Airproof monk Mike Bartlett from Sandy flies back into the record books

Michael Bartlett

Michael Bartlett - Credit: Archant

You’ve heard of the fighting monk Friar Tuck, but have you ever heard of one that flies?

Michael Bartlett

Michael Bartlett - Credit: Archant

Well now you have. Sandy’s Brother Michael Bartlett – who is a member of an Anglican community known as the Brotherhood of the Good Shepherd, and known in Guinness World Record circles as the ‘eccentric globetrotter’ – is about to submit his latest bid to break his own world record for the quickest flight around the globe, landing at approximately opposite (antipodal) points along the way.

Michael, a retired charity worker who’s now 76, is confident he has broken the record having just stepped back on the tarmac after flying from Shanghai to Auckland to Buenos Aires to Frankfurt, then Hong Kong and back to Shanghai in just 57 hours and 17 minutes.

It should break his previous record of 58 hours 44 minutes, which he set in 1995.

The rules of this particular record mean he has to cross the equator and land at points that are approximately 108 degrees apart and roughly on the same north-south longitude.

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Brother Michael has set numerous previous records, including the fastest travelling around the world with a single airline – which he did in 59 hours and 58 minutes with Air New Zealand in 2006 – having the longest continuous plane ticket, the most flights in a day, and the fastest circumnavigation of the globe visiting all six continents – which he completed in 68 hours and five minutes in 1999.

Michael worked as a hospital administrator in South Africa and then for a homeless charity in London before retiring in 2000. He says his single life allows him to afford the flights, as well as the fact he doesn’t drink, smoke or drive a car.

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You might expect him to be plagued by jet lag, but Michael says he is ‘101 per cent fit’.

“Jet lag doesn’t exist”, he says, “as long as you just relax, you don’t drink alcohol or tea or coffee, and you don’t eat aeroplane meals if you’re not hungry.”

He says he frequently passes the time by reading, chatting to passengers and crew and completing Sudoku puzzles.

“I don’t find it boring at all, it’s usually 10 or 12 hours at a time and I just chat to the stewardesses or read,” he said.

Asked if he gets frustrated that he doesn’t get to see much of the countries he passes over, he said: “It’s the same with anything you set yourself to do for a purpose.

“If I was going to see a country for a holiday, I would see the country – as I will when I go to Morocco next week – but if you’re going to break a record you set yourself the task of breaking the record.

“It’s a challenge, and one hopes it’s going to work out – if it doesn’t one tries again.”

Michael’s next big airborne challenge is to win back the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world touching down in all six continents, currently held by Germany’s Michael Quandt in a time of 66 hours and 31 minutes.

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