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Range and ease of long-distance travel

I think much depends on the purpose of the flight and what is meant by “long distance”.

TCT’s exploits – thread here – were IMHO a media/sponsorship/publicity stunt, and on these it is the logistics and getting the media coverage that determine how the show is executed. She had IIRC an accompanying plane, plus an accompanying ground (vehicle) team. Plus somebody had to do a lot of planning and stuff like positioning fuel. And if you do 1000nm legs then the ground team won’t catch up until days later, which is a hassle because you have to stop everywhere for a few days. Nobody would do a trip for any normal purpose in that way. These are just stunts which are – ostensibly – done to show that a woman can fly a plane. No sh*it Sherlock!

A friend of mine did such a trip in a turbine helicopter and he had almost a 24/7 backup at home, on a satellite phone which was installed in the helicopter (which also had a short range – something like 500nm to zero fuel), and the backup guy was very busy. It also cost a fortune; I recall an outrageous amount of USD (4 or 5 figures) just to bribe people in Russia.

But even for more reasonable distance than the jobs above, Europe throws up a few more issues than say the USA. In many places there aren’t so many airfields, and in some places there is very little avgas. There are also immigration/customs issues for the pilots from some of the countries which feature most in touring around Europe and these limit the airports on the first or last leg of a trip. So while doing burger runs in the south east UK, or much of say Germany, Sweden, etc, is perfectly doable in a 200nm-range plane, if you want to pop down to say Greece it gets impractical because of the avgas situation:

For around the world trips, I can’t comment from personal experience but even just a look at N Africa (as I did, for Egypt, some years ago) shows that the hassles multiply rapidly. It’s pretty obvious that you need some of

  • plenty of time
  • speak some languages (harder to get favours, especially illegal ones, unless you can converse comfortably)
  • be able to use car petrol (won’t work for a bigger plane – fancy e.g. 300 litres in cans?)
  • have loads of range – at least 1000nm. Plenty of IFR tourers do have such a range; my TB20 will go some 1350nm from top of climb to FL100, and that is priceless for going around Europe too
  • have a logistics backup and use fuel drum positioning

Anyone who says speed is not important has not flown over N France, especially with a headwind

There are not many airfields with a Mogas pump, so a preference for this would appear to be very restrictive – unless the amount of fuel is so small that you can get somebody to fill up a few cans at a petrol station. That said, a lot of long range pilots have used car petrol in an emergency, usually in one wing and they take off on the other wing.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA

We’re starting to plan a round the world trip for 2020. I’m hoping to get a Turtle-Pac ferry tank installed which will give us the range to fly Hawaii – California. 2070 nm…

Spending too long online
EGTF Fairoaks, EGLL Heathrow

I may have a 600l Turtle Pac you can buy/borrow.

EGKB Biggin Hill

LeSving I thought most 18C came with 18 usg tanks in both wings (35 usg useable) – at 80 ktas it use around 5 usg per hour.

Andrewsfield (EGSL), Stapleford (EGSG)

On the North Atlantic crossing, I regarded Kulusuk-BGKK as the critical leg as arriving in the vicinity and needing to divert would put your nearest alternates as Keflavik or Sondrestrom Fjord, so over 700NM plus contingency required. I did it with approx 1100 nm still air cruise range at 150 KTAS, and was reasonably comfortable with that.
Frobisher Bay and Sondrestrom Fjord do have a few more and closer alternates, possibly without assured Avgas availability, but that doesn’t rule them out as emergency diversions.

I was recently at a talk by CarolAnn Garratt and have to agree with her philosophy that, having done a record breaking RTW trip and also a couple of relaxed, meandering ones, the ones that allow you to explore and relax are much more fulfilling and enjoyable.

If you’re willing to forgo the long pacific crossing and Antartica, most places in the world can be reached with less than 1000NM range and a bit of planning

KHWD- Hayward California; EGTN Enstone Oxfordshire

I spent the first 10 years of my flying never having enough fuel to do what we wanted.

And the rest where if we didn’t have enough it was because we didn’t load enough.

When things start to go wrong having one less thing to worry about is great. It lets you concentrate on the problem in hand.

In 2016 Hank Cheng flew his RV8 B-KOO on 2 long sectors whilst completing his RTW trip.

Hilo, Hawaii to Santa Cruz was 14 hours with 5 hours reserves.

St Johns direct Santa Maria. He stayed away from Greenland and Iceland as he was concerned about the low temperatures.

The aircraft was pretty standard but did have a Turtlepac.

I guess you just need the mindset to fly long legs over water on a sep. Sure gets round overflight clearances.

The Big Daddy of them all though is Bill Harrelson.

In 2013 he flew from Guam to Jacksonville, Florida, at a distance of 7,051 nm, in 38 hours, 29 minutes.

This was in his home built Lancair 4, specially modified.

It’s all about deciding what your mission is and then, assuming you have the funds, buy, build or modify an aircraft to suit.

At the end of the day having the capacity to take a lot of extra fuel gives you more options.

Last Edited by Teal at 20 Apr 20:49
Hampshire

Mark_1 wrote:

On the North Atlantic crossing, I regarded Kulusuk-BGKK as the critical leg as arriving in the vicinity and needing to divert would put your nearest alternates as Keflavik or Sondrestrom Fjord, so over 700NM plus contingency required. I did it with approx 1100 nm still air cruise range at 150 KTAS, and was reasonably comfortable with that.

I tend to disagree. I think any leg Iceland to Narsarsuaq is worse as it is further from Iceland and any diversion to either Kulusuk or Sondresom is further still. For most 1000 mile planes you can plan BIRK to BGSF and treat Kulusuk as the enroute alternate.

EGTK Oxford

UK to Reykyavik is around 650 NM, so that requires at least a 800-900 NM airplane.

If Vagar is useable, then you have two legs of 250 NM and 430 NM respectively.

Reykyavik to Söndreström is 730 NM, so low range planes need to plan via Kulusuk anyhow. That is about two legs at 380 NM each. Quite a few low range planes have crossed with that route.

Söndreström to Iqualuit is close to 500 NM, Gothab is closer to Iqualuit by about 40 NM.

Once in Iqualuit, things get challenging again. From Iqualuit to Schefferville it’s well over 500 NM. Of course you can split this with Kujuaq but not sure if they have fuel.

The southern route via Nassasuaq and Goose is generally shorter, but I think requires HF. BGBW to Goose however is 700 NM.

Generally I’d say 1000 NM range is the minimum for this trip to be comfortable, particularly with the winds. Most planes can achieve this with a turtlepack or LR tanks. Mine could with the Monroys if I ever get to install them…

Then again, on such routes, speed is vital. I’d say, 150 kts TAS is the lower end to do this trip.

To go via the Azores, you need a range of well over 1600 NM and it mostly can be done only eastbound. St. Johns to Santa Maria are 1400 NM, there are two intermediates (Flores and Lajes) but neither has Avgas and Flores has no immigration.

I’d love to do the NATL one of these days but it won’t be in my C model, as it definitly doesn’t have the range and is too slow with 140-150 kts. With Monroy tanks (88 USG useable) she’d be able to do up to 1200 NM, but ideally I’d love to have a LR tanks equipped Ovation for this, which has 2400 NM range at 170 kts. The idea of being able to do St.Johns to ZRH one day (which is 2400 NM ground distance so with a good tailwind….) kind of appeals…. even though you’d need a physiotherapist to get out of the plane thereafter…

Last Edited by Mooney_Driver at 20 Apr 22:58

Mooney_Driver wrote:

UK to Reykyavik is around 650 NM, so that requires at least a 800-900 NM airplane.

If Vagar is useable, then you have two legs of 250 NM and 430 NM respectively.

But BIEG is the other possible port of entry to Iceland and is about 150NM closer than Reykjavik.

Most people going without HF radio will generally route Kulusuk to/from Sondrestrom or Iqaluit to avoid oceanic airspace, so I stand by my statement that that is the critical leg for fuel planning.

KHWD- Hayward California; EGTN Enstone Oxfordshire

Thanks all for the feedback. It seems that speed is more important than I’d imagined.

How important is stability if you’re flying long legs VFR? I’ve flown a few legs of 3 hours or so in my Turbulent which is reasonably twitchy – you can easily find yourself in a steep turn whilst reading the map. I haven’t been aware of finding this fatiguing on shorter flights but I could imagine it might be a problem for longer flights?

Last Edited by kwlf at 21 Apr 11:27
EGCW
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