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He’d Fly Around the World, Landing Only on Water

May 21, 1990

SEATTLE (AP) _ A seaplane enthusiast took off Sunday in ″perfect weather″ - a rain shower - in his second attempt to be the first to fly around the world landing only on water.

Leaving a dock on Lake Washington, pilot Tom Casey nearly damaged a pontoon because of a fouled rudder line that caused the one-engine plane to turn toward the shore.

Casey killed the engine quickly, and the plane gently bumped into the rocks. After a moment to free the line, he restarted the engine and was airborne shortly before 11 a.m. PDT.

Moments earlier, the former Seattle ski equipment and clothing manufacturer shrugged off the intermittent rain.

″Oh, this is perfect weather,″ Casey said.

Casey, 53, of Everett, said he had sunk everything he owns and has borrowed $40,000 more to make the attempt. He estimated total costs at more than $500,000, and has lined up sponsors to provide money and materials.

Casey’s Cessna U206-G Stationaire II, painted red, white and blue and dubbed ″Liberty II,″ was modified with tougher floats and a more powerful engine and propeller.

″The security is my biggest concern. I’m not leaving this plane alone, I’ll tell you that,″ he said. ″I’ll sleep in it if I have to.″

His circumnavigation attempt on a west-to-east route last year ended about halfway when Liberty I overturned in a windstorm while parked in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Casey said he expected to fly an average of six or seven hours a day and about half the distance alone.

The rest he plans to fly with observers, including a government-supplied navigator required for all flights that are not on commercial air routes over the Soviet Union.

He expects to make 80 takeoffs and landings on oceans, lakes and rivers on a route to Anchorage, Alaska, across the Soviet Union through Moscow and Leningrad, over Scandinavia to London, north to Iceland and Greenland, south again to Maine and then through the South and Midwest.

His return is set for a day before the opening of the Goodwill Games in Seattle on July 21.

The toughest part is the 12-stop, 6,000-mile Soviet section, largely because of the uncertainty of obtaining fuel and any needed parts or service in remote areas, he said.

If more miles are needed to make the 24,860 required for certification as an around-the-world flight, Casey said he might add a segment or two through Mexico.

The distance minimum, the length a flight would take along the Tropic of Cancer, is set by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the official world air record sanctioning body.

Casey said he had spent two years planning the trip but had been toying with the idea for a decade.

His inspiration, he said, was the first round-the-world flight by two Douglas World Cruisers, also originating and ending in Seattle, in 1924.

Casey dismissed the notion that around-the-world flights to set various records were becoming passe.

″I’ll be indirectly blazing a trail,″ Casey said.

″If I can do it in a float plane, anybody can do it anywhere,″ he said. ″What aircraft can people relate to more than this aircraft? Anybody can fly this plane. You can go right down and rent one, just take off.″

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