. He would travel westward, allowing them to generally gain an hour or more every time they fly, which would greatly benefit their sleeping schedule.
What Steven Dengler has to say about the STEPHAN/H flight suits
“Our STEPHAN/H flight suits were amazing. First off, they made us look like absolute rock stars. In fact at our stop on Canada Day at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, we had a “hero walk” like in those movies where a team has to launch into space to blow up an asteroid. It was awesome.
From our initial announcement at HAI Heli Expo in Dallas to the remotest parts of Siberia, the suit turned heads and generated compliments. People could see at a glance that we were a serious team undertaking something historic. I’m sure the suits helped us in ways we don’t even realize, such as at checkpoints in Russia. The suits were like ambassadors for us wherever we went, ensuring we looked the part: professional, official, proficient.
More importantly, the suits were well designed, comfortable, and practical. We chose the two-piece model, which let us remove the top jacket. Often while flying in the arctic, the sun would heat up the cockpit like a greenhouse, and we’d remove our jackets. But then we’d land and open up the door and get hit with a freezing wind off a glacier, and grab the jackets again. Having that flexibility was fabulous.
The trip lasted 48 days, of which 30 were flying days. I personally wore my flight suit all day every day. It was just that comfortable! Yes, even walking around town on days off, I’d be wearing the suit. It was a sure-fire way to start conversations! People would ask about what we were doing, and I’d point to the various patches on the suit that would tell the story. We are a Canada 150 event, I’d say, pointing to the Canada 150 logo. I’d explain that we are raising money for Southlake Foundation and True Patriot Love foundation, and point to those patches. Each patch told a part of the story, from the Canadian flag to the Bell Helicopter patch to my high school patch. Our STEPHAN/H flight suits were like an open encyclopedia, telling the story of the trip.”
STEPHAN/H would like to thank C150GO for choosing us as their official flight suits provider and would also like to personally thank Steven Dengler for taking the time to answer our questions and send us some great pictures.
C150 Global Odyssey (“C150GO”) was the first Canadian helicopter circumnavigation of the globe — and the first ever father/son helicopter circumnavigation. They departed on July 1st, 2017, to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary aboard a Bell 429 helicopter. Along the way C150GO was joined by notable Canadians such as Dave Williams, Guy Lafleur, Peter Bregg, HCol Gerald Haddon, and Bronwen Evans.
C150 Global Odyssey Statistics
Aircraft Bell 429 Canadian-Made Helicopter
Crew 3 Canadian Pilots
Departure July 1 (Canada Day) 2017
Duration 30 Flying Days over 48 Calendar Days
Distance 36,956 km · 22,963 mi · 19,955 nm
Routing 92 Stops in 14 Countries