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…..
Archive for March, 2014
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 !
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….
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…..
Today being a Friday, time to come home to Indianapolis from my project in Meridian, Mississippi. I decided to surprise Haris, who I knew was going to be flying with his instructor today. I filed my flight plan for Greenwood, Indiana, the airport where Haris is working with my long time friend and Certified Flight Instructore (CFI) Cliff Allen. Since Greenwood is an uncontrolled airport, I started making my radio calls from 15 miles out. As I got into the pattern at Greenwood, I heard Haris’ radio call waiting for the incoming plane to land before he could take off. I called out Haris and asked him how he was doing….he was surprised to find me in the pattern. I landed and he took off with his instructor. They started doing touch and go’s. After about the sixth one, a friend of mine asked if Haris was going to Solo today and I told him that probably not. He said, Haris’s instructor was walking towards his truck and the plane was still moving…… Cliff had signed Haris off for his first Solo without telling me ! Surprise ! Cookie was equally shocked and surprised, but I grabbed my phone to make a video…..Haris has Solo’d…..
The final route selection is again up in the air. The reason is that now we have a very good chance of being able to acquire a pair of “Dolly Parton” tip tanks or as they are affectionately called dollies. My current tip tanks are 20 gallon a side that will be replaced by the dollies that have an authorized capacity of 80 gallons a side, thus giving us a total of 234 gallons allowing us to get about 2400 mile range, and hence the name after “Miss Dolly Parton” who is rather well endowed… pilots are a funny breed. This puts us in range to fly from Hawaii to California without too much trouble….. so, here we go again….On a brighter note, I have found the documentation that will allow me to install the dollies without much hassle from the Feds….
While going thru the list of countries, their visa requirements, landing permits and overfly permits, we found “health requirements”. We need vaccinations and booster shots for Yellow fever, Typhoid and a few other deadly diseases and also we should be on Malaria medication two weeks prior to departure. Along the route, we will also be required to “de-insect” the plane and spray disinfectants in the plane. Interesting….to say the least……but this is all part of planning…..
I have also put together a list of medicines to take with us for stuff like common cold all the way up to serious stomach illnesses…..
Had a long talk with Bill Compton today about the range, speed and calculations required for the entire trip. Bill also pointedly asked about the condition of the tires, struts (when they were overhauled) and the landing gear system (when it was overhauled). I informed Bill that the plan was to change all three tires and tubes about 10 hours before our scheduled departure. He also quizzed me on my LOP (lean of peak) operation and other very technical things, to make sure I was headed in the right direction. Bill will be shipping his ocean going raft, that he will lend to me for this trip, as soon as he gets back to Alaska.
Bill Compton also introduced me to an aspiring earth rounder who had purchased the large capacity “dolly parton” tanks in anticipation of his future round the world trip. This pilot offered to let me use the tanks for free for the trip with the caveat that I would buy them from him now and upon successful completion of the trip, he would buy them back from me for the same amount of money….that is only fair.
I have made contact and have scheduled to fly with John Collins, the avionics instructor/guru on Sunday morning in South Carolina. On Sunday afternoon, I plan to fly with Rick Ott……
On the last flight, due to heat from the sun, the portable avionics items sitting on the glareshield/dash got too hot and started shutting down. I have started brainstorming to determine what kind of a heat shield I need to protect these instruments. Some fellow pilots came up with very creative solutions which can not be repeated in a respectable setting, like this blog….
We are also trying to determine our stops along the way wherever there are TCF chapters. England and Italy are on the list for now, but will add to it as we get more info from TCF.
Things do seem to be coming together….. just need to plan, plan and plan….then plan some more…..