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….