Memphis International Airport Notes

August 2011

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Memphis Aviator Greeted Like a Hero Following World Flight

After 69 days and nearly 25,000 miles, local Chinese businessman Wei Chen made a triumphant return home July 29 fulfilling his dream of piloting his own single-engine plane around the world and being the first Chinese-born aviator to join the elite group of Earthrounders (those who have flown themselves around the world in a light aircraft).

His adopted hometown of Memphis celebrated his return with a large gathering of family, friends, dignitaries and fans at Wilson Air Center at Memphis International to see his aircraft touch down and rejoice in his safe return from this great accomplishment. A water arch salute by the Airport’s fire fighting trucks greeted him as he taxied toward the hangar at Wilson Air.

Notable guests at the celebration included Memphis Mayor AC Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell. Also in attendance was Elgen M. Long, best known for being the first person to fly around the world over both poles in 1971, and David W. Jourdan, the founder of Nauticos and member of the Explorer’s Club. The event was spearheaded by Airport Commissioner Jon Thompson.

Chen departed Memphis on May 22 and along the way visited some 40 cities in 29 countries. At each stop he touted Memphis, the city he now calls home. His plane, a Daher-Socata TBM 700, was named The Memphis Wei, adding to the global recognition for the city. Even more significant is that this Memphis aviator and businessman is the first to have been allowed to land a general aviation aircraft at the Beijing Capital International Airport, hopefully opening the way for others in China.

For more about the historic flight click here.



Elgin Long, the first person to fly around the world over both poles in 1971, was on hand to welcome Wei Chen to the elite group of Earthrounders. Airport Commissioner Jon Thompson looks on behind Chen.


Memphis International Airport Authority President Larry Cox congratulates Chen on his amazing accomplishment.


Chen’s Daher-Socata TBM 700 is dwarfed as it lands at MEM, completing its around-the-world journey.


The plane Chen flew for his journey.

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