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Buying a 60 year old airframe in the USA and flying it back to the UK

I admire the (financial) courage to buy something in the US, the NAT ferry seems to be the fun & the easy part

Last Edited by Ibra at 20 Apr 07:18
Paris/Essex, France/UK, United Kingdom

In the K35, the fuel amount returned to the left hand main tank is much higher than 3-4 GPH.

I I did this flight alone, I would DEFINITELY carry at least a turtle pack for safety. As you say, a lot of things can happen enroute, and knowing you have a few more hours of fuel with you in the cabin is worth a lot, in particular if your fuel system only holds 63 gallons.

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

If you like V Tail Bonanza’s you should watch the last 5 mins of ‘Born to be Bad’ 1950 film, this one would have been new at the time

Have a good trip getting the aircraft back and if you want a pile of old ABS mags (American Bonanza Society) please let me know.

United Kingdom

@boscomantico you are right the POH says 10 USGPH returned. Will play with spread sheet, but the placard on the fuel selector will say use 10 USG on the left main first, then AUX second. Which implies the left main will be full again when you have used the 19 usg AUX. You then use another 10 USG or possibly more, before switching to the right main.

Now the A33 might be slightly more sophisticated than the K35. The fuel return lines go back to the main fuel cells that are selected, and only in the case of the AUX tank does the fuel return line go to the left main only. The earlier Bonanzas all returned fuel from all selected fuel cells to only the left main

@GRIFF will look it up, thank you.

Currently waiting for the insurance quotes.

Last Edited by RobertL18C at 20 Apr 17:28
Oxford (EGTK), United Kingdom

You can get drums of AvgAs shipped to Sondre Stromfjord and even Kulusuuk ahead of your arrival, but it’s not cheap. But I’ve heard of a few who have done that.

@AdamFrisch I plan to hook up with an RV-8 and a C182 in Montreal and make the crossing with them. Will also have TurtlePac 25 USG seat drum in the event I have to divert to an airport without AvGas.

My spares kit will be a couple of boxes of oil, inner tube, tyre, pump, a couple of spark plugs, tools.

My emergency kit will be a two person raft, life vest, grab bag, emergency VHF, PLB, Garmin inReach, kayak suit, water, food bars.

Insurance quotes came in and reasonable for the aircraft itself, but somewhat eye watering for the actual North Atlantic crossing.

Now figuring out the escrow process with the Trustee. The insurance cover in North America has the trustee as policy holder, but in Europe, and for the crossing, my company is named insured.

Have been using John Eckalbar’s equations to figure out what might be the improvement in speed, or reduction in power required, compared to the Bonanza G33. This has the IO-470N engine and is a Bonanza with a Piper tail, but performance charts are at 3300lbs, compared to the expected cruise weight of the A33 of around 2750 lbs. The G33 has the M35 wing tips which provide slightly better aspect ratio (around 3 square feet more of wing). But using Eckalbar’s formulae, the A33 either will use 93% of the G33 HP to achieve the same speed, or at the same HP cruise around 4 knots faster. In theory 160 KTAS at 11.5 USGPH, or 65%. This version has the speed slope and cowl flaps mods, so arguably has the same airframe clean up features over the original Debonair, as the G33. The original Debonair had fixed cowl flaps half open, and old style windscreen. Typically owners of the 225 HP original Debonair plan to cruise around 145 KTAS on 11.5 USGPH. Book 65% at 6,000 feet is 148 KTAS. No doubt the truth is somewhere in between, and 150 KTAS and 12 USGPH may be a likelihood.

Oxford (EGTK), United Kingdom

Hopefully Monday escrow is set up. Probably needs a legal style list of parties, but figuring it out. The company that will own it will be the named insured on the USA policy with the Trustee additional insured, using the Trustee’s USA address.

I worried the usual 100 hour ADs on the type (up roller tension, visual inspections) would need a refresh, but it has 70 hours to the next 100 hour cycle.

Drilling down on the ferry cost (special cover insurance, air fare out, fuel, hotels, logistics, emergency equipment) I estimate not a lot of change from $20k.

A modern F33A would cost around 75% to 150% above this example. I will do a pro and con on this trade off in due course. This is a priori based on not yet owning and operating a 60 year old complex type!

My main rationale is that as the type developed the empty weight increased, and in certain areas the airframe got beefed up. Also CG envelope made some later examples three person aircraft. This 1961 has an empty weight/HP ratio of 7.1 lbs/HP, with a useful load of 1150 lbs and a healthy CG empty. In effect the earlier example is a four person, some baggage, full fuel aircraft. A modern F33A comes in around 500 to 600 pounds heavier, or around 8.5 lbs/HP, and around 1,000 lbs plus useful load. A tip tank STC or a Continental IO-550 gives a boost to MAUM to a F33A, but takes the type out of the Utility category.

Oxford (EGTK), United Kingdom

Advantages of an F33A over the early Debonair makes for quite a long list.

Post 1972 most were built with zinc chromate corrosion proofing
Modern, simpler fuel system with two 37USG useable main tanks
Cargo baggage door and extended baggage
Post 1978 28V electric system
Post 1981 no recurring forward spar inspection AD
Continental IO-520-BB 285 HP
Better ventilation and more modern seats, more options to adjust seats
Modern panel layout, and usually more up to date avionics
Better panel lighting
Beefed up structure with higher Vfe and Vlo (122 knots vs 104 knots, and 152 knots vs 122 knots, respectively)
Larger third window
Emergency Bonanza window exit
Cowl flaps
M35 style stability wing tips
Speed slope windscreen
MAUM 3,400 lbs

So what might be the advantage of the earlier Debonair, apart from lower price?

Lighter empty weight at around 1850 to 1900 lbs vs 2250 to 2400 lbs
This translates to a slightly lower stall speed (gear and flaps down) of only a couple of knots (52 knots vs 54 knots) – given that they have the same wings one would expect a lower stall speed for the early Debonair of a couple more knots (3000/3400 square root times 54)
Most have some updates eg speed slope, cowl flaps, engine upgrade (precludes MoGas see below)
IO-470K can use MoGas and UL91
Lower fuel consumption at around 12 USGPH vs 14-15 USGPH, with 145-150 KTAS vs 165 -170KTAS trade off

At the end of the day the example I hope to close on has dry country history, upgrade and recent OH powerplant, full logs, speed slope, cowl flaps, ten year old paint. The closest example of an F33A with recent OH but needing an update of avionics, would cost around 100% more plus.

Oxford (EGTK), United Kingdom

Received a quote on the container option. Interestingly it is an approximate wash compared with the ferry flight, assuming the owner carries out the ferry flight. Not counting all the ancillaries due to disassembly and reassembly, customs agents, etc the container freight cost itself is around $14k from the west coast to the UK.

Oxford (EGTK), United Kingdom


Does it make a difference flying it to the east coast and shipping from there?

KUZA, United States
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