NBAA Convention News

MacQueens Complete HondaJet World Tour at NBAA 2017

 - October 11, 2017, 1:03 PM
Honda Aircraft founding president and CEO Michimasa Fujino, left, helps hoteliers Kim, center, and Julian MacQueen celebrate the completion of their “Around the World in 80 Stays” tour. The couple circumnavigated the globe in their new HondaJet. PHOTO: DAVID McINTOSH

Julian and Kim MacQueen have officially touched down at NBAA 2017, ending their HondaJet (Booth C11634) “Around the World in 80 Stays” flight. After Julian MacQueen took off from AirVenture and picked up Kim MacQueen in Pensacola, the couple headed to HondaJet’s Greensboro, North Carolina facility, where they the headed out with Travis Holland of Shepherd Aero in August.

Two months and 28,000 nm later, the trio visited approximately 30 countries and set several speed records on specific legs. The trip not only showcased the HondaJet’s capabilities but also inspired the MacQueens in their approach to their business.

The MacQueens and Holland speed records included: Keflavik, Iceland to Shannon, Ireland, 2 hours 22 minutes; Shannon, Ireland to Lisbon, Portugal, 2 hours 32 minutes; and Amman, Jordan, to Dubai, 3 hours 32 minutes.

However, one of the most technical and difficult parts of this trip was the landing at Paro Airport in Bhutan. Since it is dubbed the world’s most dangerous airport, one of the country’s aviation agencies sent out Drukair pilot Kinga Tshering to meet the MacQueens in Kathmandu to pilot the aircraft into Bhutan.

Julian told AIN, “We came in the mid-thirties [30,000 feet] and then dropped down below the cloud deck, putting us below the mountains since they were up to 29,000 feet. There are no approaches to that airport. It’s all visual so you need to know which valley takes you to the airport. One of my greatest fears as a seaplane pilot is flying into a blind canyon. I know I would have made the wrong decision once we got down below had Kinga not been there.”

However, this trip was not completely about the HondaJet. The name “Around the World in 80 Stays” is a reference to the MacQueens’ hotel business, Innisfree Hotels. While on this trip, the couple looked at hotel culture around the world for inspiration. The MacQueens told AIN that they were deeply impressed with landscaping techniques in Bali, food inventions from Dubai and interior designs from various hotels. While writing blogs about their trip, Kim MacQueen found the most memorable moments included the deep connections they made with complete strangers.

“In Casablanca, Julian and I met a taxi driver named Idris who was a Berber tribesman,” Kim told AIN. “We had an instant connection with him. He asked if we wanted to listen to some music and we assumed he’d play us something local, but he played Hotel California. The three of us sang at the top of our lungs down the streets of Casablanca. He was with us all day and we wept when we had to leave him. Sincere connections like that happened almost everywhere we went.”

Now that the trip is complete, the MacQueens will use the HondaJet for personal and business endeavors. Julian MacQueen dubbed the HondaJet as the “balance machine” because it will allow him to meet with clients for lunch and get home for dinner with his family in the same day. While they have not started planning another world tour, there’s no doubt the MacQueens will continue to travel around the world.