Epic World Tour Day 5


After a wonderful breakfast overlooking the beautiful english countryside, skipped, because I slept in, the Epic crew and I manned our aircraft and departed for Italy. I was once again impressed with the Epic’s speed when we crossed the French coastline only 30 minutes after departure. The weather guessers had warned us of a line of thunderstorms and possible icing over the Alps so we all had our war faces on and were ready for battle. While we’d been looking at the radar during our morning brief we’d discussed the possibility of diverting east of the storms but seeing that it would add at least an hour to our flight time no one wanted to do that. It also might have something to do with the fact that we were heading to sunny Italy and had lunch reservations at some high class restaurant on the water that nobody wanted to miss.

The reported tops of he thunderstorms were 28,000 feet, which was our assigned flight level so we were expecting either a smooth ride or lots of bumps. My plane was in the number two position today and after number one reported deviating around a large build up I knew we were in for a rough ride. Of course I was wrong. By the time we got to where the big storm ahead of me was supposed to be, it had been blown down wind and we had a smooth ride and sunshine all the way down to the Med. Gotta love it when a plan comes together.

I could go on and on about how beautiful Portofineo Italy is but I’ll let my pictures do the talking. It’s that whole thousand words thing you know.

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In case you didn’t know, flying around the world on an Epic World our is kind of a busy job so I hope you’ll excuse me when I get behind in my posting. So to keep you all off my back for another few hours here’s the link to the Epic LT company website where you will find more and better updates than a mere pilot can conjure up.

Check out the official trip information at epicaircraft.com for all the latest! And never mind if it looks like I’m about three days behind the trip in my posting. It’s because I am. Expect worse in russia!

Epic Flight Still South Bound

After fueling in Wick I moved into the right seat of a beautiful Epic LT owned by a Texas businessman who we’ve given the call sign “Tex” we’re nothing if not original. Our next stop was Chamberly England (EGLK) a small airport west of London and located in one of the busiest airspaces in the world. My job was going to running the radios and translating what the controllers say for Tex. I know, I know “don’t they speak english in England? Well, sort of. They speak english, not american. And when a controller is rattling off instructions a mile a minute (actually the Epic travels 5.41 miles a minute. But I digress) it can be very embarrassing to ask them to repeat what they said because you can’t understand their accent. The weather in southern England was forecast to be OK so I was looking forward to a nice relaxing flight. Busy but relaxing. Wrong. OK, sort of wrong. I’ve been through London’s airspace dozens of times and handling the radio traffic has always been challenging but fun but in the Epic LT you’re traveling so fast you don’t get much time to relax, let alone eat the tasty snack you snitched from the crew lounge in Wick. But it was still lots of fun and Tex had a blast. We landed in Chamberly and were taken to the Four Seasons Hotel, a gorgeous hotel and property that was the site where Henry the Eight’s brother met his wife who later became Henry’s first wife after his brother died, or something like that. Another awesome day of flying in the books.


Well That Was Fun II

So when I left off I was kneeling in-between the pilot and co-pilot of an Epic LT while they were doing a missed approach during bad weather in Wick Scotland desperately trying to keep my mouth shut and not tell them what to do. We blasted back up away from the runway and the controller said to prepare for an immediate return for an approach to runway 13. Now normally a pilot will take a few minutes to pull up the approach plate (chart) study it, set up the frequencies, dial in the approach on the auto pilot, and make sure he’s ready for it. Having a controller switch runways on you like that is crazy. As we banked away from the airport I looked back and could see the runway in a break in the clouds. “Runway in sight! Ask for a quick visual approach!” I’d managed to hold my tongue for almost ten minutes, a new personal best. The owner steepened his bank, cranked the big Epic around, dove through the crack in the thick clouds, and put her on the runway. Nice.

After we landed the next plane in our group shot the approach but was forced to go missed due to low clouds. Then the rest of the group showed up and were stacked up every thousand feet in a holding pattern over the runway while the plane tried to land a second time. 35 minutes later the last of our Epics were on the runway after another of our planes was forced to go around when a VFR plane landed ahead of him but didn’t clear the runway in time. Why was a VFR plane landing in such horrible conditions you ask? Because the Europeans charge huge fees to fly IFR and some guys just fly in the clouds and lie. The whole thing was kind of a cluster but we managed to get everybody on the ground and didn’t bend any airplanes. Twenty minutes after the last plane was on the ground the first one was back in the air and on the way to England.

Well, That Was Fun

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 4.22.31 AMI finally have a day off and some sort of internet, (I thought Europe was supposed to have great internet?) so here’s the latest update from the road.

We left Greenland with 6 Epic LT’s in loose trail about 15 minutes apart. The weather along the route was as nice as it has been for the whole trip. No ice, no bumps, no problems. I should’ve known that we’d get tested sooner or later. We were on the way to Wick Scotland to drop off our survival suits and rafts and re-fuel before heading down to England. The forecast wasn’t too bad for the time of our arrival, broken to overcast clouds at 600 feet and moderate visibility. There was a chance of lower conditions but what were the odds of that happening? The first plane landed and reported that the clouds down to about 400 feet and thick. That got our attention because the minimums for the approach were 460 feet. Our turn next.

I was stuck in the back of the plane on this leg because I’ve been hired to help some of the lesser experienced owners make the crossing and there was no sense in me hogging a seat when most of these guys haven’t made an ocean crossing before. My job was to sit in the back and keep the guys out of trouble and I can do that in the back just as well as I can from the front, most of the time. The owner of the plane I was in was flying this leg. He’s a relatively new pilot with just 500 hours total time and only 150 in airplanes, the rest of his time is in helicopters. But despite his lack of experience he’s a pretty good pilot, and a wiz with the glass cockpit. Sitting up front with him was an instructor from the Epic company making his first trans-Atlantic trip as well. They have both been doing well on the trip so far so I wasn’t too worried but I was still in-between their seats looking over their shoulders and monitoring their progress. It’s that old “trust but verify” thing. I was also trying really really hard to keep my mouth shut and not tell them how to fly and as anybody who’s ever flown with me can attest, I’m not really very good at that.

We set up for shooting the VOR approach on runway 31. A VOR approach is a non-precision approach that provides no glide slope information so it really just tells you where the runway is not if you’re going to run into anything on the way there. We were in heavy rain and clouds on final approach when the co-pilot called out runway in sight. I looked over his and could barely make out the approach lights for the runway through the mist and rain. The owner was a little high (but legal. I would’ve been lower and not so legal) and a little fast but I wasn’t worried because the runway at Wick was almost 6000 feet long. As we got a little closer and lower the runway appeared and something looked wrong. Three quarters of the way down the runway there was a red and white barrier across the runway with construction equipment on the other side cutting the usable amount of runway down considerably. I looked at our speed and height above the runway and knew there was no way we could land and get stopped in time. The co-pilot and the tower concurred because they  both said “go around go around!” The pilot slapped the gear up and poured the coals to it.

To be continued.

Epic Trip Update


OK everyone, as you can guess I’ve been busy. The following post was written in flight while I was supposed to be doing that pilot shit so please excuse the poor everything. I was going to clean it up and add photos but who am I kidding? I’m just lucky to have time to post anything. It’s currently 3:00 am in Iceland and I’m flying in the morning so you get what you get.


By the end of day one I beginning to get a good sense of how this trip was going to go. After only flying for a little under three hours we got the red carpet treatment at the Pratt and Whitney factory, that’s right I got a hat. Then when I checked into the five star hotel in downtown Montreal I didn’t have to give them a credit card because I was told that everything was covered. Hello minibar! Then it off to a fancy French restaurant for an amazing dinner. This trip is shaping up nicely with short flying days and five star treatment. Now of course no night with Pete Zaccagnino is ever boring so instead of going back to the hotel after dinner to get a good nights sleep Pete “dragged” me out to a bar where a buddy of his was having his bachelor party. I’m not saying that we stayed out too late but the next morning one of the younger pilots on the trip commented on how he couldn’t understand how us old guys could function on such little sleep.
I guess I can fill you all in on a few more details about our trip now. What I’ve
Been hired to do is lend my world traveling expertise in assisting the owners of six amazing airplanes fly them around the world. It’s quite a large crew (27 people!) so half of the challenge is going to herding cats. I can’t tell you what kind of aircraft we are flying but they are all the same kind of plane and they are fast as hell and damn sexy to boot!
We’re heading to Goose Bay and on to Narsarsuaq today so I’ll give you all another report soon.
The gas and go stop at Goose Bay was remarkably fast considering we had six planes or fuel and 27 people to feed. Luckily our wonderful trip organizer Gale had us covered with a box of subway sandwiches waiting for us so it wasn’t a complete cluster. After that it was feet wet over the Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea and east bound to Narsarsuaq Greenland. Now normally this 675 nautical mile leg takes me well over 4 or 5 hours depending on what I’m flying
but we made this ocean crossing in just 2 hours and 12 minutes. Did I mention that I just freaking LOVE this plane!? Well I do. It is just the most fantastic super shit hot incredible flying machine I’ve ever gotten my mitts on. So yeah, I dig it.

But even the best plane can bite you if not careful. As we were approaching Narsarsuaq my co-pilot who was flying this leg requested a descent out of 27,000 feet a little late so of course Sonderstrom radio delayed our request a few minutes putting us in a little bit of a bind because while we were waiting for permission to descend we were still smoking along at 360 knots and chewing up miles at a horrendous rate. I know, I know, I don’t usually refer to a high ground speed as “ horrendous” but when you’re quickly approaching the runway you want to land on and you’re still at 27,000 feet high speed can be somewhat of a problem. When we finally received permission to head down we were almost on top of the airport. So it was time to see just how fast this baby can come down. Turns out, pretty damn fast indeed. If you think descending at 7000 feet per minute is fun you’re right. And it’s also kind of fun to corkscrew down into an iceberg filled fjord. Just kind of. Crises averted we cranked in a steep bank to final and put her down on the up-sloping runway and put another ocean leg in the books.

We didn’t get to stay in a five star hotel in Narsarsuaq (because the only hotel is clean but not fancy) but we did get to take a boat ride after dinner. And what a boat ride! We were taken up the fjord into an area packed with icebergs of all sizes. The ice is calved off the glaciers flowing off the ice cap and is a brilliant blue due to it’s being thousands of years old some other science that I’ve forgotten. We pulled some ice onboard to mix in our drinks and then took a stroll on a large iceberg to toast the sunset. It was pretty nice I must say. After that we went back to the hotel bar and had an impromptu jam session with an Inuit band that was touring Greenland. It was a hell of a day.

Here I Go Again!

OK folks here comes the trip you’ve all been waiting for! Well, the trip I’ve been waiting for because someone didn’t bother to post anything on his blog for the last century and we all know who’s fault that is don’t we? Anyway I’ve finally started the trip of a lifetime and took off in a small plane in an attempt to fly around the world! Hmm, maybe the word attempt isn’t very appropriate, let’s just say that I’m flying around the world and leave it at that. There are a few things about this trip that will have to remain secret for the time being but in a few short days everything will be made clear. So for now you’ll just have to be satisfied with the small scraps of information I’m allowed to give you. And like it!

We left from Oshkosh Wisconsin this morning ahead of a nasty line of thunderstorms that had me a little concerned. I needn’t have worried, in 17 minutes we were level at 27,000 and cruising along at a comfortable 360 knots ground speed. And for those of you who are wondering if 360 knots is fast, yes, yes it is. Our first stop was Montreal, where we got lunch, a tour of the factory, and a nice hat. I like the hat. Nuff said. Then they whisked us off to a 5 star hotel where I’m currently sitting drinking mini bar beer and waiting to the nights sponsored dinner then off to a Jazz fest. I’ll let you know if anything interesting happens. Tomorrow it’s off to Goose Bay to fuel up and pick up survival gear and then it’s once again off to conquer the north Atlantic. Wish me luck!