Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

So, its getting hectic.  The avionics people from Jeppesen sent a final quote for my route of flight.  I need to install, test and prepare the route of flight and reporting points on the iPad maps.  The databases have been paid for and navdata card was updated with the worldwide data last night.  The JeppView application has yet to be installed as I forgot the iPad in the plane…. Oh, well….

This week end the local fox news channel has agreed to do an exclusive story on our flight.  So, we need to get together with them on Sunday morning for a photo shoot and an interview.  Sunday night I have to drop off the plane to get air bags installed in the harness style seat belts in Birmingham.  Another pilot will pick me up and take me to my temporary home airport in Alabama where my car is parked.  Monday night I get the plane back and bring it to my temporary home airport.  Tuesday and Wednesday my mechanic removes the rear 4 seats, carpet, writing table and rear baggage compartment to reduce weight and to make room for the extra fuel tank installation.  Finally got the long range fuel tank installer to give me a slot for installing the turtle pac in the plane.  Need to drop off the plane next Friday in New Jersey, then somehow get to Philly airport to fly to Indy to attend a friends daughter’s graduation from Dental School.  Way to go Sarah….congratulations, young lady !

In talking with the fuel tank installer, his advice is to not do a single hop from Canada to UK right after installing the tank but to slowly test the various load configurations throughout the flight until the flight from Hawaii to California.  He asked me to modify my flight plan and instead of going to St Johns, got to Goose Bay, stay the night and next morning fly to Rekjavik, Iceland and then on to UK.  Fine, we will do that.

We get the plane back on May 18 and on Monday I remove and replace the single yoke to dual control yokes so both pilot and co-pilot can fly….we plan to do the last oil change around June 7 and then stow the plane until the start of the trip…. we still have not started our vaccinations and time seems to be running out…..

The list of survival items is long and has to be carefully reviewed as the weight limitations require us to carry only the essentials.  To that end, so far this is what we have ordered:

Survival

Full immersion suit, EPIRB, PLB, Tether Line, Sea Streamers, Sea Sickness tablets, Winslow 4 person ocean going raft with desalinator kit, medical kit, medicine kit….

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Digital Gizmos

Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone, Satellite modem, Ipad (Air + Mini), Garmin 796, Handheld VHF radio, InReach from Delorme, solar chargers, extra long life batteries, GoPro 3 & Garmin Virb Cameras, Canon EOS camera

 

During flight over vast expanses of water like the Atlantic and the Pacific, we will be wearing the orange Gumby suit while flying and we will be following a survival protocol that we learned while at the Sea Survival and ditching course at the Survival Systems school in Groton, Connecticut.  Likewise, the two type of PLB’s will be on our bodies, to be activated one at a time and each time the battery depletes we will activate the next one.  We plan to be able to broadcast our GPS position continuously for 7 days before the batteries run out.  The rechargeable items like iPads, cameras, Delorme Inreach, Satellite phone will all be charged using our solar chargers.  The InReach unit can broadcast our exact location continuously for 500 minutes, and with the solar chargers, we could extend that time…..this is all theory and I hope we don’t have to apply all of this knowledge in real life….

One of the things that i wanted to have with us was a small sized harpoon gun.  But the survival systems people told me that if I had it with me, to not try to scare away a shark.  Reason being, that the small size of the spear will probably make the shark real mad and things would then escalate with Shark coming out on top….same was the case with the sea dye.  Sounded like a good idea, but the dye attracts sharks….so, no go.

Planning – Enroute Planning

Posted: April 25, 2014 in Adventure

As the route of flight got finalized, we want to find out more about each of our destination airports.  We plan to do a flyby on google earth to get used to seeing what to expect prior to arrival.  We also found out that the airport we selected in UK does not have the kind of gasoline we use in our plane.  We had to fish around and find an airport that had the fuel, but they did not have customs and immigration.  But luckily we found out that UK allows pre submittal and pre clearance for immigration….

So, our final route of flight is :

KHFY (Greenwood, Indiana) – KBGR (Bangor, Maine)

KBGR (Bangor, Maine) – CYYT (St. Johns, Canada)

CYYT (St. Johns, Canada) – EGKT (Oxfordshire, UK) – had to change

EGKT (Oxfordshire, UK) – LTBA (Istanbul, Turkey)

LTBA (Istanbul, Turkey) – HEOC (Cairo, Egypt)

HEOC (Cairo, Egypt) – HESN (Aswan, Egypt)

HESN (Aswan, Egypt) – OMFJ (Fujairah, UAE) – had to change

OMFJ (Fujairah, UAE) – OPKC (Karachi, Pakistan)

OPKC (Karachi, Pakistan) – OPRN (Islamabad)

OPRN (Islamabad) – OPLA (Lahore, Pakistan)

OPLA (Lahore, Pakistan) – VTBD (Don Mueang, Bangkok, Thailand) – had to change

VTBD (Don Mueang, Bangkok, Thailand) – WADD (Bali, Indonesia)

WADD (Bali, Indonesia) – YPDN (Darwin, Australia)

YPDN (Darwin, Australia) – YBBN (Brisbane, Australia)

YBBN (Brisbane, Australia) – NFFN (Nadi, Fiji)

NFFN (Nadi, Fiji) – NSTU (Pago Pago, American Samoa)

NSTU (Pago Pago, American Samoa) – PLCH (Christmas Island, Kiribati)

PLCH (Christmas Island, Kiribati) – PHKO (Kano, Hawaii)

PHKO (Kano, Hawaii) – KMHR (Sacramento Mather, California)

KMHR (Sacramento Mather, California) – KHFY (Greenwood, Indiana)

Planning – Set Back

Posted: April 22, 2014 in Adventure

Minor set back.  In aviation, it is a good idea to shake things out well before a long trip.  With all new components, it is important to work them over to make sure one gets over the infant mortality phase, albeit safely…..

Last week, got ready to depart Birmingham area for a site visit.  Started up the engine, it sounded rough.  Taxied around, still sounded rough, did a complete run up, still rough.  Lined up on the centerline of the runway, full power – still rough.  At rotation speed (just prior to take off), pulled the throttle and aborted take-off as the engine did not “sound” right.  Taxied over to the mechanics hangar and called him on the phone to come out and “listen” to the engine.  As I pulled the throttle, it came out in my hand.  Showed it to my mechanic, who had a few choice words from the A&P’s extensive dictionary of terms.  This was a new throttle cable that had been replaced less than 50 hours ago…..in aviation terms, this is called “INFANT MORTALITY”.  So, this begs the question, what else do I need to shake out and make it fail now instead of failing over the Atlantic or the Pacific.

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Considering this failure in various phases of flight, if the throttle had failed when I was at full power, I would have had to get up to pattern altitude, shut down the engine and glide in.  If it had happened in cruise, I would have had to get to an airport and shut down the engine and glide to a landing.  The worst outcome would have been if it had failed while landing.  In a way this was a good exercise in how to handle an emergency, one that did not happen because the engine did not “sound” right !

The engine did not sound right because upon investigation we found out that the plug in the #3 cylinder had carbon deposit on it.  I could have cleared it up with some aggressive leaning, but I decided to abort the mission rather than take a bird in the air with a known/doubtful issue….. as the saying goes…. there old pilots or there are bold pilots, there are no old-bold pilots….

 

 

On March 31st and April 1st, Haris and I attended a two day aircraft ditching and Sea Survival course hosted by Survival Systems, Inc., in Groton/Mystic, Connecticut.  They have sites in Alabama and Kentucky as well, but those sites are strictly for use by the Military.  It was two days of grueling experiences that taught us how to ditch a plane, how to get out of the air frame, deploy the raft and what all to do to survive.  Interestingly, the instructors brought up things we don’t even think about and when they are brought out, the light bulb really goes on.

One thing we found out was that the water is the warmest in the top 12 inch layer.  Therefore, the best thing to do is to lay flat on one’s back and float to minimize heat loss.  The maximum heat loss occurs from the groin area, therefore, curling up in a ball is also a good idea.  Having a large contractors garbage bag handy to fill with water and then putting oneself inside the bag and wearing it up to the the neck creates a buffer around the body that slows down the onset of hypothermia.

When ditching in a private plane or a commercial plane, NEVER deploy your life vest until you can breathe on your own outside the water.  There are very serious implications of deploying the vest too soon that include death.  Above all, remain calm – panic kills.  If possible practice, practice and practice.

Now we have much better clarity of what all to carry in our survival bags.  We already have a Winslow 4-person ocean raft and canopy with a desalinator kit on its way.  The standard list for us now includes EPIRB, PLBs, 3 weeks of sustenance, green survival lasers, Mustang full immersion survival suits, life vests and a bunch of other stuff.

This course was well worth the time, effort and money.  Having had the experience of losing an engine and having to make an emergency landing, I have a much sharper focus on the importance of preparing for survival than an average person.  Luck favors those that are better prepared……

 

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Planning – Please Donate to TCF

Posted: April 5, 2014 in Adventure

Here is a shameless plug, please donate to the Citizens Foundation (TCF) in our effort to support and hi-light the mission of educating the underprivileged and disenfrenchised youth…..

http://www.razoo.com/story/Flying-Round-The-World-For-Education?referral_code=share

 

Yesterday I flew from Alabama to Indianapolis, picked up Haris and today we flew to Groton, Connecticut.   This is the first long cross country I have flown in this plane, which culminated with a precision approach (ILS 05 @ KGON) at Groton, CT after 4 hours and 20 minutes in the clouds in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) – hard IFR.  All systems performed flawlessly, the new fuel transfer pumps worked as expected and the GPS worked like a charm and automatically engaged the glide slope for a successful landing.  But it was stressful as heck…..  we have two tasks to accomplish on this trip.  Firstly, we are being interviewed by Aaj TV for Citizens Foundation and, Secondly, we are enrolled in a ditching and sea survival course in Groton/Mystic, Connecticut.  This is the same company that provides this kind of training to the US Armed Forces as well.  Should be interesting to see what all we learn on Monday and Tuesday……stay tuned…..

Planning – John Coale

Posted: March 23, 2014 in Adventure

I believe it was in 2006 or 2007 that I heard about Dr John Coale, a circumnavigator, who went solo in a pressurized Cessna 210.  We were in Texas visiting a family friend when I reached out to John Coale and he agreed to meet us at Brenham Airport for Lunch.   Haris, myself and my host and friend Fayyaz Syed flew to Brenham in my Cessna Skylane (C182).  I had a million questions, but due to the short time, I could only get to drink just a little bit from the fire hose and it was time for us to depart.  But John ignited a desire in me to do what he had done in 2004.  He told me about the amount of weight in paper charts and maps he had to carry and also had them delivered enroute where he dumped the old charts and took on new ones.  All of that poundage has now been replaced with charts on an Ipad and Garmin 796 with data from Jeppesen in the Garmin 530 panel mount GPS.  Since I have been planning my trip, I must have stirred and kicked up some dust that John noticed and sent me an email today.  I immediately responded and reminded him that he is the one that inspired me to take this huge step……. Thank you, John…..

Today, I flew with Tom Jefferies of Jeff Air Pilot Services LLC on an Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC) in my Bonanza.  Last week I had flown an IPC with Tom in my Baron.  Tom is an ex Airline/Ferry/trans-continental pilot.  He is supervising Haris’ flight training and is now developing a Crew Resource Management (CRM) training and manual for Haris and I to use during our flight.  He has included some items in that manual that I had not considered before….. its all about learning….. there is soooo much to learn !

Planning – Flight & Maintenance

Posted: March 20, 2014 in Adventure

Just as I was feeling pretty good about having done a good bit of maintenance on the plane, Bill Compton asked me about the time since overhaul on the landing gear struts.  Well, I got them overhauled last week and while my mechanic has the plane, I asked him to also replace the fuel transfer pumps, move the compass back on the glareshield to allow me to place a solar charger there, replace the recline mechanism on the copilot seat, replace non-structural screws some previous owner/mechanic had installed on the right Flap,  which John Collins caught during a pre-flight inspection and a few items Rick Ott caught during his pre-flight of my plane-including a fuel leak on #4 fuel injector.

Last week I flew an Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC) with Tom Jefferies in my Beechcraft Baron.  As we were flying to a close by airport to shoot approaches, this one plane showed up on our scope and being under the hood, Tom was the one keeping an eye out for it.  As we got closer, I heard a chuckle from Tom, who told me “its your son on his cross country”….. we gave some cat-calls to him on a separate frequency we use for just chitter-chatter….. and proceeded on our mission.  This week end I am flying another IPC in the Bonanza with Tom Jefferies.  Tom is an ex-airline/commercial/charter/ferry pilot.  He is putting together a Crew Resource Management (CRM) manual for me and my son to use during our trip.  He is also putting together a training for us to educate us about differences in air traffic control phraseology all over the world.  This is supposed to be standard, but things creep into the system and one needs to learn those nuances before getting there and getting surprised.

The large capacity “dollies” are in the paint shop in Arizona and once they are done, I will have to fly my plane there to get them installed towards the middle/end of April.  In the meantime, I have to drop the plane off with an avionics shop to get a few things done including the installation of the HF radio….

My final route selection is hinging on getting insurance for this trip.  If I don’t get the insurance we want, we may have to take the southern route and avoid Europe altogether.  This would send us to Brazil – Senegal – Tunis – Egypt route instead of Canada – Iceland – England – Italy – Egypt route.  We will find out in a week or two as Alejandro Gellato, my insurance agent works his magic.  There is still a lot of planning to do …. some of it is dependent on other events…..we trudge along….

 

Planning – Training

Posted: March 10, 2014 in Adventure

The day started at 4:00 AM when I got up and got ready to depart Indianapolis for South Carolina to get a real education talking with and then flying with John Collins.  I have been using the Garmin GNS530W for over five years and did not know some features that John showed me.  In pre-flighting the plane, he pointed out several items I need to attend to right away, including a fuel leak at the Number 4 Injector…… then we went flying.  I got more education about how to configure and set up my plane to fly stabilized approaches….About 2:30 I departed Rock Hill Airport in South Carolina for Columbia, South Carolina, some 65 miles away.

As soon as I parked my plane on the ramp at Owens downtown airport in Columbia, South Carolina, I saw Rick Ott walking out to the ramp towards my plane.  After the pleasantries, Rick dove into my plane with both hands and feet.  More education…..he showed me how to pre-flight a turbo normalized plane, what to watch out for and how to look for problem areas.  Then we went to Rick’s hangar and saw how he had set the problematic things up to fix the issues.  Next, we went flying and there again, Rick gave me a real education.  We tried out a few maneuvers, LOP operation and then headed back to the Owen’s downtown airport.  Rick is a truly awesome person….he allowed me to take pictures of issues he had fixed and also exposed me to some things that I am sure will help me for years to come…. Rick also tutored and instructed me in the finer points of take off at Gross Weight and how to be careful and what to watch out for…..Thank you Rick !  I will bug him again in the future to learn more…..

I flew a total of 8 hours today and was it grueling as ever.  Due to the hectic pace, I could not get anything to eat all day.  By the time I landed in Birmingham, Alabama….I was dead beat….but all in all, it was a very successful and satisfying day….I learned a lot and I am sure all of this education will be of significant help when we fly around the world…..