By DJ Doran
Since I first announced PrideFlight2018 in October, and basked in the glow of finally getting it out there in the public domain, the enormity of the project has seemed overwhelming at times. It is not that I am not up to the task, nor am I deterred by the challenge, I just came to realize two years would be upon me in the proverbial blink of an eye.
As with any project of this size and scope, the biggest challenge has been raising the necessary funds needed for each of the different pieces of the mission – we are not talking about a few thousand dollars here, but rather almost a million dollars!
First there is the purchase of the plane itself, then the overhauling of the engines, systems, avionics, interior and décor. Then there is the training, equipment, spare parts, fuel, support team, insurance and a million other details and costs associated with a 7-12 month global mission.
Anyone who is not thought of as crazy would be crushed by the sheer weight of the mission planning alone for PrideFlight2018, not to mention being able to endure the physical challenge of flying the plane itself for long hours over wide swaths of ocean, mountainous terrain and hostile countries! As a pilot, these are challenges to be met and overcome and I am determined to overcome these obstacles and succeed.
I must admit, however, I was surprised to discover the purchase of the plane will most likely be the easiest part of this whole process, even if I am able to raise the necessary funds. Of course, there is always the hope I will win Powerball and self-fund PrideFlight2018, but that’s a long shot. So I have been focusing on ways to raise the capital needed.
Ideally, we need to be completely funded before we take off, so I created a sponsorship plan that allows bigger corporations to support PrideFlight2018, getting worldwide attention and exposure. In return, we get the funding we need to complete the mission – a win-win for everyone!
Over the last few weeks, I have been working on creating the flight plan. This is one of the most important pieces of the overall mission puzzle, because of the altitude, speed and range limitations of the DC3. Flying across the U.S. is the easiest part of the flight because fuel, parts, support and other necessary resources are readily available, but once we cross over into the great white north (Canada) and land at Goose Bay, we’re pretty much on our own.
I have been working with LGBTQ organizations and groups in New Orleans, Key West and New York as possible stopping points once we depart Indianapolis. We will only be stopping in three to four locations in the United States before we head north across the American border into Canada, and I want them to be where there is the greatest concentration of LGBTQ people. We are planning for stops in San Francisco, Palm Springs and Las Vegas on the final legs of our flight before landing back in Indianapolis.
It is important to me and the PrideFlight2018 mission that we reach and engage as many people in the global LGBTQ community as possible. This mission is about spreading goodwill and promoting what we can do as individuals to make a difference if we set our minds to it. I believe that is a message everyone can relate to.
At the launch of this project and during a Q&A someone asked me if I was scared. The simple answer is, “Hell yes!” I am scared out of my wits, and for a multitude of reasons, including that this is something I have never done before.
The DC3 is not a luxurious jet by any stretch of the imagination, and the bone-jarring vibrations of the radial engines are second only to the deafening noise. The plane is not pressurized, so our altitudes are limited to 10,000 feet or below, and there is a minimal heating system so we will have to dress for the lower temps at those higher altitudes.
If that isn’t enough to scare the daylights out of anyone, then the fact that we will have to fly almost 700 nautical miles across the frigid North Atlantic from Happy Valley airport in Goose Bay to Nukk airfield in Narsasuack, Greenland, and then another 800 nautical miles from there across more ocean to land in Reykjavik, Iceland, before alighting in Glasgow, Scotland, and then mainland Europe. Then there is the whole part of the flight plan that has us flying across the gay-friendly Middle East before crossing the Arabian Sea to even friendlier India and Myanmar before finally reaching welcoming Thailand – and that is just the first half of the mission!
But being afraid has never stopped me before, and it won’t stop me now. I know the odds are slim that I will be able to pull everything together in order to complete the PrideFlight2018 mission, but I have a history of beating the odds.
To support PrideFlight2018, go to our Fundable page: www.fundable.com/prideflight2018.