Phenom Trip, Day Three


The plan for the day was a quick flight from Darwin over the Timor sea and the Banda sea to Manado Indonesia for hopefully a quick fuel stop.  From there another quick fuel stop in Manila then on to Okinawa.   The flight started out great with scattered clouds sprinkled over the beautiful blue ocean.  The approach into Manado reminded me of why I ferry airplanes around the world, it was over a tropical paradise filled with coconut trees, grass huts and a dormant volcano with a halo of clouds. 

At Manado we ran into big problem number one for the trip.  The immigration officer was quite upset that we hadn’t called the required twenty four hours in advance to obtain a landing permit.   Marcio tried to explain that he had called over two days before and whoever he had talked to hadn’t mentioned anything about a landing permit.  The officer couldn’t seem to care less that we’d gotten bad information.  He then asked us where our handler was and when we told him that we didn’t have one he got even more upset.

  There are many challenges involved in ferry flying and although the actual act of flying a small aircraft over distances it was never designed for is hard enough sometimes the biggest headaches are on the ground.  After landing a pilot has to clear security, customs, immigration, pay landing fees and file a flight plan.  Of course it would be extremely helpful if one could accomplish all of these tasks in one place but more often than not each of these offices are scattered all over the airport and finding them is like some sort of scavenger hunt.  Once found said pilot must humble himself before the  petty government employee who’s kingdom he’s invaded and beg for service, woe be it to the high and mighty pilot who demands such service.  When I started ferry flying back in the 90’s there was no such thing as airport handlers, at least I’d never heard of such a thing, but lately they’ve become all the rage.   Airport handlers assist foreign pilots in jumping through all the bureaucratic hoops that are required to transit an airport and I must admit that having someone who speaks the language and knows where the restroom is can be quite handy.  At some airports hiring a handler is mandatory and apparently Manado was one of them.

    Marcio and I were escorted to the immigration office where the officer proceeded to tell us over and over that a twenty four hour notice is required. 

  US:  “We agree that we screwed up and what do we do now?”

  HIM:   “You must have a landing permit, it is the law.”

  US:  “Yes, we understand and we’re very sorry.  What do we do now?”

  HIM:   “Twenty four hours in advance, that is required,”

  US:   “Right, we get it, we’re very very sorry.  So what do we do now?”

  Him:  “The regulations state that in order to land you must advise the airport at least twenty  four hours prior.”

  US:  ………………

  We went round and round with guy until we finally figured out what is was that he wanted.  With one less Benjamin Franklin in the aircraft we were on our way to Manila.

                                                                                                                       Random Atoll



Ferry Flight Pic of The Day

Hurricane Katia

Sometimes when you get a weather briefing for a flight outside of the United States you have a hard time interpreting the vague and incomplete data.  Sometimes not so much.   Last summer Stu and I stopped in the Turks and Caicos for fuel while delivering a Beech Bonanza from North Carolina down to Brazil.  The FBO had wireless and Stu was able to pull up a satellite image on his i pad.   What we saw was sobering.  Hurricane Katia had sped up and turned west, threatening our intended flight path to St. Martin.  Our choice’s were take off and hope we could sneak around the hurricane and get to St. Martin unscathed, spend the night in the Turks and hope the hurricane didn’t hit the island and destroy the aircraft, or us, or take the advise of Sir Robin and RUN AWAY!  We were responsible for the Bonanza and the prudent thing to do might be to get the plane out of harm’s way.  In the end we decided to go for it, was there ever any doubt?  I made the call based on the fact that we had Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic as escape routs if we found a hurricane in our way.

      The decision being made we blasted off under a VFR flight plan because I didn’t want any delays that might come with filing an IFR flight plan.  The first half of the flight was great, smooth air and great visibility.  But ahead of us we could see the sky getting darker and darker, an ominous sign.  It wasn’t long before we flew into strong rain showers and moderate turbulence, we were hitting the edges of the hurricane and the conditions were getting worse.  Discretion being the better part of valor we altered course over San Juan and hooked around St. Croix to stay clear of the worst of the weather.  Clear of the Hurricane we were treated to a spectacular sunset.Just another day.   

Enthusiasts Call For More, Faster US Bombers

Enthusiasts Call For More, Faster US Bombers | AVIATION WEEK.

I recently read that the latest upgrades on the B-52 will extend it’s service life until 2040.  With the price tag of a new bomber fleet, especially one with supersonic capabilities,  higher than than anyone is willing to pay our air crews could someday be flying 100 year old airframes.  Personally I think drones and flying bombs make more sense than sending heavy bombers into heavily defended targets.  When you think about the cost of training air crews and maintaining them, i.e. pay, housing, medical costs and retirement it has to be cheaper to build flying bombs that can take off, or be launched, fly hundreds of miles and strike the target.  Why send bombers when you can just send the bombs? 

Phenom Trip Day Two, Across Austraila

Taking off on a trip of this magnitude is definitely not something to be taken lightly.  Proper planning is everything, make one mistake, miss one important item and it can cost you dearly.  A good ferry pilot  insures that he is well prepared with all the maps and approach charts for the route, spare parts and oil for the aircraft, landing and overflight permits filed and most importantly……snacks.  The choices you make at the grocery store before you take off can haunt you for thousands of miles, if you know what I mean.

Marcio and I left Sydney with three bags of salt and sugar, we told our wives it was fresh fruit and rice cakes,  and a case of good India Pale Ale on ice.  There is nothing like a clod beer after on the ramp after a long day’s work.  Our first planned stop was Mt. Isa in central Australia, Heart of the outback Mate!   But a one hundred knot headwind at thirty eight thousand feet caused us to make an unplanned stop in beautiful Longreach home of the…..of the…….well not much but it did look like there had been water there sometime in the last few years or so. 


Getting out of the Jet we were surprised to find that Longreach is home to the Qantas Air museum.  It had a Dc-3  747 and a few other old jets that I don’t remember.  I miss the days when they named airliners like name ships, the plane in the foreground is called the CITY OF CANBERRA  and the 747 is called THE SPIRIT OF……….., can’t remember.   You just never know what you’re going to find on one of these trips.The rest of the flight to Darwin was over some of the most beautiful and primordial looking countryside I’d ever seen.  I would dearly love to go back there someday with my family and go on a walkabout.  Getting into Darwin there were a few thunderstorms to dodge but being in the Phenom made it a non-issue.  When we landed it was still light out, a rare treat for a ferry pilot, we flew all the way across Australia in less than eight hours!  I could really get used to flying in jets, the same trip in a small single engine plane would’ve taken over thirteen.  

  After checking in to the hotel and having dinner Marcio and I wandered over to one of the local watering holes for to observe the Sheilas in their native environment.  Being a two young   old,  good looking  Haggard looking, single  married guys on the loose in Darwin you can only imagine what an epic night we had.

Day one, checking out the ship

When delivering an aircraft you’ve never seen before the first thing you do after giving it a thorough pre-flight is to take her out for a spin.  During the test flight you check all the systems on the plane, making sure that everything works as advertized.  You only have a short flight to decide weather or not if you’re going to trust that strange aircraft over the ocean.  You can also have a little fun during the test flight, have to ensure that the plane can do a proper wing-over if the need arises.  sometimes you can get in a little sight seeing as well.  When Marcio, my co-pilot for this trip, and I were done checking out the systems on the jet we took a pass inside Sydney harbor.  Sometimes this job is a little bit of alright.


Phenom 100 from Austraila

Phenom 100

Last fall I was hired to help ferry a Phenom 100 from Sydney to Las Vegas and finally got the chance to fly a jet.  The aircraft was beautiful and flying it was surprisingly easy.  It handled well, wasn’t too complicated and was above all FAST!  To be fair the Phenom isn’t considered to be particularly fast in the business jet world but when you’re used to prop speeds three hundred fifty knots is blazing across the sky.  The trip took six days and was one hell of an adventure.  In the coming days I’ll hit the high points, no pun intended, of the trip.


slomo on crack


The crack refers to the canyon although some may argue that it’s what the wing suit pilot must be smoking.  I started flying a wing suit about six or seven years ago and instantly became hooked.  Back in those days the BASE jumpers used their wing suits to get as far away from the cliff they jumped from as possible.  As the pilots, and yes we are pilots, we just fly the smallest aircraft there is, got more experience they started flying closer and closer to cliff faces.  Of course there were a few accidents, pioneers rarely go un-punished, but the result has been some  spectacular footage.  In the video above one of the balloons gets caught in the wing tip vortices, very cool.  I must confess that I have yet to make a BASE jump, there are no really high cliffs that are legal to jump from in the US. and I’m not jumping from anything lower that 2500 feet.  Now I know to non-jumpers, or Wuffos as we call them, that sounds bass-ackwards but in skydiving the higher you are the safer you are.  when you deploy your parachute at two thousand feet, the lowest altitude we normally pull at, if you have a malfunction you have time to cut away the bad chute and deploy your reserve.  Base jumpers pull so low that there isn’t time to cut away so they don’t even bother jumping with a reserve, you get one shot.  So for now BASE jumping is not for me.   Someday I’ll go to Norway and jump off the three thousand foot fjords  but until then I’ll have to be satisfied with jumping out of a plane and flying my wing suit among the clouds.