Everyone dreams of having a grand adventure in life. However, Robert [Bob] Gannon has had many adventures since he learned how to fly in 1992. That same year, he bought a Cherokee 6 airplane [Lucky Lady] after getting a pilot’s instrument license, and flew to Paris, France for a Harvard Business class reunion. He had 165 hours in his log book. He traveled for 4 months through Europe and Africa, but crashed in Nairobi, Kenya, when he was attempting to land. The plane was totaled, but he walked away unharmed. He had flown 295 hours and half way around the world.
He spent the next eight years talking about finishing the trip until September 2000, right before his 50th birthday, he decided the time was right to fulfill the dream. He bought a Cessna 182 and named her Lucky Lady Too. She proved to be lucky, indeed, and he spent the next ten years flying around the world.
Gannon would fly around for one or two months, leave LLT in whatever country he was in and then fly back to the United States. He did this not only to take care of business, and to plan the next part of his trip, but also for back surgery as he developed Sciatica from sitting in one position for so long. Fortunately, Gannon is independently wealthy. He made his money by working for himself. He started and owned a construction company. He is a member of the Chicago Board of Trade [commodity exchange], and a Name of Lloyds of London insurance exchange in England. Finally, he is also a partner in a small manufacturing business in San Diego, California.
Since1992, he has flown to 155 countries. He has flown east and west in both the northern and southern hemispheres, including Antarctica and the North Pole. It took him almost 20 years, but by January 2011, he documented that he had flown 14 times around the world.
Along the way, he had numerous adventures. The Middle East was of particular interest to him. Gannon said that of all the areas he flew to, he found the Middle East to be the safest one. The exception was Iraq. He flew there on a humanitarian/medical mission to deliver toys and supplies to a children’s hospital in Basra. He saved Israel as the last part of his Middle Eastern swing, so as to avoid passport problems with Arab countries.
To get permission to fly his plane from Cyprus into Israel, Gannon had to do an extensive interview by phone. After, he had to go online to a website and answer many detailed and personal questions. Then, he had to do another interview by phone, and file a flight plan. He wanted to fly into northern Israel, but ended up flying from Cyprus to Tel Aviv. While in the air, he was contacted by air, and asked more specific questions that only he would know the answers to. After a wonderful week in Israel, before he was allowed to leave, he went through an even more intensive interview. They had researched him and knew all his history. Gannon said that Israel proved to be the most difficult place he had ever flown into or out of.
However, he had a good time there. He rented a car and drove around for a week. As a global citizen, and someone who is interested in studying religions and major belief systems in the world, he found Jerusalem to be the most interesting place. He visited the Kotel, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Golden Mosque. Finally, having grown up on a farm in the Midwest, he mused that “one would be hard pressed to find a Jewish farmer in the US, yet in Israel, through inventive and creative ways, they turned sand into productive soil”.
After he left Israel, Gannon went for a second time back to Jordan. The Royal Jordanian Falcons, a flying acrobatic team wanted him to lead them in formation. They had heard about his medical mission into Basra, and extended an invitation. The irony is this is one of the many things the Israelis knew about Gannon when they did the final and most extensive interview with him.