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Meet Robert DeLaurentis of DeLaurentis Foundation in Bankers Hill

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robert DeLaurentis.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Robert. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Flying has been a passion of mine since I was a little boy. I started with paper airplanes and then moved onto making model airplanes when my family moved to Indonesia for my father’s career. As a teen, I built remote control planes. In my 20’s, after graduating from college with a degree in accounting, I joined the Navy and dreamed about flying planes while I was serving overseas on the warship US Leahy CG-16 during the Iraq War.

When my commission was over, I moved back to San Diego, built a real estate and property management business over the next decade and continued my education, getting an advanced degree in Spiritual Psychology. Following a major spiritual awakening, I learned that we all have a life purpose and creative passions that are waiting for us to experience but most of us live in so much fear that we get comfortable just talking about what we love doing instead of doing it. That’s when I signed up for flying lessons and learned how to fly an aircraft myself.

In 2014, I decided I wanted to share what I learned while flying, studying spirituality and operating my business. I asked Spirit to allow me to give back in a way that moved and inspired people. I knew I had many things to learn and people to connect with before this could happen, but clarifying my intention and purpose and staying connected to Spirit led me to an amazing team of people who helped me develop a brand and website (www.flyingthrulife.com), write blogs and books including “Flying Thru Life” and “Zen Pilot,” speak at conferences and aviation events and share the message that you can learn to overcome your fears and go after your impossibly big dreams using your powers of purpose, passion, perseverance and courageous action.

As my confidence as a pilot increased and my real estate business grew, I decided to buy a plane and began flying, first locally and then internationally, which planted the seed of a circumnavigation. In gratitude to Spirit and all the success I experienced living in San Diego. I named my plane “Spirit of San Diego” and in 2015 with the help of 37 sponsors took off for a 26-country three-month around-the-world flight. After several near-death experiences along the trip, and thankfully, a successful return, the City of San Diego recognized our efforts and established a proclamation naming January 24, 2017, “Spirit of San Diego Day.”

Following the success of the first circumnavigation, my team and I wanted to have an even greater impact on what we had learned on the Equatorial Circumnavigation. We realized the plane was a flying billboard for the message of our choice and that we had an opportunity to bring greater awareness to aviation safety, technology and education.

In keeping with the “Live Your Impossibly Big Dream,” mission and new insights I had while on my walks in Balboa Park, I made two big decisions that snowballed into an even bigger impossibly big dream than I could have ever imagined. Following my decision to invest in a more capable plane that I named “Citizen of the World” and starting a nonprofit foundation, the DeLaurentis Foundation, I had a dream about circumnavigating the North and South Poles and interviewing people about what it means to be a Citizen of the World for the World.

Fast forward two years and as you read this, with the help and encouragement of 95 sponsors, so many friends, followers, family, and Spirit, I’ve taken off on a six-month 26-country polar circumnavigation with the mission, “One Planet, One People, One Plane: Peace for Humanity,” connecting the two places on the planet where peace exists–the North Pole and South Pole–and connecting everyone in between on a mission of Global Oneness.

This trip will be the subject of a documentary and carry two scientific experiments from NASA and Scripps Oceanography, allowing us to have a positive impact on climate change and the future of global travel, and most importantly, world peace. I’ll be sharing “Peace Sightings” and interviewing people I meet around the world, asking them to answer the question, “What does being a ‘Citizen of the World for the World’ mean to you?” Please join us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/flyingthrulife) or Instagram (www.instagram.com/flying_thru_life) and let us know your answer and include the hashtag #sdvoyagercitizenoftheworld. I’d love to hear from you.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There have been many struggles along the way. Every major change in my life has been preceded by challenges, some disillusioning (realizing accounting wasn’t for me and quitting one of the biggest accounting firms in the world after working so hard to get there); some disastrous (losing one of my properties with fortunately no casualties, to a fire); and some so frightening I wondered if I would live (my plane engine not just stalling but quitting at 14,000 feet over the ocean 19 miles from landing in Malaysia), and they continue with every step of the trip.

It’s taken a long time to learn this but I call them “Zen Moments” — opportunities to check-in, remember what’s important, focus on my purpose, and then use my powers of passion, perseverance and courageous action to keep going in the direction that is most “enjoyable” for me and the people around me.

A recent major challenge I dealt with was realizing that after two years of planning and a confirmed departure date of November 2018, that my plane “Citizen of the World” was just not ready to do this epic flight that had never been done before in this class of plane. We had to delay take-off three times to make sure the plane met not just minimum safety requirements but maximum safety under the most intense pressures. I was concerned about all the people who were counting on me and struggled to slow everything down. It was a huge disappointment. I had to really work on my mindset and stay connected to Spirit to keep my anger productive, stay positive and compassionate with everyone and everything so we could stay on an inspiring flight path.

As we introduced new engines, propellers, avionics, an environmental system, etc., stressing the plane to its leading edge, things began to break down. During test flights, we had several life-threatening in-flight emergencies but we persevered and were able to fix everything. It hasn’t been easy but we’ve met challenge after challenge, making over 50 modifications to this 1983 aircraft and now “Citizen of the World” will be able to claim the record for the fastest, highest flying turbine commander ever to fly the farthest distances on the planet.

Our mission of “One Planet, One Plane, One People: Peace for Humanity” and having the best people working on the plane and the best equipment have kept me going and helped me manage the fear and the risks we aren’t able to mitigate. With time and care, things started to work together and we knew it was time to begin the next phase of the flight, which is the journey I’m on now. Take-off was December 16, 2019, from Gillespie Field.

Please tell us about your business.
I am an entrepreneur at heart. I currently own three companies Innorev Enterprises, my real estate development company that I started 25 years ago and grew into a property management company with 300 units in the downtown San Diego area; my adventure publishing company, “Flying Thru Life,” created in 2014 to share my passions of business, flying and spirituality; and my newest enterprise, the nonprofit 501(c)(3) DeLaurentis Foundation that we established in 2017 in support of the Pole to Pole Flight and mission to inspire people and organizations to live their impossibly big dreams through the wonder of aviation and the power of courageous action.

I’m grateful for all the success I’ve had with my real estate and publishing companies, and what I’m most proud of is the DeLaurentis Foundation and its commitment to raise and distribute funds for aviation-related charitable causes that support innovation, safety and education in the air and connect people worldwide in Oneness, Peace and Love.

What I love about the DeLaurentis Foundation and is the most fun is that we go out into the world and make things happen, giving our very best, and backed by 95 of the best sponsors and supporters a person and plane could ask for.

What sets me apart from others is that I focus on results through a partnership with Spirit, which drives my choices and efforts. While I tend to shake things up, be persistent and disruptive to get done what I believe is important as efficiently as possible (and in the process sometimes piss off a few (hundred 🙂 people while I play by my rules), I’ve been fortunate to bring on a team of people who keep me in check so that together we can follow where Spirit leads and highlight the power of global diversity and global unity from Pole to Pole to positively transform our world “One Planet, One People, One Plane: Peace for Humanity.”

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Our plans include safely completing this Polar Circumnavigation in the “Citizen of the World” as promised and connecting the 7.7 billion people on the planet on a mission for peace. The documentary we are filming along the way, interviewing people about what it means to be a “Citizen of the World” for the world will show the world that there are more similarities than differences among people, that regardless of our color, religion, socioeconomic class or political affiliation, we all share a common desire for joy, happiness, health, safety and financial security for ourselves and our families.

I plan to return to San Diego in May 2020 and land at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field. Following my return, I’ll be sharing my travels through speaking engagements and writing my next book about this mission titled, “Peace Pilot: To the Ends of the Earth and Beyond.” The DeLaurentis Foundation will take on more significance as we transform the aircraft “Citizen of the World” into a mobile STEM lab for students that I’ll be taking on the road to make educational presentations at museums, schools and other sites.

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