Preparation for our Trip
The Very Beginning
It all started to come together in 2005 when we (Mookie & Mike) owned a Piper Lance and wanted to fly to Israel and back. Contrary to what we thought would be a relatively easy plan, our wives put a minor veto on the idea with, " Over our dead bodies are you guys going to fly over the ocean with ONE engine".
Thus began our desire to upgrade to a twin.
Now that we had a Baron 58 1975 accompanied by two new engines that we installed 2 years prior to our trip - Mookie said, "Hey Mike, let's up the ante and see if we can go around the world." To this Mike said, "I don't see why not. Yes, let's do it!"
Help from Earthrounders
The website www.earthrounders.com lists all of the pilots who have flown a light plane around the world. After reading some of the stories, one starts thinking, "I can do that." When we started to think seriously about it, we contacted a few of the pilots from www.earthrounders.com by email and later by phone. They were very positive with lots of helpful information. If they could do it, so could we.
Fuel Modifications, Time Zones, and Prevailing Winds
Because our Beechcraft Baron can fly just about 1000 nautical miles, we understood that we'd have to install a Ferry tank in order to complete the distances between some destinations. We contacted TurtlePac out of Australia and sent them the exact measurement of the rear of the plane after taking out the four seats in the back.
We initially planned on taking a route up through Japan, touching down in Far East Russia and then, following the Aleutian chain, back toward the mainland, but we soon found that there is no acceptable Avgas in all of Russia, only jet fuel and low octane auto gas. That of course would not work. Therefore, it was decided to take the more conventional route out through the South Pacific. This will entail, however, a 2020 mile leg from Hawaii to California and require the installation of auxiliary fuel tanks. With the tanks now installed, the increased range is 2600 miles. We think this will give us a slightly better comfort factor for the trip.
Some earthrounders prefer a westerly route because you continue to gain hours as longitudinal lines are crossed. However, in the Northern Hemisphere, there is the penalty of significant headwinds for most of the trip. We opted for the shorter days with prevailing tailwinds. After checking all of the various airports for Avgas availability, the route over the North Atlantic down through Southeast Asia and out through the Pacific was inked in.
Permits and Permissions
Flying in the United States is quite easy. You file a flight plan, write down the clearance, fly to your destination and try not to bounce the landing. However, it is not nearly that simple in most other areas of the world. Other countries require overflight, and takeoff and landing permits. There is also quite a bit of paperwork to sort through at each destination. Often, permit and permission ascertainment can prove to be too much for pilots to handle on their own. Fortunately, there are flight service companies that will provide the various permits, and there are also ground handling agents who will walk us through the arrival obstacles. This should definitely make the experience much more relaxed and enjoyable. All we have to do is take in the beautiful scenery and -- oh yeah -- try not to bounce the landing.
Finalizing Preparation, and the Fun Part
Most of the planning has now been completed. We are now starting to get really excited about the trip.
Below are detailed pictures of the Baron's extensive, required modifications.