Louis Cole and Juan-Peter Schulze completed a trip around the world all on a 4-seater aircraft. Their journey and everything far and wide is being shared in a feature-length documentary, partly premiering at Buffer Festival 2018.
After 82 days and 22 countries, Louis Cole completed a trip around the world with pilot and friend JP Schulze. Now, they are in the final stages of completing their feature-length documentary about their flight.
Cole met Schulze a few years ago, and he says within minutes of meeting one another, Schulze pitched Cole the idea to one day fly around the world together. Schulze is an experienced pilot with over 1200 hours of flight time in 30 types of aircrafts. He has been flying since the age of 11.
“When I met JP, he talked about it being his childhood dream and he sold me on that idea,” says Cole. “At the time when he said it I thought, wow that’s really ambitious but I’ve always been quite ambitions so I felt excited.”
Schulze’s dream started to take action over the years when they finally decided to bring the idea to life, one step at a time. But before embarking on the journey, one of their largest hurdles was establishing a way to fund the flight and documentary.
“We were talking to a lot of other people who were doing these kind of ambitious projects but to be honest it took a couple of years of dead ends and struggling before we started the crowd funding,” says Cole. “I’ve seen a couple of other online social creators doing their own film projects and managed to get their audience to back those and that’s where the idea came from so instead of trying to get a big brand to sponsor [our project] or get it funded through other avenues, we decided to try out the crowd funding.”
Cole and Schulze surpassed their crowd funding goal and raised a total of 111,563 with the support of 1,666 backers on Kickstart. Following three years of planning and preparation, they finally took off on August 21, 2017.
Among the 22 countries they visited, Cole says Pakistan was his favourite.
“For me it’s usually portrayed in a quite negative light but it was one of the most welcoming places: the people were incredible and it’s not a typical tourist destination. It was amazing to get the opportunity to be there and it was definitely the highlight for me.”
Though the journey was a long awaited adventure, it didn’t come without challenges along the way. Cole isn’t a pilot and the world of circumnavigating is new to him so there was a lot he had to learn with the help of Schulze, he says.
Their biggest obstacle was the final leg from Hawaii to California. At 14 hours long, it was their longest distance but nearly double the time span.
“We had to install a third additional fuel tank on top of the other two we were flying with,” says Cole. “[Schulze] did an incredible job flying over the pacific ocean with no back up places to divert to.”
Cole vlogged everyday of his trip and uploaded a 72 episode series to his YouTube channel. Though it appeared that his audience was with him along the entire adventure, Cole says there was a lot of unseen incidents that occurred but he intentionally reserved for the documentary.
“We’re adding a lot of unseen stuff from the interviews we did on ground but also the drama that happened with the aircraft which we didn’t put in the vlogs because we knew we wanted to put in the documentary,” says Cole. “There were quite a few big things that happened that we didn’t put in the vlogs so there’s a plenty of stuff that we didn’t include that we think will be great when we release [the documentary].”
With a documentary of this kind, Cole says it was not a story they could script perfectly as there were many unforeseen events that came along.
“We had a rough idea of what we’d like to see then pull that together in post,” says Cole. “We now have a full-time editor working on it but it’s been a very different production than what I’m used to in terms of the videos I’m making, it’s been really exciting and I think we’ll have such an engaging and exciting story to show once we’ve got the final cut.”
As for the message he wants to send through the film, Cole says after everything he experienced and everyone he encountered in such a short time, the bigger picture is the celebration of global diversity and finding aspects that connect humanity.
“That story of unity, wrapped up in this big adventure of flying around the world is two strong stories being told side-by-side,” says Cole.
Though the the experience was incredible, Cole is grateful for Schulze’s pursuit along the entire journey.
“None of this would have been able to happen without JP,” says Cole.
Janine Maral is culture writer and content strategist. She enjoys podcasts, Notion, and internet communities.