Local man flies around the world for cancer awareness

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Ravi Bansal will be spending his Fourth of July with a view from the top. The Williamsville businessman is taking on a journey that’s expected to last six weeks; he’s flying to India and back in his single engine Cessna.

Bansal took off Tuesday afternoon from Prior Aviation in Buffalo.

The nearly 20,000 mile round-trip journey is not only a personal adventure.

“I want to bring awareness of cancer. I’m my hometown, it’s a rural town in India, not many people have awareness of cancer. There is a hospital which is treating the cancer patients there, they don’t have an MRI machine,” Bansal said.

His trip is raising money to buy one; they cost around $750,000. MRI machines can help detect tumors or signs of cancer, so patients can be begin treatment as soon as possible.

Bansal’s sister-in-law died of breast cancer. By the time she found out, she was already in the second stage of the disease.

His hope, is that an MRI machine could save lives in his childhood community.

“He’s been talking about doing this for years. Ever since he was a little kid. He used to live up on a mountain top in India and he talked about how he would throw paper airplanes off the mountain and watch them fly,” Bansal’s son Nitin told us.

The Williamsville businessman, who moved to Buffalo right after the Blizzard of ’77 to work for Praxair, has been flying for around 40 years.

If he’s successful, he’ll be the first Indian to make this trip solo in a single engine plane.

Bansal will be stopping in several countries to re-fuel, but a large portion of his trip will be over water. He’s prepared for everything, with plenty of emergency supplies in the event of a water landing.

“I spent three months looking at what are the possibilities, where can I get the fuel, how far my plane can go, and where can I get the flight permits.”

His sons admit, they were a little nervous when dad told them his big plans.

“We were pretty apprehensive,” Bansal’s son Rohan said.

But his children are also proud, they said; so were the dozens of supporters who showed up to see Bansal take off.

The pilot is paying for all flight costs out of pocket, so any money he raises via donation goes directly to the hospital in India, or towards an MRI machine.

As of Tuesday, Bansal had raised more than $50,000.

Click here to learn more about his mission, or to donate.

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