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An Epic journey: Pilot Daryl Ingalsbe is part of world aviation tour

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This submitted photo shows one of the Epic pilots flying over the fjords of Greenland. Photo courtesy of Deb Solsrud2 / 11
This graphic shows the flight path the Epic pilots followed on the Odyssey tour. Courtesy of Deb Solsrud3 / 11
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Daryl Ingalsbe of Spicer pushes his Epic aircraft out of his airplane hangar Oct. 13 at the Willmar Municipal Airport. Ingalsbe is on his way to Oregon for a business meeting.4 / 11
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Daryl Ingalsbe of Spicer steps off his Epic plane Oct. 13 at his hangar at the Willmar Municipal Airport as he prepares for a business trip to Oregon.5 / 11
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Daryl Ingalsbe of Spicer talks about the views he experienced when he flew around the world. Ingalsbe remembers Russia being the most different place he visited.6 / 11
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Daryl Ingalsbe built his Epic air craft in 2009. Ingalsbe flew this aircraft around the world as part of an Epic aircraft tour this summer.7 / 11
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Daryl Ingalsbe of Spicer takes off Oct. 13 at the Willmar Municipal Airport. Ingalsbe is going to Oregon for a business meeting. Ingalsbe says his plane is his "freedom machine."8 / 11
One of the passengers of the Odyssey tour snapped this image of volcanoes in Russia. Photo courtesy of Deb Solsrud9 / 11
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Daryl Ingalsbe of Spicer prepares for a flight to Oregon Oct. 13, at his air hangar at the Willmar Municipal Airport. Ingalsbe has been flying since 1990.10 / 11
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Daryl Ingalsbe of Spicer flies an Epic aircraft he houses at the Willmar Municipal Airport. He built this plane in 2009.11 / 11

When you ask Daryl Ingalsbe why he loves aviation, his response is invariably succinct.

"It's the world's greatest geography lesson. Period," the Spicer resident said through a toothy smile.

Ingalsbe has been flying since 1990, taking in some of the grandest views man can imagine.

He finds most comfort in the skies of the western U.S.

"There's no humidity there," he said. "It's as if you can reach out and literally grab the mountains. It's something."

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His plane of choice is an Epic E1000, a carbon fiber, single-engine turboprop he houses at the Willmar Municipal Airport. A luxury, home-built craft decked out in soft leather with interior lines that seemingly draw inspiration from an Italian sports car, the six-seater jet is a work of art. It stole Ingalsbe's heart the moment the model was unveiled as an experimental craft — a term that applies to an aircraft that is either not fully proven in flight or is a home-built model — at an airshow in Oshkosh, Wis.

He primarily uses the plane for business trips to his native Nebraska and other cities out west and in Florida, where he owns a second residence.

"She's my freedom machine," Ingalsbe said of the plane. "I can get anywhere I want in a matter of hours."

That statement couldn't have been truer this summer, when Ingalsbe and his partner, Deb Solsrud, a businesswoman from New London, joined two dozen other aviation enthusiasts for a 21-day circumnavigation of the globe.

Dubbed the Odyssey, the trip was the first of its kind to incorporate experimental aircraft and was comprised of fellow Epic owners and a documentary film crew. Solsrud said the trip will be recognized by Guinness World Records.

Departing from Oshkosh on July 7, the world tour included stops at 21 cities in nine countries on three continents, covering 16,405 nautical miles and two dozen time zones.

With the exception of a one-day extension in Moscow and a re-route from Adak to Nome, Alaska, due to inclement weather, the trip was flawless, Solsrud said, and participants experienced a destination each day most could only dream of: the fjords of Greenland; the cobblestone streets of Prague — Solsrud's personal highlight; the Iron Age remnants of Camberley, England; and St. Petersburg, the cultural epicenter of Russia.

"It was some experience," Ingalsbe recalled.

"We wanted to offer our owners a unique challenge that would expand their skills, enhance their international experience, and take full advantage of the considerable capabilities of this aircraft," Epic CEO Doug King said in a release."I think we all feel a great sense of accomplishment."

Added Solsrud: "It was the trip of a lifetime. It certainly gives you a renewed perspective on the world and its beauty."

The trip was so successful, Epic is currently in the stages of planning a sequel. Dates have yet to be announced.

Dan Burdett

Dan Burdett is the community content coordinator at the West Central Tribune. He has 13 years experience in print media, to include four years enlisted service in the United States Air Force. He has been an employee of Forum Communications since 2005, joining the company after spending two years as the managing editor of the Redwood Gazette and Livewire in Redwood Falls. Prior to his current position, Dan was the presentation editor at the Tribune.

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