Archive for January, 2014

The Planning – Longer List

Posted: January 26, 2014 in Adventure

In planning this trip, I want to stay away from Russia and some well known third world countries where graft and attitudes could trip up even the best laid out plans. Therefore, I have not even considered the Aleutian route…. also, the longest leg along the Aleutians seems to be about 2000 miles, which is pretty close to the Hawaii – Van Nuys leg of about 2100 miles, but saves two to three days….. I also want to complete this trip within 30 days, if possible.

Currently I only have a single GNS530W in the plane and will need a second long range navigation device. If I get a second GNS430 installed, I could use the same data card. But that would be going
backwards. Should I just install a GTN750 or GTN650 for the trip and then think about what to do with the avionics after I come back ?

Regarding the extra fuel, going with Turtlepac, if I get the 160 gallon unit, it solves a heck of lot of problems and allows us to fly much longer legs thus avoiding some undesirable countries and
locations. We plan to remove the rear four seats and the extended baggage compartment to reclaim some of the useful load. With my son and I and 280 gals of fuel, we are looking at about 2200 lbs – putting us 15-20% over gross…..with this much load, we will have to find only 6000 ft + runways for the entire trip and being that it will be summer in the Northern hemisphere…. or only
load up with fuel when needed and plan those departures from loooonng runways….

Decisions, decisions, decisions….

The Planning – Long List

Posted: January 26, 2014 in Adventure

Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Easier said than done.  How does one plan for unknown unknowns (borrowed from that genius-Rumsfeld) ….

On a happier note, Star Airborne Data Services ( has graciously agreed to sponsor this flight and have offered to install real time monitoring, texting and satellite phone in the plane.  That takes care of a huge headache…. Thank you Viraf Savak Kapadia and Amir Bhatti…..

To figure out the unknown unknowns, I am trying to reach out to those who have already gone around the world to learn from their experience and wisdom.  A lot of my pilot buddies and acquaintances have been offering a lot of good advice, but I have not as yet talked with someone who has completed the entire trip.  In the process I have exchanged emails with quite a few “in the planning” or “wannabee” phase, and they have very good info as well, but not the real thing….. I need to make some very hard decisions within a week or so….they will have an impact on our trip in June.

Aviation mechanics are an awesome bunch, but they have absolutely no project management or planning skills. ZERO.  The concept of planning ahead is quite difficult for them to grasp.  When they come up to a show stopper (missing gasket or hardware), they stand around scratch their head (or other parts of their anatomy) and then order the missing item-to be shipped overnight, at a greater expense….. not a very good way to proceed…. anyways, the plane has been delayed by at least one week because I have three mechanics involved in several missing pieces….exhaust hardware for turbo normalizer, alternator on back order, hoses not ordered until now…..these items could have been ordered any time in the last two months when EVERYONE knew the engine was being overhauled…..frustrating ? Heck yes !  Just have to bite my tongue…… anyways….on to bigger and better things…..

The Planning – Airplane

Posted: January 19, 2014 in Adventure

The airplane must be prepared for this trip.  There are three parts : Airframe, Engine and Avionics.  We will change the tail number of this plane for this trip, from N20TC to N1078R as the latter was my number when I was at PAF College Sargodha….

Airframe: Just prior to departure, we plan to replace all tires and tubes, new brake pads,  check all lights and bulbs, swap out the single yoke for a dual yoke and check all the control cables etc., to make sure everything is in the best shape possible.  We plan to remove the rear four seats and the rear baggage compartment to reduce load and to add the collapsable fuel tank.

Engine: Since this is a newly overhauled engine, turbo normalizer, (new) alternator and (new) standby alternator, it requires about 150 hours on the engine to work out the bugs, if any.  The operation of the various other pieces, parts and components must also be checked out prior to departure.  We plan to carry one spare vacuum pump, one set of correctly gapped spark plugs and some basic tools with us.  We plan to carry oil and filter for at least the first oil change, for the subsequent oil changes, I plan to ship the oil in advance to the location of choice.

Avionics: Since the plane has original steam gauges, we plan to install either an Auracle 2100 or JPI 930 engine analyzer.  But we also want to retain the old steam gauges for the time being – to be removed upon successful completion of the flight.  This plane is equipped with a Garmin 530W GPS with only the US maps and charts.  I have already started a conversation with Jeppesen, who will provide me with international charts for the GPS.  We are also looking for another unit for redundancy, maybe something like a Garmin 430W to supplement or act as a backup.  At the time of departure, we will have the global positioning (406 MHz) personal locator beacon, satellite phone, HF radio (ICOM 7100), one spare handheld UHF radio and backup charts stored on the Ipad.  We are also planning to install a second (whiskey type) compass for redundancy.  The new engine analyzer will be very important and critical to the safe and successfull completion of this flight.  The fuel totalizer must be tested and calibrated to within 0.1 gallons of accuracy before our departure.  This would require the GAMI Injectors to be properly calibrated and tuned as well.

Enroute Calculations: Upon start of each leg of the flight, we will have to keep a very close eye on our Indicated Air Speed, Ground Speed, wind direction/speed, Fuel Burn, Point of No Return (PNR) and halfway points.  Prior to each departure, we will also have to have our reporting points substantially selected to submit our position reports to the responsible air traffic control authority.  This will be backed up with the InReach tracking system.

The Planning – Survival Gear

Posted: January 19, 2014 in Adventure

The survival gear we carry in the plane must be planned out very carefully.  I have the mindset that WE WILL HAVE TO DITCH.  Therefore, we plan to have insulated wet suits that are a requirement for an Atlantic crossing, life jackets, 4-person raft, survival pack containing (MREs) food and water for five days, shark repellent, InReach real time GPS tracker, compass, PLB (Personal Locator Beacons), battery powered strobe lights, and a Satellite phone.  Apart from this, we will also carry fishing gear to allow us to catch fish, if need be.  We will have to balance out what all we carry because weight and balance will limit us in what we can load up in the plane and carry with us….. I am also in contact with some survival guru’s to seek their opinion and advice on anything else we may need……

The Planning – Useful Load

Posted: January 17, 2014 in Adventure, Flying, Travel

To maximize the fuel we can carry, we must reduce the total load.  So, we have decided to both lose 10-15 lbs of body weight and remove the four rear seats and rear baggage compartment.  We are looking at 100 or 160 gallon collapsable tanks.  With the 160 gallon tank, we get a total of 280 gallons giving us an effective range of 3000 miles with a 1.5 hour reserve and way more options on where to stop and how much fuel to tanker for our next leg.  With this kind of range, we can go from the US to UK non-stop…not that I want to do it.  I have had all of these discussions with my mechanic (A&P and IA).  With this modification, we will have to get a ferry permit for the plane as it is no longer a regular plane.

Now we can start looking at the various flight plans we have been kicking around…..

The Planning – Part 1

Posted: January 16, 2014 in Adventure, Flying, Life, Travel

Before we decide on our route, we need to know how much fuel to carry.  But we can’t decide that until we know the distance of our longest leg.  Well, the longest leg was going to be Hawaii to California, a total of 2100 miles, plus 2 hour reserve in case there was inclement weather at destination.  For that kind of endurance, we would need to at least double fuel capacity from 120 gallons to 240 gallons in our plane.  To carry that much fuel, we have three options, replace the wing tip tanks that currently have 20 gallon capacity to a side and replace them with “dolly parton” tanks with 100 gallons on each side or add metal tanks and plumbing to the cabin or buy the TurtlePacs from Australia, which are collapsable tanks that  could fill up when needed.  Jury is still out on which one we will get and we have a couple of months to decide.

The preliminary flight plan : 24000 miles, 155 hours of flying in 30 days….avg 5.4 hours per day.

The preliminary flight plan : 24000 miles, 155 hours of flying in 30 days….avg 5.4 hours per day.

The route currently seems to be : Indianapolis – Bangor -  Iceland – UK – France – Turkey – Doha – Pakistan – Sri Lanka – Thailand – Phillipines – Australia – Pago Pago – Christmas Island – Hawaii – California – Texas – Indianapolis….. a total of about 24000 miles and 150-175 hours of flying.  This routing will require us to get overfly permits for Greenland, Italy, Greece, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and maybe even Indonesia…. we will also need to pre-arrange for fuel at all of our landing locations.

Route Option 2. It will shave 3500 miles from the trip.

Route Option 2. It will shave 3500 miles from the trip.

Another decision that has to be made early is the length of each leg.  If we opt for longer legs, then we have 17 flying days to complete this trip and lesser stops means not having to deal with some of the less desirable customs and immigration officials in some of the third world countries.  Haris and I need to decide how we want to structure this trip.  I want it to be educational and fun for Haris.

Lots of planning and not much time….

The Seed…

Posted: January 15, 2014 in Adventure, Flying, Life, Travel

Seven years ago I met a pilot in central Texas along with my, then 10 year old, son Haris.  He recounted a tale of flying around the world in his Cessna 210…. thus the seed was sown….waiting for the right plane, with the right engine, at the right time and the right place…. in 2013 I bought a Beechcraft Bonanza, had the engine overhauled by Powermasters, a Bill Cunningham special IO550 and upon his recommendation, replaced or overhauled everything to establish a baseline.  The only thing lacking was a decent engine analyzer….after discussing with a fellow BT’er ( member), Wade Naziri, I called his favorite shop, Cumberland Avionics and discussed my options.  We agreed to pursue installing a JPI 930 as it allows removing 8-9 steam gauges…..small steps towards preparing the Bonanza to allow Haris and I to become first time earthrounders !

The planning for flying around the world started in earnest.  Opened a spreadsheet to record and plan all the minute details.  First things first….Haris is a Junior in high school with about 12 hours of instructor led flight training.  Must get him his Private Pilot and Instrument ratings before we launch on our adventure.  Two young budding instructors took up the challenge and will tag team to get Haris done in sixteen weeks plus one whole week of spring break.  Being in school, Haris can only devote time on Friday afternoons and Sundays to complete his flight training…. and it has to be done in a low wing plane to make his transition to the Bonanza easier…. the paln is to allow Haris to be the Pilot in Command (PIC), while I will be his First Officer and the person whosmackshimonhisheadifhemakesmistakes.  The adventure is ON !  There is a lot to be done and we have only 16 weeks to do it in.


Life Goes On….

Posted: January 15, 2014 in Adventure, Flying, Life, Nostalgia

Three years of fun, frolick and merry making came to an abrupt end, when 35 pre-cadets from 21st entry were suddenly found “medically unfit” due to systolic heart murmur…what a coincidence…. but life goes on…. fast forward many years, school, marriage, move to the United States, more studies, kids, jobs…… I suddenly realized I had almost forgotten my dream….almost 34 years after the birth of the idea…. I decided to learn to fly….. first solo was bittersweet, long cross country and it was time for the check ride.  The day of the exam, I found out that my examiner, Bob Duncan was popularly known as “flunkun” Duncan…..because he liked to flunk people…GREAT !  Had an uneventful checkride with Bob….on to Instrument Training….six months later, I had my instrument rating….. started flying my first plane – N71774, a Cessna Skylane….flew it for over 330 hours….sweet ride.  Switched to a Piper Lance and after 114 hours, the inevitable happened.  Lost an engine and managed to land on a highway….after a mechanic fixed it, was allowed by the FAA to take off again….from the highway…. so engine failure monkey is off my back.  ( Decided that single engines are over rated, so travelled to Arkansas to get my multi engine rating in 2008 and bought my first twin – a beechcraft Baron…what a ride…..

Birth of an Idea….

Posted: January 15, 2014 in Adventure, Flying, Life, Nostalgia, Training

PROLOG: September 5, 1971…..Sargodha Train station…. early morning, Chenab Express train unloading a bunch of very young, aspiring fighter pilots, in the incubation phase…pre-cadets…piled off the train, dumped their luggage into a 3-ton military truck and clamored into waiting blue Air Force buses for the ride to Pakistan Air Force College Sargodha….. a ride of their life time……. to be assigned to their houses or squadrons…. a new beginning … to boldly go where they had not gone before…. a little apprehension, a little fear and a whole lot of excitement at what lay ahead…. yes I wanted to be a pilot ! A fighter pilot ! …but what did that mean….