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March 13, 2012: First Blog:

on Monday, 12 March 2012. Posted in Our Blog

AN IDEA

When Judy and I first had the idea of flying around the world together, I turned it into a navigation exercise.

My first idea was to fly around the world in an aircraft without additional tanks:

  • How do I find where airports are in other countries?
  • How do I measure distances between those airports without charts?

Luckily someone invented the Internet:   

Using these sites, I determined if I had an airplane that could fly 900NM, I could fly around the world.

WHICH AIRCRAFT TO FLY?

Many airplanes have this minimum range, but when I read CarolAnn Garratt's books on her trips ( http://alsworldflight.als.net/ ) and look at the Earthrounders' site ( http://www.earthrounders.com/index.html ) I found that finding 100LL fuel is sometimes problematic.

So I set my sights on a diesel powered airplane which could fly on jet fuel available at any airport in the world. More problems ensued. Despite the need to find a replacement for Avgas powered aircraft, piston diesel aircraft are rare.  From my experience at Middle Tennessee State University, I was very familiar with the Diamond Aircraft line. The DA-42 twin diesel seemed perfect for this project. Then the engine manufacturer went out of business. Diamond had to create their own engine. They have succeeded in getting their diesel approved. But I was taught early in my aviation career, don't fly the "A" model.

Weather is factor in determining when to take the trip. What are the favorable winds for a trip that will have to spend a great deal of the flight in the upper reaches of the Northern Hemisphere? Do you choose to go east or west? What in-flight hazards are there? When is the temperature in those areas high enough to allow for airplane operation without harm to the engine and hazards on the ground? With the initial idea of leaving from Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, FL, it was going to be perfect. We would be traveling though the coldest portion of the north during the summer.

Then a new wrinkle caused a change in plans. The excellent idea of using students to follow our trip and help plan our route moved the flight from a summer trip to a fall/winter trip. That precludes using the northern route. Now all the questions in the previous paragraph need to be answered again. The airplane and the route planning need to be started from scratch. Without the northern route, how far does the aircraft have to fly? What is the shortest distance to cross the Atlantic Ocean? The Pacific Ocean? Can we go from continent to continent or do we have to island hop? How much extra fuel do I need to take to make it that distance? How do I modify the airplane to add all that fuel? How do I get permission to modify the airplane? What are the rules for taking a modified aircraft into other countries? If you are assigned an airplane what information do you need to decide if you make it work?

I've included the first and last (so far) spreadsheets I used to determine if this could work. I just picked airports to see if the distances worked out. I still have to consult with Earthrounders and flight planners to see if these airports have the proper fuel.

OTHER QUESTIONS

Maintenance:

  • How much can the pilot's do?
  • What maintenance is required by the manufacturer for an airplane being used in these long flights?

Over water flight requirements:

  • What extra equipment do we need to have in the airplane?
  • What are the radios needed to communicate over the long distances?
  • Do we need training in water survival?

Technology:

  • What equipment is available to assist in around the world navigation.
  • If it is installed in the airplane, how do we update it? 
  • How much training is needed to be proficient in its use? 
  • Is there a more portable device I could use to assist in flight planning? 
  • Is it able to contain data for the whole earth?

Environmental Concerns:

  • How can we reduce our impact on the atmosphere and the environment during this trip?
  • What alternatives to 100LL might there be in the future? 
  • Will that fuel replacement work in all aircraft?

Human Physiology:

  • How high can we fly without supplemental oxygen? 
  • By regulation and recommendation, are there other oxygen requirements in the countries we are flying over? 
  • During the long portions of the flight, what kind of food should we eat? 
  • How much water should we drink? 
  • How do we keep our muscles from tightening up without being able to get up and move around?

The research and work continues.  - Fred Nauer, Navigator, ThinkGlobalFlight.org

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