Archive for February, 2014

Planning-Stuff

Posted: February 26, 2014 in Adventure

With the latest calculations, and the route selection, we can safely fly around the world with a 105 gallon Turtlepac (flexible tank that we can fill up when we need to, otherwise, we fold and stow it out of the way).  The 105 gallon Turtlepac gives us a total of 219 gallons of fuel.  Burning a leisurely 16 gallons an hour gives us a comfortable range of 1600 miles with a three hour reserve.  Our longest leg is 1628 miles from Northern Japan to Adak, Alaska.  A fellow pilot has 4 – 55 gallon barrels of avgas stored at Adak that he has offered to sell to me.  But Adak is not a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) designated port of entry.  I called the CBP office in Anchorage Alaska and was informed that I must submit a written request with all of our details and a one time permission will be granted that will allow us to land, refuel, take off and report to Anchorage or another CBP port of entry in Alaska.  This has turned out to be a lot easier than I had originally thought and it makes our life a whole lot easier as we don’t have to carry an unusually large amount of fuel for that leg.  I will confirm all of my calculations with Bill Compton this week before I place the order for the Turtlepac from Australia.  The company that installs the Turtlepac will also install the HF radio, antenna and my backup electric Attitude Indicator (AI).  By going to one installer, we will minimize our downtime for the plane.

The route planning has started in earnest now.  Haris has objected to me trying to eliminate Brunei, Bali and Oshkosh.  I guess I will have to rework the plan to include those destinations in our plan…… We have now started developing our planning worksheets for each leg of the flight.  We will publish the planning sheets and as we progress thru this flight, we will post the updated sheets as well…..to see how well we planned and executed this plan…..

 

SNAGx-1

 

 

Planning – Avionics

Posted: February 23, 2014 in Adventure

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In talking with some earlier earthrounders and doing some research, we have made a final decision on the avionics package to use for this  trip.  In that, we have ordered a Garmin 796 with a GDL 39D with worldwide database, have ordered the worldwide database for the panel mounted Garmin GNS530W and a further backup with an Ipad Air running Foreflight and Garmin Pilot with synthetic vision.  The Garmin GDL 39D feeds both the Garmin796 and the Ipad.  Additionally, we have decided to add an electric Attitude Indicator (AI) as a back up to the vacuum based installed in the panel and have also replaced the vacuum pump with a new one.  The Garmin 796 also has a digital AI and other gizmos like the Airspeed Indicator (ASI) and Vertical Speed Indicator (VSI).  For documenting our flight, we have decided to go with Garmin Virb Elite and will put one unit on the wing and one in the cockpit.  Since we have already have the ICOM IC-706 HF radio, we need to get an auto tuner and figure out the antenna installation.  This should finalize our avionics package for the trip…..things are coming together, slowly but surely…..now to somehow complete the route planning so we can decide how much fuel to carry……planning, planning, planning and then some more planning…..

Planning – UHF Radio

Posted: February 16, 2014 in Adventure

Spent the entire day yesterday trying to keep track of time for an ebay auction to purchase the ICOM IC-706 UHF radio.  The first time I tried it on ebay, after putting a bid in, I forgot and lost he radio.  This time, I was right on it.  Should be delivered by Friday.  Need to find a good radio installer to install in the plane for the trip.  The antenna will be strung up from the tail to the wingtip to the fuselage to allow good reception.

The UHF radio is required over the oceans where there is no radar coverage.  All planes report their position hourly to let the area controllers know their whereabouts.  The system is not perfect, but seems to work.

Another item off the checklist….

Planning – First Flight

Posted: February 16, 2014 in Adventure

My mechanic had promised to give me the plane on Wednesday afternoon.  I came to his shop on Thursday and there was still a lot to do.  By Noon Friday the plane was buttoned up.  First start of the new engine and we found low fuel flow.  Tried adjusting all day long…..and when fuel got adjusted, the oil pressure gauge started reading zero.  New project…..added another oil pressure gauge to make sure the original oil pressure gauge was at fault….it turned dark….decided to come back bright and early Saturday morning …. got back today, started around 7:30 am….by 10:30 all looked good….did another thorough pre-flight, taxied to the end of Runway 34, announced my departure from Shelby County Airport in Birmingham, Alabama and applied full power (lights, camera, action)…. 70 Kts, light pressure on the yoke and I was airborne….so far so good.

Climbed to 6000 ft and established in cruise….started circling the airport.  Made radio calls to let everyone arriving and departing at Shelby County know that I was circling overhead at 6000.  One hour later, landed and taxied to my mechanics shop.  Opened up the cowling and engine inspection panels.  Inspected to make sure there were no leaks or lose clamps or components.  All looked good.  By 12:30 pm, filed an IFR (Instrument flight rules) flight plan for Sanford, Florida, and took off.  Established in cruise at 7000 ft and found a nice tailwind, giving me a ground speed of 195 Kts…..

The stress from the last two days of flying a plane with an untested/new engine is quite excruciating….gave me a massive headache.  A couple of times I tried to think of a good reason why I had gone from a twin engine to a single engine AGAIN !  The trip was uneventful and two hours later I landed at Sanford International Airport (KSFB) in Orlando, Florida on an 11,000 runway…I landed within the first 1000 feet and then taxied the entire length of the rest of the 10,000 feet to get off the active runway.

I was met in the lounge by my dear friend Nasir Usmani, who is my awesome host in Orlando….and immediately started chatting with his son Omair, where we had left off a year or so ago when I stayed with them the last time….it is fun to talk to Omair…..he is truly a great guy….

 

Planning – Flight Tracking

Posted: February 12, 2014 in Adventure

Flight Tracking

Testing real time flight tracking….

 

Here is the latest status of the Plane… propeller was mounted Friday afternoon and the rest of the parts shown in the foreground have yet to  be installed….photo

…and the pilots are eager to launch as well….

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Planning – Handlers…

Posted: February 8, 2014 in Adventure

After much thinking, discussing with other pilots and my communication with the three contenders, we selected GASE to help us with permits, landing rights, fuel availability and general handling throughout our flight around the globe.  Eddie Gould of GASE has been very easy to communicate with and has been available for advice even before I signed up with GASE…. One more item can be scratched off my list….making progress, slowly but surely….

Here is a link to GASE : http://www.gasupportegypt.com/

 

Planning, Planning, Planning….

Posted: February 6, 2014 in Adventure

This trip is turning out to be a huge exercise in Planning.  Since I do planning for a living, I try to go to the nth degree in trying to plan, forecast risks, develop mitigation plans and then plan some more, then repeat.  The problem comes in when things are beyond my control, like Weather.  At this point I am trying to discover what all I don’t know about this trip.  Just got done reading Eckalbar’s book on flying the Bonanza’s (our steed for this trip).  Currently reading CarolAnn Garrats’ Upon Silver Wings – CarolAnn has gone around the world four times in a single engine Mooney.  I have contacted Forest Ward, who did the Western route thru Africa in his Aerostar and he gave me very valuable tips.  I now have a mentor, Bill Compton, who is helping me immensely in “re-learning” some basic aviation items that I had forgotten or had stopped thinking about due to all the automation we have in the cockpit now a days.  Bill lives in Alaska and will be in Arizona towards the end of February…I plan to meet with him there.  I have talked with Rick Ott, who owns two planes like ours to learn more about the plane and the tips and tricks of flying a turbo normalized big bore engine.  I will be flying one week end with John Collins who is a flight instructor in North Carolina and is an authority on Garmin GPSs to learn what I don’t know about my GPS.

In preparation for this flight, Haris and I are scheduled to attend a “dunking” class in the end of March in Connecticut, which is a sea survival course where the pilots are strapped into a cockpit and a ditching simulation is carried out in  a huge pool.  The pilots are required to free themselves of the aircraft and deploy the raft.  The instructors also teach the pilots some much needed sea survival techniques.

Also in preparation for this flight, I have contacted Scott Dennstaedt, the ultimate authority on aviation weather, to give Haris and I some personalized advanced training in weather forecasting.

One item that is still open is who to hire as our “handlers” to handle our flight plans, landing/overfly permits, fuel availability etc.  Kind of a command and control center for the flight.  I have researched three and will have to make a decision by the end of the week.  I have to make this decision fairly quickly as my flight plan depends on it.  I have been toying with the idea of avoiding Europe completely due to the excessive insurance requirements imposed by the EU and also the amount of money they charge for flying IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) thru Europe – but this decision will have to be made with the handlers.

I have identified or already ordered the needed supplies like : uniforms, survival suits, raft, survival gear(food/water etc), EPIRB, PLBs, HF radio, backup avionics/electronics and much much more.

The focus right now is on what I may be missing…what do I not know (known knowns and unknown unknowns – Donald Rumsfeld – the shock and awe guy)….I am sure there is tons of stuff….but that is what is bothering me….

The Theme – Organic Growth

Posted: February 2, 2014 in Adventure

Living in the United States, September 11, 2001 was a time for serious introspection for me.  Events like those don’t happen overnight.  A lot of things lead up to such  events and to react to those events without a good review of cause and effect did not make logical sense to me.  Looking at the big picture, I came to the conclusion that lack of proper education contributed to the events of that day.  Using education to fix those problems is a slow organic process that could take one or more generations to change attitudes, traditions and to trump the demented dogma that led to that event.  The best way to address such issues is to help the young people open their minds to other ideas, cultures and concepts.  My wife Cookie and I decided that we must do our part and support education in under developed countries to open the minds of the young people to allow them to see what all is out there.

We started supporting various causes for education until several years ago, one of my friends from Indianapolis, Azhar Khan, introduced us to the Seeds of Learning.  This is a group that supports The Citizens Foundation (TCF) that currently runs, operates and manages close to 1000 schools in Pakistan for under privileged children.  TCF has offered hope and a path to achieving the goals and dreams that young people have set for themselves which would not have been achievable otherwise.(http://www.tcfusa.org/)

This is the noblest of all causes.  Haris and I decided to dedicate our efforts of flying around the world to the cause that is being pursued by TCF.  We requested the approval of the founders and the board of directors of TCF to allow us to dedicate our efforts to their worthy cause and they graciously accepted and approved.  We plan to have the TCF logo painted on the plane and will make as many stops at the TCF schools in Pakistan as we can.  We want to be the brand ambassadors of TCF to promote dogma free education all over the world.