Around the World in Twenty Years

Mimi Pollack

Robert Gannon

GROSSMONT COLLEGE — Everyone dreams of having a grand adventure in life. I know I do. However, Robert Gannon has had many adventures since he learned how to fly in 1992. That same year, he bought a Cherokee 6 airplane after getting a pilot’s instrument license, and flew to Paris, France for a Harvard Business class reunion. He had 165 hours in his log book. He traveled for four months through Europe and Africa and ended up crashing in Nairobi, Kenya, when he was attempting to land. The plane was totaled, but he walked away unharmed. He had flown 295 hours and half way around the world.

He spent the next eight years talking about finishing the trip, but never did. Finally, in September 2000, right before his 50th birthday, he decided the time was right to fulfill the dream. He bought a Cessna 182 and named her Lucky Lady Too (LLT). She proved to be lucky, indeed, and he spent the next ten years flying around the world. He started by going west this time, instead of east. He left Oakland, California, in October, and flew to Kona, Hawaii. Three months later, he flew to the Christmas Islands and then on to the French Polynesian islands. He flew to as many countries as he could to explore the South Pacific before returning home.

Gannon would fly around for one or two months, leave LLT in whatever country he was in and then fly back to the United States. He did this not only to take care of business, and to plan the next part of his trip, but also for back surgery as he developed sciatica from sitting in one position for so long.

Gannon’s route

Since 1992, he has flown to 155 countries laying claim to a world aviation record. He has flown east and west in both the northern and southern hemispheres, including Antarctica and the North Pole. It took him almost 20 years, but by 2010, he had officially flown around the world.

Along the way, he had numerous adventures. He confided that he was the oldest bachelor at the Emerald Bachelor and Spinster Ball in the Outback of Australia. He flew up through the Golden Triangle of SW Asia to become the first Viet Nam veteran to fly into VN after the war. In addition, he flew to many countries in the Middle East. He flew on a medical mission into Basra, Iraq, to take medical supplies and toys for the newly constructed Basra Children’s Hospital.

How did he pay for all these trips throughout the years? First, he was one of 14 children from a farm in Iowa, so he is tough and resilient. He never married and has no children. He is independently wealthy and made his money by working for himself. He started and owned a construction company. He is a member of the Chicago Board of Trade and a Name of Lloyds of London insurance exchange in England. He is also a partner in a small wood manufacturing business in San Diego, California. Gannon currently lives in Las Vegas, but plans on returning to San Diego.

This article is just a taste of more to come. Because Gannon has traveled to 155 countries , he has so many stories to tell that this one is just an overview. Another installment will be about his adventures flying to Mexico and Central and South America, a personal interest of mine.

I was fortunate enough to meet Gannon after I read an article in the newspaper and contacted him. Because I am an ESL teacher, and work with adult students from around the world, I asked him to come and give a presentation to my students at Grossmont College. He did in the spring of 2011. His presentation was such a hit with my students that he now has a permanent invitation to return every semester, so more students can partake. In articles I plan to write about him, I hope to present to readers a true American who is also a global citizen. Knowledge is power and the more we can learn about people from other countries through one man’s adventures, the better we will be.

Pollack teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) at Grossmont College