I’ve spent the last few days looking over some WAC charts of the USA… I want to have a general idea of the trip to OSH before I go just to see how I can break it up. I don’t want to spend any more than about 2.5 hours in the plane on any one day and want to be well and truely parked up.. preferably in the hotel by mid-day. That will give us the afternoon to look around and the evening to plan the following day or maybe stay an extra day if we really feel like it.
That breaks it up into a 5 day trip which is great so then if we allow 7 we should be very comfortable and have an enjoyable trip.
The trip back will be a bit more fluid. At this stage I’m thinking southerly routing to get to OSH and Northerly to get home.
Also for all the planning I’ve been trying out various iPad apps. Many need subscriptions so I’m leaving that until October so I will only need to buy one yearly subscription for each app.
I also needed to arrange a DUATS account. I got that today but I think there is either something wrong with the Site or it has security to disallow using the site from overseas which I guess in understandable. I managed to get hold of CSC for that but DTC seem to be uncontactable.. no issue I guess.
The trim would be quite time consuming to disconnect and re-connect so I’ve added a joint in the middle.
That should mean I won’t need to remove any of the cabin seating or consoles..
Pretty simple mod but it all counts.
Also all the electronic cables have connectors except the main battery cables which will need to be removed.. shouldn’t be too much drama.
If I get my plane up to Chino successfully and then spend the next 4 weeks putting it together there will be a huge opportunity lost. I simply won’t be able to afford a huge amount of time putting it together and pulling it apart again.
So I’ve embarked on a plan to make it as ‘plug and play’ as I can.
So far I’ve re-wired pretty much anything forward of the firewall to reroute it through a mil-spec circular connector. Hopefully this will save a significant amount of time just snapping the connector in and the engine sensors are up and running.
One man’s junk..
Bryn (hangar next to mine) had just imported a small plane from France which came packed in this crate inside a 20’ container. I figured I need wood so I asked him and he gave it to me. In the process of breaking it down and chatting with him it became apparent I have another hurdle. The wood used for packing is required to be heat treated and certified. Along with this I would need paperwork. I kept the small bits with the stamps proving heat treatment but as for the paperwork? Something else to check on !
Good news though.. I got an email back from sidelifters in CA and they can move my container even though they do get backed up… whew.. a load off my mind
P39 Airacobra… AWESOME!!
I thought this one would be tricky but with a quick email to Duane in the USA he told me that it is common to purchase fuel with a Visa card since so much choice made a single company’s fuel card impractical. Added to this, some companies give a small discount for using Visa.. even better..
Box ticked.. move on!
So the time had come to go to the USA and test the ground for what was to come. Vicki and I had just had our 10th wedding anniversary and she had the need to shop so it was a perfect time to hit the USA.
While Vicki shopped, I hit Chino.
I briefly met up with Ray Hecker, who was busy flying on a young eagles weekend.
WOW, there are some great aviation sites to be seen at that airport. I spent most of the day visiting aeroplane museums but did get an idea of where things were and how my whole adventure might play out.
I also had a meeting with the Riverside FAA FSDO reps. Expecting to just waltz into the building, I was a bit surprised at the security required to get in to what appears to be a fairly unassuming building. Once in though the guys were great, I had been put off balance a little bit by the security but these guys were very friendly and genuinely keen to help me through the process. So it appeared that what would happen was that I would need to show them the Falco in the container, this is just to check for no shipping damage. Then they will return when it is together and ready to fly. They then give me a test area over a lake to “shake down” the machine. According to John who said “we aren’t going to kill you with this” it would just be an hour or so. Then I get a “program Letter” which releases me to go flying in the USA to go to Oshkosh etc. The program letter is reasonably specific on destinations but that is fine with me since Oshkosh is my main one.
After my meeting with Ray I had come to the realization that nobody was going to help and I needed to get on with some of the organisation myself, so while I was waiting for my return flight I hit the net. What I found was pure delight.
In San Francisco area there is an Expat Kiwi who has started up a swing lift trucking company called Kiwi Container Lifting. OK that is in SFO but on his site he also had a couple of links for a few other small companies doing the same thing and one quoting LA. Great.. that is a huge relief and now the process begins to get a whole lot simpler.
What a great trip !
John & Martha
So with a quick look at the US terminal charts it became fairly clear that I had some learning to do. The layout is quite different from ours and there are lots of coloured lines and shaded areas that made no sense at all to me. Clearly I would need to get this sorted out before taking on such a mission.
So I went back to the internet and ordered some training videos from the people that arguably have made the most impact on pilot training in the USA, John and Martha King.
The videos at first appear a little cheesy but you quickly fit into their relaxed style and compared to most learning I’ve ever done I would say they are the most easy to understand, well paced and enjoyable training systems I’ve ever used.
I didn’t anticipate actually having fun but these made the whole exercise a lot of fun. So much so I’m going to get more. Some of the stuff is fairly basic but its so enjoyable that its fun to have a look back at the basics again.
Step one of the ‘Get the plane ready’ steps was to update the GPS. Truth is that I was going to do this anyway but since the last one was starting to become difficult to get data for, I updated it for a true panel mount aircraft GPS. Here it is mounted in my plane. I haven’t really tried it out much yet but it is step one.
When I go to the USA I can buy USA map data over the internet and load it in via the data card.
Looks pretty cool huh?
It has been a time of frustration to some degree. It was important to find the correct place to send the machine to. I really wanted an airfield that:
1 wasn’t too far from Long Beach port.
2 preferably East of Long beach.
3 was big enough to have services and storage.
4 has accommodation and rental cars nearby along with public transport for later on.
5 has a good EAA chapter for assistance
After struggling with a few places and their contacts, I decided to try a few Falco builders.. I was almost resigned to going to plan B using San Francisco as the entry point (port of Oakland).
I tried Dan Dorr.. he a pilot with Southwest. He’s obviously a busy man. He offered a few suggestions but he is in the SFO area which isn’t my first choice mainly due to Air NZ not flying there as often as LAX.
Then I tried Ray Hecker. He arranges the West Coast fly-in each year. He bought a pre-loved Falco and he is a super keen Falcoholic. I couldn’t have asked for more. overnight I got three info packed emails with lots of helpful advise. He is based at Chino in LA and suggested I launch from there. With help like that I couldn’t say no. I was excited again!
AND.. We’ve got a cat called Cino (pronounced Chino) so I have to.. right?
Well today I had a rude shock !
I thought I’d contact my shipping people just to keep in touch.
The photo above is boring right? Just a picture of a truck with a swing lift. You see them all the time right? Well if you live in the USA this may as well be a time machine because they don’t have them. Eh? Yup.. no such thing up there. If you want to get your cantainer off the back of the truck and onto the ground there are 2 options. 1- you can’t ! or 2- you balance the bloody thing on a huge forklift. YIKES! eh? imagine that.. a 40’ container balancing on a forklift.
What this basically means is that I need to either be in the USA and find a loading bay where I unload the aeroplane from the container while the truckdriver waits ( this apparently is the common method ! – what a mega pain!) or I find somewhere that has a gargantuan forklift that can do the job I need. Both methods are a bloody pain in the rear!
Crikey.. about time the USA learnt a thing or two from us Kiwi’s !