Local man sets record with solo flight to India

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB)- Ravi Bansal took off from Buffalo July 4 on a journey to his rural mountain hometown in India, near the border with Pakistan.

The flight, which took around six weeks, was all in a effort to raise money for an MRI machine; it’s technology the small rotary hospital in his hometown badly needs.

“I raised so far about $160,000 but money is still coming in,” Bansal told News 4.

The machine costs around $750,000.

This cause hits close to home for the Williamsville businessman, who lost his sister-in-law to breast cancer.

Early detection in India he said, is challenge because rural areas don’t have the technology they need.

“Everybody is scared of cancer. But it is not that it cannot be treated, especially if it is early detected.”

The MRI machine will provide the technology needed to save lives.

Bansal, who moved to western New York from India in 1977, flew almost 20,000 miles during this trip.

He made stops in dozens of international cities along the way; logistics, he said, was the biggest challenge.

“Most of this trip, the planning really requires all of your permits, it is a lot of documentation,” he explained.

Bansal was also prepared for anything; flying solo in a plane his size, he said you have to be.

“In a plane which has a single engine, you are flying over thousands and thousands of miles over water.”

Prior to takeoff, Bansal went through any possible landing scenario; a water landing was a possibility.

His successful journey makes him the only Indian to complete this trip solo in a single engine plane.

Bansal, who keeps himself busy playing the drums when he’s not flying, will continue raising money for the hospital until he has enough to buy it’s MRI machine.

He’s hopeful his personal journey sparks awareness and motivation that anyone can make a difference.

“A lot of people ask me, why do you do this? You’ve got to be a little crazy you know. Why do you climb a mountain? Because it’s there.”

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