18 March 2013

Kodiak Ferry Update 12

Right now I am sitting at JFK, wait to board my flight back home. When I arrived, I had not even entertained the idea that I would be sitting. here. In my mind's eye, I saw myself and Ron landing the Kodiak at the farm. Many people have questions as to why this happened and actually want more details.

Well to summarise very simply as we have communicated before, we had delays with the ferry tank approval. When we had verbal confirmation that it would be issued the same day, we set off for Bangor, Maine in anticipation of getting under way at last. The delays started putting Ron's schedule under more and more pressure, but we decided if we could, we would still press on. We were very disappointed to hear that there were further problems with the tank approval, so we decided we did not want to try and waste more time on this route.

We decided to try and re-plan the route through Greenland, Iceland, Scotland and down West Africa. We made initial moves in this direction, but realised that the time pressure for Ron would simply increase, not just because the route was longer, but because it took us further north into winter weather, which would also mean more waiting for suitable weather windows. With this kind of time pressure we were beginning to put ourselves in a position where we would most likely be tempted to compromise on the kind of weather decisions we would make.

Lastly, our budget simply did not go this far, for routing north, we would need an additional $10 000. Other smaller factors like not getting Spidertracks (the satellite flight following service) working and other small details combined to make us consider the decision to postpone this attempt.

We have left the Kodiak at Maine Aero Services in Bangor, Maine, to obtain the ferry tank approval. We expect this would take at least another month, so we have time to re-group and plan again. We also need to raise additional funds to cover the trip later.

The postponement of the trip is very disappointing as we had put a lot of time and effort into making it succeed, but we know that God is never surprised and we trust Him for His timing and provision.


11 March 2013

Kodiak Ferry Update 11

Well at last you get another update!

Being delayed by bureaucracy is probably one of the most frustrating things that can happen. Authorities have the power to determine things that we have no control over and their timing is certainly not ours. In hindsight we can look back and say we should have planned for the Northern route and simply done it without a ferry tank. This would have cost a lot more, but we would more than likely be home in SA by now! It is always easy to look back and say "we should have this or that", but today we launched for Bangor, Maine.

The flight was uneventful, and I, as usual, forgot about taking pictures or video at the crucial times. I forgot to switch my camera on when it was important, so there is a lack of good pictures.

We left Robbinsville, New Jersey for a larger field nearby (8 nm) to upload some fuel and then we launched for a route around the eastern part of the busy New York airspace. This is not difficult on an IFR flight plan provided you find the waypoints given in your clearance. We filed a certain route, entered that route into the Kodiak's sophisticated navigation unit, but the clearance we were given, had none of the waypoints we filed. Well, no great problem, we got it sorted out and enjoyed a late afternoon and evening flight in excellent weather through New Jersey, New York and the New England states. I have yet to see Maine in the daylight.

The airfield we stopped at for fuel still had plenty of evidence of the heavy snow that fell the day before. We are very grateful for good weather. I will try to get some better pictures on our next leg to St John's.

The paperwork challenges we still face are:
1. FAA special flight permit that allow us to fly overweight and
2. The same from the Canadian Authorities, but this is more of a formality, but can still take up to 2 working days. There are also additional paperwork challenges related to Customs, and other officialdom. We have hoped and prayed for a speedy transition through New Jersey, which took us all of 11 days!!! We are a bit numb from the frustration, and it certainly does not help to complain or get worked up about it. It feels good to be one more step closer to home, with a long way to go.

On the flight to Bangor we had the opportunity to test our ferry tank, to make sure it all worked as advertised, and we are satisfied that it will do the job. Unfortunately our Spidertracks unit did not do the job at all. No position reports we sent, despite double checking that it had all been set up correctly. We do have time to get the manufacturers to help us trouble-shoot the problem. I was also hoping to send some text messages from the plane while in flight through the Spidertracks system, but again, no joy. The staff have been more than helpful and I assume they will do the same again.

John and Ron

09 March 2013

Kodiak Ferry Update 10

Hi all,

It is 6:15 Thursday evening and we just got a call from the company who has done the ferry tank installation and paperwork. Effectively we need 2 separate approvals.
1. The tank and the installation itself requires engineering approval.
2. On the strength of this we need a special flight permit which allows us to fly overweight.

The call this evening was to say that they had heard from the engineer annd that he would have the tank engineering installation approval completed tomorrow morning. This is good news, because that allows us to fly the plane with the ferry tank installed.

We will only be able to fly the plane overweight with a special flight permit. This will need to be issued from the FAA office closest to the place where we depart overweight. This will be from the Portland, Maine, FAA office. The only consolation is that we are not the only ones to be caught up in the wake of the FAA cutbacks and confusion. Add to this a new director of the Portland, Maine office. The Cessna Caravan that went on to Bangor heading along the same route as we will take, had no problems with the tank installation, but he is still in Bangor trying to get his special flight permit from the FAA. He was hoping to have that this evening, so may get going sometime tomorrow to St John's.

The aftermath of the rain and storm is still lingering. The weather window for Bangor and St John's has opened nicely, but we may still need to battle some weather tomorrow if we get to fly. There were parts of New Jersey along the coast that had flooding from the storm surge and are still without electricity. This is a part of the USA that is still reeling from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy late last year.

We have also used the time to complete our HF radio installation completely and the antennae is installed and tunes properly with the radio, so we think that is a go as well.



04 March 2013

Kodiak Ferry Update 9

Hi All,

I have not been very forthcoming with news over the past few days, but the reason for this, is that our time now is just taken up with a little waiting.

The ferry tank installation was completed on Thursday and the FAA started processing the paperwork on Friday. We used Friday morning to re-pack the plane, get shipping arranged for the seats we are not able to carry and to just have a little rest and relaxation and to get a few more small details in order.
Ron spent the day getting a temporary installation together for our HF radio, which will save us some time and money in Bangor. Today (Sunday) was spent very relaxed, buying a few bits and pieces at Radio Shack for the HF radio and doing some laundry.

We hope to have a final answer from the FAA for the ferry tank installation and set off to Bangor Maine. We also have a pile of paperwork to prepare and process for our entry into Canada, this includes online applications for the aircraft, a permit to fly the aircraft in Canadian airspace with a ferry tank and all kinds of other documentation. Fortunately Ron is familiar with this process and most of it, except the Canadian permit for flying with a ferry tank, is something he has done before. Our plan is to fly to Bangor, Maine tomorrow (Monday) if the weather co-operates and we will need to complete the paperwork preparation for Canada while in Maine.

There does seem to be some kind of Storm brewing in the mid-west and the forecast is for a severe winter storm on the east coast of the USA. We hope we are long gone before that happens.