With the completion this week of a mission from Malaysia to Arizona, USA, this lucky (or perhaps unlucky, depending on who you ask) Citation Mustang made it completely around the globe over the past 16 months.
The journey started back in April, 2019 in South Carolina, when this Mustang sold to a new owner and headed for its new home in Kuala Lumpur under the control of the Shepherd Aero team, piloted by our very own company President, Travis Holland. After a flap failure crossing the North Atlantic, there was an unscheduled pitstop made in Paris, at the Citation Service Center, where their expert work resolved the problem over a long lunch break. Later on, radio communication issues near India made for some interesting, creative, on-the-fly thinking: given the remote route taken, the plane flew out of VHF radio range and had to relay messages to air traffic control via the airliners in the area who had HF radio and were able to talk to ATC. As the cherry on top, the last legs of the trip had weather delays circumnavigating one of the largest cyclones, Cyclone Fani, to hit the Indian Ocean region since the 1990s. Alas, this mighty Mustang and crew made it to Malaysia in early May where the new owner excitedly took delivery.
Fast forward to about a year later in the Spring of 2020, this very same Mustang was destined for another new home in the USA. The problem now? The COVID-19 pandemic had kept the plane grounded due to our foreign-to-Malaysia crew’s inability to enter the country due to border closures. It wasn’t until September that we had another airplane, a Phenom 100, that needed to be moved from Singapore to Switzerland, and this airplane was the Mustang’s ticket out of Malaysia. How? We flew the Mustang crew in the Phenom directly to the Mustang in Malaysia, and the crew stayed “airside”, meaning they did not ever officially enter Malaysia, therefore no restrictions. As a double win, we ended up saving our client and crews several days of quarantine and dollars down the drain by using an existing aircraft trip to reposition the crew.
As the Phenom lifted off the runway in Kuala Lumpur, bound for Europe, the Mustang crew started the engines and began–or, continued, rather–the voyage initiated nearly a year and a half earlier. With Arizona, USA the destination this time, and favorable winds from the west, our crew took off from Malaysia in early September to the northeast towards Vietnam and Taiwan… into the path of yet another massive cyclone, this time Typhoon Haishen in the Pacific Ocean. But, after some route changes to avoid the storm, a mostly uneventful trip ensued through the North Pacific, Alaska, and Canada.
This globetrotting Mustang eventually made it safely and still on time to its Southwestern-USA destination. 503 days, 21,000 miles, two typhoons, and a pandemic later.