Preparing for this trip has been a lot of work but is also half the fun!! The following is a list of what I did and where you can obtain information.
1. Gather as much information as you can. AOPA is a good source, if you are a member. The international web page of AOPA is aopa.org/members/resources/international/html has all the information for crossing the North Atlantic; unfortunately it's short on info for the Pacific. A follow-up call to AOPA is essential. Their people, especially Kitty, will answer all your questions. The "International Flight Information Manual" is on the web site and can be downloaded or purchased from: Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 20402. Read all this info and it will answer a lot of your questions.
2. Talk with as many people as possible who have done this trip.
I met some people with invaluable experience at Oshkosh (EAA AirVenture), in my local EAA Chapter 74, and Women in Aviation International member Denise Walters who has already flown around the world and successfully flown in many air races. I've attached the flight log from Diane's trip (EAA member, Chapter 74) across the North Atlantic in 1993. Another good source for the North Atlantic is Mark Vanbenschoten's video available through Sporty's (he gave a fun presentation at Oshkosh in 2002). I met a Canadian at Oshkosh who had flown the North Atlantic and he kindly sent me all his pictures, log, and budget for the trip. All these contacts and information are extremely helpful as you start a project such as this.
Ferry operations are an excellent source of information. I worked with Globe Aero, an international ferry operation out of Lakeland, FL. Phil was very helpful and is putting the extra tanks in the back of my plane for the Pacific and Indian Ocean legs and is installing the HF radio and antenna. Jose' Monroy, who put in my long range wing tanks, was a fountain of information and suggestions.
3. Start accumulating the gear: HF radio, permits, tanks, safety gear, etc.
a. You'll need a HF radio, permit and plane license. All permit information is available on FCC.gov. You'll need forms: 1070Y, 159 and FCC 605.
b. Required gear includes: life raft with survival kit, survival suit for North Atlantic, life vest, HF radio (depending on route).
- there is no question that Winslow life rafts are the best. Either rent or buy, but make sure it's a Winslow!! It's your life. I bought a Winslow 4 person, twin tube with canopy. I'll use it in the future for my trips to the Bahamas. I purchased it at Oshkosh 2002 and was delivered in Jan 2003. While at Oshkosh, I got to practice deploying and inflating the raft several times. Believe it or not, this was good experience.
c. Recommended equipment includes: EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), handheld GPS, handheld comm, handheld marine radio, batteries, water & food. Some basic survival equipment will come with the raft (FAR Part 91). Winslow raft survival equipment exceeds this minimum requirement.
4. Start talking with your insurance company early.... you might not get it. Some people have travelled without it.... You'll need to provide them an itinerary and your previous flight history (of long flights).
5. Get your airplane in shape for the flight.
Depending on age of plane and engine you might want to do a few extras before leaving. I changed the vacuum pump, tach cable, alternator belt, points, plugs, battery and tires. I also took extra filters, spark plugs and tools. Daytona Aircraft, a certified Mooney maintenance shop, did the annual inspection in December 2002 and the extra work. They have a wealth of experience in Mooneys that is unparalleled. I return every December and depart with confidence for another year of flying.
Oil analyses are part of my regular preventive maintenance. I have several years history from Aviation Laboratories. These reports give me details of various elements present in the old oil and a comfort level that nothing significant is wearing away internally in the engine. This coupled with healthy compression checks give me confidence in my Lycoming engine.
6. Don't forget the Oxygen. Although in the past I have not bothered with oxygen, it is highly recommended for this trip or a trip over the North Atlantic. It provides an additional option to climb above icing in clouds if necessary. I reviewed numerous systems at Sun 'N Fun and Air Venture, Oshkosh 2002 and chose Mountain High Oxygen Systems for their EDS system. This is the lightest, smallest, on-demand, altitude-compensated oxygen system available. It increases my oxygen capacity from 9 hours to 60 hours at 10,000 feet. With the distances I'll be flying and the potential lack of refills available, I will need that extra capacity. Like the Winslow rafts, this is the Rolls Royce of oxygen systems and, after all, I feel I'm worth it.
7. Begin planning. Start with rough planning, then refine it as you get more information. The following government web pages were very useful for each country's consular and aviation information: www.faa.gov/ats/aat/ifim/ifim2tc.htm. Unfortunately, this link doesn't always work, but the web site is there and extremely useful; just put it in manually.
I used the GNC charts for my initial planning. They are available at Sporty's, Jeppesen, or others. I found a GREAT web site for obsolete charts -- GREAT for planning, then you can order the current charts as you need them. See apscharts.com. Even at $1 per obsolete chart, I still spent $37 to cover my route. But, it's well worth the investment to see the details of the airways, reporting points, and minimum altitudes.
8. Why westbound? Many have asked this question. Many races are eastbound. Most North Atlantic crossings prefer eastbound. Answer: the longest legs are over the Pacific Ocean. The prevailing winds are NE in those latitudes, thus providing a tailwind. Also, by traveling westbound, one gains more daylight each day and the body physically accepts the time differences better. The result is a more difficult North Atlantic crossing, against prevailing westerly winds; however, the legs will be shorter across the Atlantic than across the Pacific.
9. Additional articles and web pages:
- A short guide to Transatlantic Flying
- Atlantic Crossings
- Ben's Atlantic Crossing
- Denise Waters' London - Sydney race and Pacific crossing
- Earthrounders: round the world flights in light aircraft
- Reed Prior flies around the world
Statements contained herein are the opinions of Carol Ann Garratt and may contain inadvertent errors. No warranty of accuracy or factual completeness is either expressed or implied. Discussions of flight procedures are meant to be of an informal and conversational nature only and do not necessarily represent the views of the aviation authorities of any government. Furthermore, nothing herein should be construed as ground or flight instruction. Also note that long, transoceanic flying carries with it significant risks necessitating special training and the carriage of sophisticated navigation and survival equipment. Such flights should never be attempted without proper preparation.
I'm happy to hear from you, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org any ideas, suggestions or flight tips. Thanks.