The dream of a Guinness World Record for longest continuous expedition by powered paraglider is over for Peachland’s Mark Jennings-Bates.
On Feb. 8, Jennings-Bates and Vernon’s Glenn Derouin began their record attempt, setting off from Townsville, Australia.
The goal was to fly over 12,000 km around Australia.
From the beginning, the pair ran into poor weather conditions, which caused delays and frustration. But this past week, the flying duo experienced their biggest setback yet.
In Queensland, a bad launch resulted in a broken propeller for Jennings-Bates. The team had to arrange to have some spares flown out from the UK.
“We all knew it was going to take precious time to get the props here. We had two choices: Wait a few weeks so that we could carry on as a team, or continue giving Glenn and the team the best chance of success,” said Jennings-Bates.
Rather than waste time, Jennings-Bates agreed to bow out of the attempt and help Derouin accomplish the team’s goal.
“I am gutted. It was probably the most difficult decision I have made in my life after all the effort I have put into this.
“But, at the end of the day, the whole project is to raise awareness and funds for charity, so the show must go on. It’s not about me personally getting a world record.”
The purpose of the record attempt—which Jennings-Bates and Derouin have dubbed Flight4Life—is to raise money for the Rally4Life Foundation: A charitable organization based in Canada that provides safe water solutions for remote communities as well as funding for schools and orphanages.
Despite Jennings-Bates humble decision, the team didn’t get any better luck as the week went on.
The team flew into flooding that has forced 13,000 Aussies to evacuate their homes. The Australian government has declared parts of New South Wales a disaster zone and said the floods are the worst in almost 160 years. This has caused the team to make very little progress.
The Flight4Life team has no way to go south—all possible roads that include flyable airspace above them are closed due to floods.
With the threat of more bad weather on the way, the team decided to turn around. They will backtrack approximately 170 km northwest to Nyngan.
“The adventure continues,” said Jennings-Bates.
“We are not sure how Guinness will treat the backtracking segment, but as far as I can tell in the criteria, it is not restricted since it forms part of a continuous journey and the weather has left us no choice.”