I kindly ask for your advice on the following trip-planning problem:
Next year in may, my family is invited for a stay on the Danish island of Bornholm, south of the Swedish coast. Traveling there from Hanover, the cheapest option would be to drive by car to Sassnitz, on the Island of Rügen (NE Germany) and then by ferry to Bornholm. That makes for a car journey of about 6 hours and another 4 hours by ferry. The ferry costs 320€ for a two way ticket, including 5 people and a car. The car journey itself would costs us roughly 100€.
So 420€ to Bornholm and back, with at least 20 hours of travel time (both ways).
Obviously, I wouldn’t be posting this on an aviation forum if I didn’t think about flying there instead.
Bornholm has an airport in Rønne (EKRN), which was already discussed in an earlier topic on this forum. The latest PIREP from May 2016 sounds good, EKRN offers all the facilities one would need for reasonable fees. The DCT route from Hannover EDDV is almost exactly 240 nm. One could fly there in straight line VFR, as there are no restricted airspaces inbetween (although there is a Danger Area just NE of the German coast, starting from FL 70).
My problem is this: As mentioned above, I would have to carry my family (wife + 2 kids) for this trip. This also means some baggage needs to be carried, about 20 kg + another 10 kg for the foldable baby buggy. And no, you cannot pack any more lightly than this for two small children and my wife. Total weight of pilot+passengers+baggage would ammount to about 230 kg.
Next problem: I don’t have a plane. So I need to rent. Available four seaters in my area are either C172s or SR20s. I have zero flight hours on any of those, so I would need some prior training. Given my tight schedule and the time of the year, it is highly unlikely for me to gather any more than 15, maybe 20 hours of flying on any type until then. Would this be sufficient? Also and especially considering my TT of just under 50 hrs, all PPL training included?
I think this flight is fairly straightforward, but there is a sea crossing involved. About 48 nm over the Baltic Sea. I’m not particularly afraid of a sea crossing because I think an engine failure in a typical German rental SEP is less likely than being killed in a car crash, which I usually don’t worry about when driving a car. Still, it makes one feel uneasy to have no Plan B when flying with one’s family.
I would try to fly as high as possible to remain in glide range as long as possible, but how high is that with a then one-year old on board? FL100 doesn’t seem wise from a medical point of view, as infants have lower hypoxia tolerance than adults. And using oxygen is completely out of the questions, won’t work with two toddlers on board and it would make my wife (and me, tbh) feel uneasy too.
Last but not least, while we are flexible with the departure day, we need to get back on a specific date (could go earlier but not later), which is always problematic when planning a non-local VFR flight.
So the question would be: Do you think it is feasible (and sensible) for me to prepare for and fly this trip? Which aircraft would you select? Or shall we rather stay on the ground (which is also going to be much cheaper)?
In general, that a very good occasion to put your PPL to good use. When water crossings are involved, GA is always a very attractive solution, due to the time/hassle saving. This is also a very scenic flight, flying past Schwerin, Rostock and across Rügen. A few points:
Or shall we rather stay on the ground (which is also going to be much cheaper)?
At the risk of being controversial (and I know your are somewhat budget-constrained): If that is your main thought, then maybe you should rethink your overall flying aspirations. GA flying is almost always going to cost a LOT more than travelling via any other means. You have to (sufficiently) factor in the fun, the satisfaction, the adventure and the time saving. If not, it doesn’t make sense. So ask yourself: am I a pilot mostly for the sheer “fascination of flying”? Or do I also want to get REAL utility out of my flying (which, alas, costs a lot more money than just occasionally boring some holes into the sky) ? I think that is the major dividing line among the group of private pilots.
So, considering the combination of the factors:
pressure, weather, sea, cabin space, rental cost and minimum billable flight time
… I am not sure it works for you.
Thanks for the sound advice Bosco. Cost is indeed the least of my worries for this trip. Even my wife thinks this would be an ideal opportunity to put my PPL to good use.
The weather might indeed be the limiting factor here though recently May tended to have better weather for flying than even the summer months here op North.
Many thanks for pointing out that TB20 for rent, didn’t know about that!
All things considered, space and weather will be the main limiters. I am well aware that there needs to be a Plan B due to weather alone. As for space, a day-trip to one of the Frisian islands might be a good way to test that before.
As Boscomantico is writing, changing to another aircraft in the same class (SEP) is not as big deal as many poeple thinks, but be careful, not to add many new things like variable pitch, EFIS or maybe retractable landinggear etc. easilly said, things that you are not used to.
You did not mention what type you flew during training.
My personal opinion is that with family involved (attention getter), new plane that you would only have a few hours in, is not a good combination.
May is far away and you could still fix these problems, but you have to feel confident with the plane you are going to fly.. it can be 2 hours o it can be 10-15, depending on the pilot.
Be ready and always have a plan B, even C.
Check out Ogimet, they have history of TAF/METAR and you can check how the WX was last May.
I’m not particularly afraid of a sea crossing because I think an engine failure in a typical German rental SEP is less likely than being killed in a car crash
So you are trusting your entire family’s life on the sole notion that the antique and abused engine in a rented aircraft “won’t quit”? I see this differently. A piston engine may quit at any time, and the PIC must make sure nothing happens to the passengers if it does. But that’s me.
A piston engine may quit at any time, and the PIC must make sure nothing happens to the passengers if it does. But that’s me.
That kind of statement is not helpful. A wheel on your car may fall off “at any time”. You might get a heart attack “at any time”. If you’re driving your family on a highway at 100+ km/h, what measures have you taken to make sure that “nothing happens to the passengers” in such a case? Anything could happen “at any time”. The interesting question is: what is the RISK involved? How large is it compared to other risks? What kind of mitigation makes sense.
I can’t help with the route but as regards the water crossing, as with all things in aviation you need a Plan B and that means you must carry a raft. Then, make sure you have fuel in the tanks And don’t worry about it.
Flying high will still put you out of glide range for a part of the water crossing but at about 1 minute per 1000ft will give you more time to get organised, set 7700, make radio calls, stow away headsets, etc. You can fly at 8000ft for sure because that is the standard airliner cockpit altitude.
As great as it sounds I would not plan to do this trip. A challenging flight with the family single crew is as difficult as it gets.
This summer my family wanted to fly into a specific place for holidays. I think this is about the only flight this year I was really nervous about as the destination was in the mountains VFR only. And I have gained a few years of experience and I had a full IFR turbine plane available.
If possible on our plane we try to fly the family with a two person crew. That is much easier. One takes care of the family while the other one takes care of the fuel, luggage, landing fees etc.
In the past when I was younger a friend wanted to fly with is family to the Uk from Germany. So we did but much later on I realized with the small children in case of a ditching the chances of getting everybody out would have been minimal…
That kind of statement is not helpful. A wheel on your car may fall off “at any time”. You might get a heart attack “at any time”. If you’re driving your family on a highway at 100+ km/h, what measures have you taken to make sure that “nothing happens to the passengers” in such a case? Anything could happen “at any time”.
It’s not black or white usually. Safety in flying is about margins, to have some way out, if the situation for some odd reason should turn bad. Flying over open water in a SEP reduces those margins to exactly zero. You have no options but to ditch. Ditching may seem like a fun event to some I guess, but … I have worked in the North Sea, flying there in helicopters. It was with full rescue suit, and only after having had a course in getting out of a helicopter upside down in water. Ditching is a highly confusing event, and very deadly even for grown ups. However, MUCH more survivable with the right gear and training. A raft won’t do you any good when you are strapped inside the aircraft upside down.
How to reduce the risk:
How to increase the risk
I’m not talking about getting hit by lightning from blue sky kind of randomness. I’m talking about actually surviving an event that is perfectly survivable on dry land, but not so over open waters – not even remotely so without proper precautions.
One option I used already several times: ship your luggage with any logistics company. Saves weight and space in the aircraft.