Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

We are now at T-12 (T minus 12 days) to launch !

The mechanic who was supposed to balance the prop called and cancelled out.  He apologized profusely, but I told him, no hard feelings and called another shop in Indianapolis and requested that they do it on next Saturday…they agreed.  The aircraft is being weighed today.  In two days, I will have an avionics mechanic install the backup electric Attitude Indicator (replaced the vacuum instrument last week as the bearing had started to sing) and install the HF radio.

The coveralls that were delivered were a little big on both Haris and I.  We therefore requested a replacement and the aviation company did it with a smile and shipped out the right size today with a full refund for the larger sized pair.  The good news for the day was that Mustang has shipped the SOLAS full immersion (gumby) suits.  We should have them by next week.

Last weekend we sorted out all the various “things” we have to take with us on this trip.  There is some stuff we plan to carry in our pockets – either in the coverall pockets or a special vest pocket, there is some stuff that we plan to carry in a water sealed survival bag (we will still seal everything in ziplock bags) and there is a list of items that we will discard as we go along to lessen our load as we travel.

Half of the paperwork for overgross flight condition from Hawaii to California came in.  We should get the new weight and balance by Thursday.  To make the weights and Center of Gravity (CG) work, we have to put some ballast in the front.  I asked if I could put a slightly larger oxygen tank in the front to shift the CG forward.  Seems doable so long as we have a good way anchor it.  This offers us a dual advantage, on the one hand it moves the CG forward so we can place more fuel weight in the back and on the other hand it gives us the option to fly a lot higher and take advantage of the tail winds….

Next week we still have to replace tires/tubes/brake pads, install the new locks and take a look at any other minor stuff.  Next Friday I plan to do a final oil change before our departure.  Eddie Gould of GASE is trying to get our logistics worked out for oil changes while we are enroute…..first one at Biggin Hill-London, second one in Karachi-Pakistan, third one in Darwin-Australia and the fourth one in Hawaii…..

Looks like things are coming together….irrespective of who all cancel out on us…..the count down is ON….

 

Planning – Return to Base

Posted: May 25, 2014 in Adventure

I had requested my A&P to replace the single yoke with a dual, replace the old locks with new ones, change the fuel injectors that were running too rich, replace the tires/tubes and brake pads and have the plane ready for a 2:00 PM departure.  When I got to the airport he had just started on the yoke replacement at 1:00 PM.  Anways, I told him to complete the yoke replacement, replace the two injectors and give me the plane back.  At about 2:30 PM, I departed the airport.  The engine was not making enough power, the climb to 5000 was sluggish and manifold pressure was falling and the fuel flow was low.  With falling manifold pressure, it was evident that the turbo normalizer was not working as it should have.  Took me about five seconds of diagnostic work to request a return to base.  Once on the ground, I asked the mechanic to review what he had done.  He apparently had improperly installed the upper pressure tube on the fuel injector feed or it was lose.  Once tightened up, I told him to wait for 15 minutes after my departure before he himself departs.  This time the plane maintained manifold pressure to 7000 feet and I was able to come home.  Now I need to find a timeslot to get the leftover work completed with my mechanic….never a dull moment !

Planning – Significant Glitch

Posted: May 23, 2014 in Adventure

Today the plane came back from the shop that was supposed to install the long range ferry tank and HF radio.  After the plane departed their shop, they informed me that they did not get a chance to install the HF radio.  I informed them that they had wasted my time and money as I can not enter oceanic airspace without an HF radio.  I am not really sure how to explain the impact of their action to them….. anyways…..I asked them to write down the procedure for installing the HF radio and send it to me.  I will find an avionics mechanic to figure it out and install it.

The mechanics in all countries of the world have the same mind set….the less I say the better it would be…. do I sound pissed off…. this does not even begin to describe how pissed off I am….

The plane showed up with a couple of new problems.  The left main fuel tank gauge is no longer working.  I am not sure what they did to it.  If you tap the fuel gauge the #5 exhaust gas temperature jumps sky high….something is definitely lose in the panel where the mechanics replaced a gauge….

 

Never a dull moment….I tried to explain to all the mechanics involved in this saga that I have a hard departure date….but did it register on them…. frickin NO !  I will get this fixed inspite of these mechanics….

With all the planning and heartburn at the hands of various aviation and survival related people, I now feel I am at the IAF – as it is called in instrument flying….the initial approach fix.  Time to start planning the count down to our departure.  The big stuff has mostly been addressed and taken care of, but the final fine tuning is still required….Being in aviation, I am very big on check lists.  So, I have started putting together a departure checklist, which is a combination of three checklists that slightly overlap each other as far as their timeline is considered.

The first checklist takes us from 5/22 to 5/28.  The second one takes us from 5/28 to 6/6 and the third one takes us from 6/6 to 6/9 – the date we depart the US.  Believe it or not, we are putting together a schedule/timeline that shows the dependencies and durations of each task culminating in our departure.  Here are the salient features:

May 22 :

  • Plane arrives from New Jersey after being outfitted with the large capacity tank, HF radio and the required paperwork.
  • Plane is promptly turned over to our A&P in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Remove aircraft registration, airworthiness certification, Radio License, fuel system 337 and form 8110.  Scan, store on Cloud, dropbox, thumb drive, iPhone and email to Anderson Aviation, Honolulu for record keeping and confirming inspection/over gross permit on our return flight from Hawaii to California.  Email all the documents requested by Eddie Gould/Ahmed/GASE, our handlers/flight planners/miestros extra ordinaire to help with our flight planning.

5/23 :

  • Our A&P replaces: Tires, Tubes, brake pads, swaps out single yoke for dual control yoke, replaces the flimsy Beechcraft locks and installs the new sturdy locks.
  • Depart for Indianapolis
  • Test the HF radio – make calls to make sure it works.

5/24 :

  • Depart for Chicago -
  • Haris delivers a plane in Alabama and logs in another 6+ hours of instrument time (last week he along with his instructor delivered a plane in North Dakota and clocked 9 hours of instrument time)

5/25 :

  • Return to Indianapolis from Chicago

5/26 :

  • Pack our bags for the trip – we have a total allowance of 40 pounds for our stuff for this trip.  This requires weighing everything, including tooth brush, tooth paste, shaving stuff, deodorant etc. etc.
  • Pack the survival bag wit
    supplies
  • Practice ditching and egress and discuss roles and responsibilities during an emergency
  • Finalize 2-pilot CRM manual
  • Finalize my will, power of attorney and living will.  Transfer control of all bank/accounts to my better half.

5/27 :

  • Return to Alabama
  • A&P to do Prop balancing at 2300 RPM – our planned configuration

5/28 :

  • Take plane to Pell City and get backup AI installed, fuel totalizer interfaced with GPS and swing compass, install a second compass
  • Decide what to do about Mustang full immersion suit situation – if Mustang does not have their act together, we cancel the order and order the suits from Imperial.

5/29 :

  • Bring plane back from Pell City

5/30 :

  • Travel to Indianapolis

5/31 :

  • Practice emergency procedures with Haris
  • Haris takes his Instrument written
  • Plot flight plan and develop reporting points while crossing the Atlantic for reporting to the appropriate oceanic reporting authority

6/1 :

  • Travel back to Alabama

6/2 -6/4 :

  • Allow Star Navigation to install their tracking system
  • Review everything to see if anything is missing or details not covered
  • Make copies of all the documents
  • A&P Mechanic inspects EVERYTHING – AGAIN.

6/5 :

  • Fly plane to Indianapolis
  • Change the oil for the trip
  • Start studying weather charts for first three segments – to Goose Bay to Reykjavik to London
  • This will continue on during the entire flight – always start tracking weather for three days out in the segments we fly to see the weather movements and check forecasts.

6/6 :

  • Maybe rest and relax
  • Download Garmin flite chart and nag data for single download for the Atlantic region
  • Update all electronic databases
  • Install iPad Air, iPad Mini and Garmin 796 in the plane
  • Move the plane to Greenwood airport for the June 7 party and to prepare for departure.

6/7 :

  • Party

6/8 :

  • Depart for Trenton Robbinsville, New Jersey

6/9 :

  • Air Mod installs the final fuel components, fuels up – ready to launch
  • File eApis with Department of Homeland Security for departing the US
  • File ICAO instrument flight plan
  • Launch for Goose Bay, Canada

Here is our initial flight plan:

Screenshot 2014-05-21 19.24.10

 

Planning – Some good some bad

Posted: May 21, 2014 in Adventure

Finally got the FAA authorization for over gross operation from Hawaii to California on our second last leg of this trip.  This was critical to our successful completion of the whole trip.   But the route must be modified yet one more time to make sure all fuel systems are operational before we launch.  We will now have to travel to New Jersey a day before departure to allow them to complete the fuel system modification.  So, we will fly there on June 8 so they can get it done first thing on Monday, June 9.  If we are allowed to go direct to Goose Bay, we will not lose any time on our total flight plan.

The saga with the full immersion suit continues.  The company called Mustang makes one of the best immersion suits, but they are so laid back and relaxed about completing their orders that it is indeed surprising to see how they can even continue in business.  They are having difficulty shipping two immersion suits in 4 weeks after they received the order.  After careful consideration, we have decided that if the suits are not delivered by May 28, we will order brand “I” and cancel Mustang……

There are lots of small little things that are still left to do….we will keep chipping away at them to complete all of these items.  But I am confident that by the end of next week, we should be done with all of our planning and we will be ready to launch.

Due to some bureaucratic mumble-jumble, we have had to modify our flight plan.  So, now we have broken one leg into three legs.  Instead of going from Indiana to St Johns and onto to Biggin Hill, we are now going from Indiana to Bangor, Maine and then to Goose Bay, Canada.  From there we fly to Reykjavik, Iceland and then fly to Biggin Hill, near London.  This has forced us to leave earlier than planned, so we are now going to leave on June 9.

Due to shorter legs, now we can carry all of our stuff ourselves instead of mailing a bunch of stuff ahead to England.  Haris can now bring more than 4 underwear….a limit I had imposed on my Pilot in Command (PIC).  We may even be able to bring our oil with us for the first oil change.

Another small glitch was that Mustang had still not shipped our full immersion suits.  So, I called up the company that was supplying it to us.  They have come up with an alternative made by Imperial and they will ship by tomorrow.

Almost all survival gear has been ordered and/or received.  This includes doses of antibiotics and first aid items.

I have asked my “almost-lawyer” daughter to help me draft my will and a general power of attorney, just in case.  This needs to be completed by Friday.

There is a lot of small stuff still nipping at my heels…..I will get it all done by the end of next week.

We have still not ordered our survival shoes/boots.  Haris did not like the ones I showed him, so I have to keep looking….but I am not going to look for too long….he may just have to suck it up and wear whatever ugly shoes I order for him :) .

Planning – The Final Stretch

Posted: May 18, 2014 in Adventure

As the planning enters the final stretch, there are a lot of loose ends.  Having moved the departure date back is not helping matters at all.  We must decide today if we are going to depart on June 9th or June 10th.  My better half is of the opinion that we should launch the earliest that we can safely depart.  Had a talk with Tom Jefferies of Jeff Pilot Services to get his opinion on Haris’s Instrument Checkride.  He is all for early departure and feels he can meet the new deadline.  Tom has been very accommodating and understanding with our shortened schedule.

With our early launch date, there were lots of unfinished items, here is a list :

1. Rescue Lasers (ordered today)

2. Ditching rescue bag (ordered today)

3. Journalists vests (ordered today)

4. Manual Fuel Pump (ordered today)

5. Extra storage cards for Virb and GoPro cameras (ordered today)

6. Dual Yoke Install (Next Week)

7. Defective Attitude Indicator Install (ordered yesterday)

8. Backup Electric Attitude Indicator Install (Next Week)

9. Tires/Tubes/Brake Pad replacement (Next Week)

10. CRM Manual (should be ready by June 7)

11. Full immersion suits (not here yet)

12. Medicines (Got Prescriptions yesterday)

13. Vaccinations (Haris got his done, Mine on 28th)

14. Aircraft Battery Charger (not ordered yet)

15. Tools (ordered yesterday)

16. Minor survival items (signaling mirror etc. not ordered yet)

17. Garmin Databases (Waiting for Garmin to ship-will start bugging them tomorrow)

18. Star Navigation System install (Week after Next)

19. Prepare package to be shipped to UK with our “stuff” (Week after next)

A huge part of the load has been lifted as Eddie Gould of GASE has taken over the flight planning part.  We have also bought  a subscription to Rocket Route who now have a relationship with AcuKwik that provides all sorts of detailed info about airports, FBOs and handlers all over the world.  Over the next week or so, Eddie will be finalizing our route of flight and we will all work very hard to have no or minimal variations to the original plan, for that is where Murphy lives….

The FAA had asked which legs in our trip we will be flying over gross.  In my lack of wisdom, I asked for 7 or 8 legs.  They came back with a lot of concerns.  We really needed the permit for only two legs but since they were asking I thought what the heck, lets ask for the kingdom….Well, that is not how things work.  We have to be more exact in precise in everything we do.  Lesson learned….so now we must file for the two legs Monday morning to get this done by Thursday when our ferry pilot picks up the plane from New Jersey and delivers it to our maintenance shop in Birmingham, Alabama.

On June 7, the local Indianapolis community is giving us a send off bash at the Greenwood Airport.  The local EAA chapter has organized a young eagles flying event, my friend Greg Mahler has agreed to do a fly-by in a 3 plane warbird formation with their smoke canisters on for the event and there is obviously going to be FOOD !  No event is ever good or productive without food….

So, here is the question again….what have we not thought of so far….what have we missed….. we are getting to the bottom of our extensive checklist that we maintain in Excel…..

Planning – Setback

Posted: May 16, 2014 in Adventure

Found out that the Attitude Indicator (AI) is on the fritz.  The bearing is making weird noises and we don’t have time to overhaul, so we will have to replace it.  We are running out of time…..

Time for some drastic decision making.  Talked with an avionics guy today to replace the AI and also install an electric AI.  This will give us two Attitude Indicators, one vacuum based and one will be electric.  This change needs to happen as soon as possible to allow us the time to test the two systems.

Haris has been offered an opportunity to deliver a Cessna Cardinal in North Dakota, about 700 miles from Indy.  His instrument instructor will be with him and they will clock his PIC time and do a lot of instrument work enroute.  Poor guy is working his butt off to get everything done before we launch.  Oh well, he is young and can rough it up….

 

Planning – Missing Items

Posted: May 13, 2014 in Adventure

So what all is missing :

1. Need to replace the three tires, tubes and brake pads

2. Need to replace the single throw over yoke with dual control yoke

3. Check out fuel bladders…..big unknown….

4. Check Aileron Rigging

5. Replace #3 and #4 fuel injectors and test fly and do another GAMI Lean Test to see how engine performs with new injectors

6. Get ISMS Lite – real time monitoring system installed in the plane by Star Navigation

7. Get the Handlers (Eddie Gould) to finalize and start giving me some warm and fuzzies about our flight plan thru 5 continents, over 3 oceans and thru 22 countries…..

8. Raft is still not here – will call them every day until they delver starting tomorrow.

9. SOLAS full immersion suits are due by the end of the month….not a very comforting feeling….

10. Will call Garmin tomorrow to get them to send the GPS data cards

 

What am I missing….

Planning – The Small Stuff

Posted: May 10, 2014 in Adventure

Yesterday my ferry pilot picked up the Bonanza and delivered it to Air Mod in New Jersey to get the Turtle Pac (160 gallon tank) installed along with the plumbing that goes with it.  There was a huge weather system moving in from the West so Robert Miranda, who is Captain in United Airlines with over 11,000 hours, decided to take off around 7:30 AM central time.  The storm on his tail gave him a good push and he cruised at around 200 knots all the way to New Jersey.  I was tracking him and as soon as he came clear of the clouds he cancelled IFR.  The plane dropped from view and gave me a few anxious moments until I picked  him up again on another tracking web site.  The ferry pilot picked up some small issues with the plane that have been relayed to my A&P, who will take care of them as soon as the plane comes back from New Jersey.  The dual yoke parts that were missing have been shipped by Cygnet yesterday and I need to have a discussion with them about the cost of the items they have shipped…..this stuff will be installed in the plane after it comes back from New Jersey.  The last maintenance items include the new door locks for the cabin, replacement of all tires and tubes and also installation of all new brake pads.

One of the ex-PAF pilots, who owns Star Navigation Systems has offered to install a real time flight tracking and management system in our plane. Their chief Techie, Amir Bhatti and their technician will be in Birmingham, Alabama after the 18th to install their system.  This system will do live tracking (that should have been done on Malaysian Airline Flight 370) and will allow us to use a satellite phone and real time texting while flying all over the world.  Now I will have two satellite phones with me on this trip…Haris will not have the time to text while he flies and I watch from the right seat.  Upon our return, Haris will have enough hours to take his Commercial Check ride and maybe even go on and get his instructor rating (CFI) while he is at it.  Then he can give me my Biennial Flight Reviews (BFR) and maybe even Instrument Proficiency Checks (IPCs)……

In the meantime, my survival equipment keeps trickling in.  We have converted our dining table as the area to stage everything we are receiving.  When every last item from my list has been delivered, we will get down to the business of selecting what all to take.  Looking at everything i have so far, I may have over done the survival bit…..there is just too much stuff.  The two important things that have not shown up so far are the repacked Raft from Winslow and the full SOLAS immersion suites from Mustang.  Both of these items should show up towards the end of May….they better show up or we are in a little bind….

Jeppessen delivered the enroute charts.  There is no way that I am going to bring paper charts with me on this trip.  They must weigh about 20 pounds.  I am loading them on a Macbook Air and also on two iPads for backup.  The panel mount GPS already has the enroute direct, but no airways.  For that I will need the iPad and also the charts on Garmin 796.  Minor details with huge impacts.

Our handlers, GASE in Egypt, have been successfully completing the “flight of the Ikarus”, whereby two pilots flew a small LSA type plane from Europe all the way down to South Africa down one coast and back the other.  These guys have successfully made it back to France and in a couple of days, they will have completed their trek….an awesome adventure….Kudos to Eddie Gould for the awesome flight planning and the headaches that go with it….

Eddie has made a few changes to our flight plan and has promised to look at the whole thing in greater detail and will advise as and when he has time to finalize the details of our route of flight.

The FAA examiners and Haris’s instructors have decided to roll his PPL and Instrument training into one and will give him one oral and done practical test.  He has already passed the written for PPL and must now also take the written exam for the instrument rating.  His check ride is now slated for early part of June.  There will be a lot of hectic flying between now and then….and on top of that he has to get a sign off on the Bonanza with a Bonanza experienced instructor so he can fly the plane for this trip.

Now we are getting to the point in our planning where we have to start sweating the small stuff.  I am marking things off my checklist as we go along.  But the process is more like nit picking that must be done to get to the point where I can be comfortable with our planning…..

Here is a picture of our survival gear laid out on the dining table.  The stack in the middle is the “paper charts” that we are NOT taking with us.  I just need to find a lightweight and portable USB DVD drive that works with my Macbook Air so we can load updates along the way.
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