HOME | The Pilots | The Plane | Pre-Flight | Itinerary | Latest | Flight Following | Discussion | Newsletter | Email

Join the Ponceby Newsletter Email list for news about the next flight


The Pre-Flight

Topics : Charts | Cruise Planning | Survival Gear





On a previous trip to the Middle East via A36TC Bonanza, we carried almost 100 pounds of charts! We looked for a better solution ( charts on CD ROM, prepositioning charts along the route ) and found none. Since Doug worked in the computer industry, he had an inherent distrust of anything electronic. (Also turns out that Jeppessen only carries the Americas and Europe on CD ROM). End result is that we have 120 pounds of Jepps on board (roughly 20 2" Jepp volumes), essentially a trip kit for the whole world.


Our mess of charts in the preparation phase


In addition for VFR, we have a few DOD ONC’s from Sporty’s. These are WAC scale charts that are almost unusable in flight due to the fact that they are printed on one side only and thus quite unwieldy. Nevertheless, the pleasure of pilotage requires some form of VFR charting, and we have ONC’s for Hawaii, the South Pacific, Tanzania, Israel, and Gibraltar among others.



Cruise Planning


Even with 824 gallons of fuel on board, operating at max power cruise would put us in the ocean short of Hawaii. In fact, on most legs we must operate at a max RANGE cruise which puts us very near best L/D angle of attack. Power settings for this cruise condition are given in the POH for 8,9, and 10 thousand pounds weight, But not for the overgross conditions of 11,12, and 13 thousand pounds that we need. Fortunately, it’s a linear extrapolation from the manual. Max cruise speed is about 240 KTAS, Max Range is about 210 KTAS at 13K. By Honolulu we’ll be down to 190 KTAS at roughly 9,000 pounds weight.

For best range, the goal is to fly at the highest altitude that you can sustain best range power. That’s about 18K at high weights. As we lighten with fuel burn over the course of an 11 hour flight, we climb about 2,000 feet every 2 hours. The airplane is certified to 31K, but the pressurization system can only maintain a 10,000 foot cabin altitude to 25K, so FL 240 is our highest practical westbound flight level.

The paragraph above assumes no wind or tailwind. Headwinds require a different profile. For example, If the headwind component at FL 240 was 10 knots greater than at FL180, best range is achieved by staying down at FL 180.

A final note: the NM/lb function on the KLN 90B GPS (essentially miles per gallon) allows us to precisely isolate best range power.




ICAO Flight Plans (the standard outside the U.S.) require pilots to list onboard survival equipment; available categories are maritime, polar, jungle, and desert. We basically need all four. The ICAO and FAA have minimal legal requirements (liferaft, ELT, etc.), and we have supplemented these where necessary.

The gear is divided into three containers, a backpack style liferaft, a large waterproof REI bag that contains the majority of the equipment, and a small container with the extremely valuable 406 MHz EPIRB, handheld ELT and strobes, and the handheld GPS and VHF Com.

The survival gear strapped to Ferry Tank #1


The standard 121.5 MHz aircraft ELT has some limitations. Generally, two passes of a polar orbiting satellite are required to localize your beacon. The satellite must have both the activated emergency beacon and a ground station simultaneously in view. Once localized, accuracy is only to within 12 miles, and the total elapsed time from beacon activation to the deployment of search and rescue is about 6 hours.

The 406 MHz (UHF band) beacon can be received by geosynchronous satellites as well as the polar orbiters, and will fix your position to within a 2 mile radius. SAR notification averages an hour. These beacons are required aboard many marine vessels where they’re called EPIRBs. Often, they are mounted so to automatically activate and float to the surface if the ship sinks (ours is not). The direction finders aboard search and rescue helos, airplanes, and ships work in VHF so each 406 MHz beacon also has a 121.5 transmitter. Finally, each 406 MHz beacon is registered to a specific hull or airframe, so when your distress signal is received, SAR forces know that YOUR aircraft is down and can check your flight plan, ATC, etc. to assist with the search.

The 406 MHz beacon is the superior technology and really every aircraft should have one.

Of course with handheld VHF Com and GPS, we should be able to call any line of sight aircraft and relay our coordinates directly.

So let’s say the worst has transpired; onboard fire or (God forbid) fuel exhaustion and a ditching becomes necessary. Only one Series 90 King Air has ditched, and it floated for two hours and was eventually towed (gear down) up onto a boat ramp! If the emergency exit is opened for egress and not the cabin door, the aircraft should float. Ferry tank tie down straps partially block our emergency exit so we’ve secured a buck knife to the straps.

The raft itself was custom built by the Winslow Liferaft Company and contains the following:

The supplemental survival bag contains the following:

Orange Survival Kit backpack

Medical and First Aid Group: First aid and burn cream, small butterfly closures, large butterfly closures, 10 yd. x 1 in. gauze roll, elastic bandage, 10 yd. x 1/2 in. surgical tape, sheer strips, gauze pads, wound compressors, complete snake-bite kit, cotton pellets, pain-relief drops, metal tweezers, toothache kit, antiseptic towelettes, ammonia inhalants, throat lozenges, aspirin tablets, salt tablets, antihistamine, antacid and anti-diarrheal tablets.

Food and Water Group: 1 qt. water (or fuel) storage container, six tropical chocolate bars, 50 water purification tablets, six tea bags, three fruit drink packs, six sugar bags, four soup packs, three granola bars and chewing gum.

Signal and Light Group: Two Cyalume light sticks, whistle, three red aerial flares, orange smoke signal, signal flag, long-burn candle and signal mirror.

Emergency Devices Group: Good quality utility knife, 25 ft. nylon rope, 5 ft. copper wire, razor blade, four safety pins, quality liquid-filled compass, toilet tissue and survival manual.

Shelter and Protection Group: Large, orange two-person tent, two emergency space blankets (84: x 55"), two pairs of sunglasses, insect repellent and sunburn protection.

Fire and Cooking Group: 50 waterproof matches, two fuel bars, 1 qt. metal cookpot and two 1 pt. containers.

• 100' parachute cord

• Commando wire saw

• 4 Powerbars (3/97)

• 2 tubes glucose tablets (3/97)

— WingZ Bag

• Flare gun with 12 flares

• Two large space blankets

— Food Bag (Pan Am, loaded 5/97)

• Water (5 x 500ml. Crystal Geyser spring water)

• 20 Powerbars (230 calories each, 5/97)

• 2 4-lb. jars of peanut butter (10,500 calories each, 5/97)

— Fishing kit

— Strike-Anywhere matches (9 boxes) and emergency candles (4)

— Folding mosquito headnets (4)

— Fire-starting sticks, waterproof matches, wire wraps

— 32 AA-batteries

— 4 D-cell batteries

— Extra quart-sized ziplocks


HOME | The Pilots | The Plane | Pre-Flight | Itinerary | Latest | Flight Following | Discussion | Newsletter | Email
Join the Ponceby Newsletter Email list for news about the next flight

Website Sponsored by webbnet logoWebbnet - Internet Solutions