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'Brave and selfless' pilot flies around world in 80 days

A PILOT has touched down on home soil in Scotland after completing his own remarkable 'around the world in 80 days' trip in a single-engined plane.

Dave McElroy landed his Piper Comanche safely at Scone Airport in his home city of Perth after flying almost 60,000km (37,000 miles) to raise money for Scotland's charity air ambulance (SCAA).

Mr McElroy, who began his journey on May 19 from the airstrip had aimed to raise about £150,000.

His journey took in 52 stops, touching down in 25 countries, including India, Australia, Fiji, Mexico, USA and Canada. The pilot, a former president of the Scottish Aero Club, is the first to stage a global aerial circumnavigation from the east of Scotland.

Friends, family and fellow aviators joined local MSP John Swinney and Perth and Kinross provost Liz Grant in welcoming him back to Scottish soil, while two fellow members of the aero club flew out and accompanied the global traveller along the final few miles.

Gavin Davey, chief executive of the charity air ambulance service based at the airport, said the challenge was "one of the bravest and most selfless undertakings" he had ever witnessed.

He said: "We are always surprised and humbled by the lengths people go to in order to support us, but Dave has undertaken the ultimate challenge and we can't thank him enough," he said.

"Dave has stretched himself and his tiny single engine aircraft to the limits of their endurance."

Graeme Hammond, fellow SAC member and one of the welcoming committee, said that Mr McElroy's undertaking was something many pilots dream of but most find too daunting to ever contemplate. He said: "You have not only to be a very skilled pilot and expert organiser, but also extremely brave.

"As Dave himself said, there are more people who have orbited the earth than have flown a single engine aircraft round the world. We will make sure he gets the hero's welcome back to Scotland that he deserves."

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