PORTLAND, Ore. — His mission was to complete the first solo, nonstop, unsupported ocean row from Washington state to Australia -- a feat that would span over 7,000 miles of ocean waters.
Former Air Force fighter pilot Jacob Hendrickson has flown over 140 combat missions in his decade long career. Unhappy with his career trajectory, he decided to do something different with his life.
"I wanted to do it in a way where I could grow more and have more self-reflection," Hendrickson said.
His custom-made 28-foot-long boat was made by Schooner Creek Boat Works on Hayden Island. General manager Pascal Le Guilley says he was caught off guard by the initial request.
"I think the first time when I talked to Jacob, I was like, 'Are you sure about this?'" Le Guilley said.
It took about a year and a half to build the boat, making sure there was enough room to fit everything he needed.
"This one was special because when we think about it, we had one shot to do it right because if something happened in the middle of the ocean, he's not going to get any help,” Le Guilley said. “So, it was probably a little bit more stressful than a regular project, than a regular boat, just knowing that he would be by himself and no way of fixing the boat."
It wasn't an easy trip. Hendrickson thought about quitting multiple times. He said it took a lot longer to reach Hawaii than expected, and at points, thought about just stopping there. Pushing through the monotony of the endless ocean, he finally reached the Australian coast on June 8, 2019.
When he got out of the boat, his legs hadn't touched solid ground in 11 months.
"My legs, I thought they would work better than they did. They're extremely wobbly, so I immediately just fell down. I could barely stand up," Hendrickson said.
Students from Oregon State University helped plan his meals for the entire year.
Hendrickson said his next mission is a trip to space.
Read more about Hendrickson's trip here.