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MÉXICO MEETING 2005

November 23-27, 2005

ROUND TABLE DISCUSSIONS
 



Below, you will find comments sent in by various pilots present at the roundtables, some Earthrounders, some of them soon-to-be Earthrounders. Many subjects were raised, from safety and survival, mechanics, communications, clearances, handlers, ethics, etc. The discussions were both useful and enjoyable. Several people have promised to send in comments, so if they do, we will keep on adding them. New entries will appear at the bottom (thus saving you having to re-read the whole thing again!).

Let us remember
At the opening of the first roundtable, Frank Haile spoke words of remembrance for Earthrounders who have flown on ahead since our first founding meeting in Oshkosh in 2000:
2000: Guenter Kuhlman
2001: Peter Weidmann
2003: Walt Hedgren
2004: Dan Webb
2005: Bob Reiss, William Howard Wisner, Charles Key.

Getting knotted
When crossing large expanses of forest such as the Amazon, carry a 100 ft rope. In an emergency, light aircraft, especially singles, have a good chance of staying tangled in the canopy and of not falling to the ground. A number of pilots/passengers have survived the crash but seriously injured or killed themselves when trying to descend from the treetops. A long rope can soften that 'second' landing. (Gérard Moss - Brazil)

Crash helmet
In the case of ditching or forced landing, a great number of pilots suffer head injuries, no matter how tight their seatbelts are. A light, compact helmet - like a bicycle helmet - can be kept under the seat and put on in a flash. It will considerably help to reduce brain damage (!) and increase your chance of rapid evacuation from the aircraft after impact. (Gérard Moss - Brazil)

Sea Survival courses
I took the Aircraft Ditching and the Sea Survival classes given by this group:
http://www.survivalsystemsinc.com/avcourselist.htm out of Groton CT, USA. Very professional and I learned a lot. Gave me the confidence to fly out-of-sight of land as I traversed Hudson Bay. (Bill Kahn - USA)

Best behaviour!
Michel Gordillo requested that pilots setting out around the world should abide by a certain ethics, always obtaining the required clearances and paying their landing fees, so as not to spoil it for other pilots who come after them. The general worldwide tendency these days is to marginalize light aircraft, so we must do our best to make sure that we can won't be ostracized and can continue long-distance flying for many years to come. (Margi Moss - Brazil)

Stashed it away
I really liked Gérard's idea about stashing extra cash in bags velcroed inside the fuselage. (Jack Ranweiler - USA)

Keep in touch: Email through HF radio
The mobile HF email stuff comes in two forms, HAM (Amateur Radio - free service), and commercial or co-op (like Sailmail for a yearly fee). Both use identical equipment and almost identical software. For the hardware, you will need: - HF transceiver - HF antenna coupler or antenna matching system - Pactor modem manufactured by SCS in Germany (see http://www.yachtwire.com/ ) - interconnecting cables. For the software: - HAM's use Airmail (free from website http://www.airmail2000.com/ ) -The Sailmail software and service is covered at http://www.sailmail.com/ The shoreside (ground based) service for the HAM email is "Winlink". See the Winlink site for all the info about how the system works, its advantages and restrictions http://winlink.org/. Some good sites to help put it all together: (borrowed from the boating folks) http://www.docksideradio.com/sm_guide.htm, http://members.aol.com/CruisingServices/info.htm. Some great little books to get folks started at http://www.idiyachts.com/. My HF guru, Wes Whitley, would be glad to consult on the use of HF and HF email in aircraft or remote locations. Wes Whitley can be reached at (321) 779-9544. Telephone consulting would be free. (CarolAnn Garratt - USA)..

Cleared to land?
Country requirements and services available www.faa.gov/ats/aat/ifim/ifim2tc.htm is the International Flight information manual by FAA. You can get aeronautical information, consular information, and services available at airports. (CarolAnn Garratt - USA)

Watch the weather
http://www.goes.noaa.gov/WINDS/windsNHIRW.html provides winds across the Pacific Ocean and also links to other global satellite information. http://aviationweather.gov/iffdp/ - this site has changed since I used it, but there is still a lot of international wind, temperature, and weather information. (CarolAnn Garratt - USA)

Instrument Rating - improved comfort
Not required but highly recommended, in at least my opinion. Hans Guttman (Ed.note - and many others) has flown around the world twice without an instrument rating, so it is not a necessity. However, my guess is that Hans is quite adept at manipulating the controls with only instrument references. The discussion on this subject was very spirited. (David Rice - USA)

Don't hold your breath: use oxygen!
Again a spirited discussion with comments ranging from, do not leave home without it to oxygen is for wimps. Frank Haile has flown around the world four times without using oxygen so it is or at least was not a necessity. My recommendation is that pilots should study enroute altitudes for their route and plan accordingly. If in doubt pilots could purchase an "oximeter" and determine their own tolerance to altitude, which varies widely among different people. In October our older son and I climbed a 6,430 meter mountain in Nepal with no problem, others 30 years younger than I did not make it to within 1,500 meters of the top. Hypoxia can be serious so pilots should be aware of their personal physiological limitations. (David Rice - USA)

What is best, East or West?
Nobody got excited. However, this is a serious consideration. Both Wayne Collins and Frank Haile (combined total of 6ATW's) recommend west to have more daylight in the event of ditching at sea. Winds at their latitudes and dates of their flights were not reported to be a problem. This may be a planning and scheduling consideration. However, if I am going to go swimming I prefer it to be in daylight hours. (David Rice - USA)

Can you Handle it?
Handlers or Not: This may be a convenience that helps pilots maintain a schedule. Pilots with more time and lower budgets seemed to enjoy doing everything themselves and considered bureaucratic "problems" to be enjoyable challenges, sometimes with unexpected and pleasant outcomes. I interpret this to be a personal matter that works well either way. (David Rice - USA)

Each upon its own...
The thought that I carried away from the meeting is that there are as many ways to fly around the world as there are people who have done it. Earthrounders are individualists! Every Earthrounder has been successful and people like me should listen to everyone and do what makes sense to them. (David Rice - USA)

Be prepared!
Prepare carefully. A lot of information and opinion on survival and equipment available. Hopefully, it will not be needed but....remember Horst who could not work his new gadgets properly because he lost his glasses getting into the liferaft. Horst succesful diching and rescue can be found on: http://www.earthrounders.com/horst.php (Ed.).
A good site for information is: http://www.equipped.org (Bill Finlen - Australia)

Don't put off ….
Set the date for departure. We can always find good reasons to delay such a trip but if the departure date is set, it will probably happen. (Bill Finlen - Australia)

Charney's List
Following were very helpful items brought up by experienced Earthrounders:
1. Take a HOSE along for fuel transfer
2. FUEL FUNNEL, especially one with a fuel strainer built-in (chamois for backup)
3. Hand or Electric FUEL TRANSFER PUMP
4. Do not DRAIN fuel tanks in front of anyone (giving them the idea for free fuel)
5. Know how to use your cell/sat phone for TEXT MESSAGING (far less expensive)
6. Know phone numbers of ATC sector controllers applicable to your route for use in case of HF failure
7. Make use of AOPA, especially the Internation div., for their many services
8. Know the Aero Clubs along your route. They can provide great local knowledge and services.
9. Make sure your survival items are ATTACHED TO YOUR BODY.
10. http://www.equippedtosurvive.com" website is a good research site for survival equipment
11. Have the latest and greatest EPIRB emergency beacon
12. Learn about the seasonal weather along your route
13. Take your own OIL
14. Take Carbon Paper for India
15. If you can stand it, take someone along to help with the numerous duties
(Bill Charney - USA)

GPRS-SMS - HF with Paktor - Irridium
In not so remote places with GSM coverage I use GPRS with a decicated card (Nokia D211) in my laptop. This works very well and is well known, so I don't think I need to spend more time on this method, Your GSM provider will have all details.
A very easy way of getting metars, forecast is via SMS. I use http://www.wxsupport.com. For a small fee You get up to date info on Your GSM phone. I asked them if they send the data via the (free) Irridium SMS service wich would be nice in remote places, but no answer yet.
HF with a Paktor modem works very well for e-mail and weather. Paktor is a protocol wich is developed by Radio Amateurs (as is SSB). I use "Sailmail", wich is a organisation wich has radio stations all over the world. You pay 200 USD and the trafic is free, but limited to 10 min a day, they offer also a lot of weather download. When using a Paktor III modem You can send a lot of mails in these 10min. "Sailmail" is oriented to sailboats wich use the system during long passages and during long periods of time. This service is very good if You're away for months or even years, but I think for shorter periods the cost of installing a Paktor III modem etc is not worthwhile and data comm via Iridium is more suited. The software for sailmail is free of charge and very well made. Pls visit their website: http://www.sailmail.com.

Iridium is best suited for short periods of internet access and e-mail. Most earthrounders will already have an Iridium set in the plane. (I hook my 9505 up via a small break in box, so that I hear ATC and phone simultaneously and no need to rewire the audio panel. http://www.pilotsupport.com).
You will need a provider with a strong compression engine, I use "Ocens". They can give You weather, e-mail and internet access for a reasonable fee and you will be suprised about the access speed ! You will need the com port adaptor on Your phone and the software that Ocens supplies. They are very helpfull if You have problems. Their website: http://www.ocens.com.

Now a few websites for weather, flightplanning, info etc:
Free site in Europe with a lot of weather info: http://www.euro.wx.propilots.net/
SMS weather etc: http://www.wxsupport.com
France all info and weather in French: http://www.nav2000.com
IFR flight plan filing can be a real challenge in Europe, life will be a bit easier if you file via this site: http://www.homebriefing.com
Its always nice to know the top of clouds, I use: http://weather.uwyo.edu/upperair/sounding.html select region and type of plot. (stuve) You'l have the temp and dewpoint up to the high flight levels.

Some more comments on Sailmail.
I use Sailmail while sailing and the system works very well on board of a boat.
Tried it now in the plane and found that I had interference with some instruments on board, especially the autopilot didn't like the short HF pulses that Pactor uses.
And Yes I did all the needed shielding and I did put Ferrite filters.
Also I think that the investment and the quite complex installation is not worth the benifit for short trips. Personally I think services as OCENS via Iridium is the way to go for simple and reliable results.
Don't forget that Sailmail only gives You text e-mail, no Web browsing
(Koen Velleman Belgium)

Ed's note:
These comments are presented here to be taken purely as each respective individual's suggestions, advice or interpretation thereof. There are no set rules for flying around the world, each person does it at their own risk and in their own way. We thank all those who took the time to send in their contributions, and we look forward to receiving more. Bill Charney remarks that comments on insurance would be appreciated! David Rice also remembered that Michel Gordillo mentioned a book with all international airports… Michel, can you fish that out for us?


 


Last update: December 15, 2006
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