Illinois alumnus makes history with flight around the world

(Photo courtesy of Parkland College Institute of Aviation)

University of Illinois alumnus and former University of Illinois Alumni Association Board member Dr. Bo Zhang is performing China’s first flight around the world in a propeller-driven aircraft.

Dr. Zhang plans to arrive at Willard Airport in Savoy, Ill., at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 17, where the UI Alumni Association will host a welcome reception. There will be press availability at the Flightstar Building. The event will be co-sponsored by the UI Alumni Association and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Alumni Association.

Dr. Zhang will depart from Beijing on Aug. 7 and fly approximately 25,000 miles by way of 11 countries on a route that includes the first-ever flight along the Silk Road—an ancient network of trade routes. He will fly over each line of longitude. The entire trip is expected to take 58 days, with Dr. Zhang making more than 30 stops along the way. The Chinese Embassy is organizing welcome activities in both Washington, D.C., and London.

Dr. Zhang received his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2014, he also became the first student to earn a private pilot certificate from Parkland College in Champaign; he completed the program in 58 days, a record for the University of Illinois Aviation Institute.