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  #1  
Old 05-14-10, 12:46 AM
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Bermuda?

Has anyone flown a Skymaster to Bermuda? In the normally aspirated plane it looks like about three hours past the NC Outer Banks. Seems reasonable with 6 hours of gas.
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  #2  
Old 05-14-10, 11:52 AM
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I fly mostly over water, mostly in the Caribbean and sometimes on very long flights. Yet, I would not chance your 6 hour trip.

Are you sure there is no avgas? The airport's web page for general aviation (http://www.bermudaairport.aero/pages...laviation.aspx) says there is one FBO and various phone numbers, including two for Esso fuel: (441) 505-9314 or (441) 293-1953.

The other alternative, assuming you have a very flexible schedule, is to wait for a winds-aloft forecast calling for strong west winds followed by strong east winds 4 or 5 days later.

When I travel over water I always make especially careful preparations. My "backup" Skymaster website (www.skymasterus.com) has a whole page on this, covering far more than its title of "Ditching: How to Avoid & Prepare". And in "Weather Websites" you will find an extraordinarily useful U.S. Navy website all the way at the bottom, providing wind, rain and seas forecasts for 7 days.

Ernie
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Old 05-14-10, 12:33 PM
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Thanks Ernie.

I knew I could benefit from others' experience on this issue: I ASSUMED there would be avgas in Bermuda and I would have a 3 hour reserve, but after reading your post, I realize avgas is not certain to be on the island its immediate availability should be a big part of my trip planning.

Will I need any special radios for the trip? Does anyone know if XM weather coverage goes that far? Are there any problems with relying on the 530 and 396 for navigation?
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Old 05-14-10, 02:04 PM
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If there's avgas, then this is a piece of cake of a trip in a twin -- provided you follow the proper precautions as set forth in my Ditching page.

Don't know about the radios (my guess is not).

Based on how far it extends over the Caribbean, I would guess XM Weather does not reach all the way out, but call the FBO and they should know. But who cares? You DON'T want to make this trip in anything other than severe clear, especially if it's the first trip of this type for you. And the navigation/GPS part of the 530 and 396 should work fine.

Sounds like an AWESOME trip! Need an additional pilot with lots of over-water experience?

Ernie
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Old 05-14-10, 02:45 PM
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I looked over the recommendations on Ernie's web site, and they're comprehensive and excellent. The only thing I'd add is to give the family (or other passengers) a thorough briefing on what to expect, and detailed instruction on their expected actions - what to do as well as what not to do.

On our low-altitude overwater aerial surveys, I hold a complete ditch briefing before every flight, even though the crew compliment changes very little. I break our procedure into three phases:

1. Preparatory - formally announced by "Prepare to ditch."
2. Landing - announced by "Brace, Brace, Brace" at 100' (yelled loudly,
since headphones should be off at that point)
3. In Water - where everyone has a prior-assigned exit (if useable), and
is responsible for a piece of survival gear to take out with them.

Another thing we stress (Ernie hit it) is not to get hung up inside the cabin trying to help someone who may be disabled - maybe a big thing when a family member is involved. The drill is to get yourself out with the gear you're responsible for, then render assistance from outside the airplane.

Re radios, I concur with Ernie's recommendations - the marine radio could be especially important. Many years ago, I took a flight of Navy fighters from Norfolk to Bermuda and we were out of comm (UHF) range for close to an hour; VHF coverage may be much better now. If not, I wouldn't think it's worth getting wrapped up in HF comms. You can rent a satphone as a good backup for a not-unreasonable rate.

I agree - it sounds like a fun trip, and Bermuda is a beautiful place!

Ahab
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Old 05-14-10, 04:10 PM
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I agree about the briefing, and I've modified the Ditching page to include it.

Ernie
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Old 05-14-10, 06:25 PM
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Flying to Bermuda takes very careful preflight planning. Recheck your distance, it is further than 3 hours in a Skymaster.

You also need to figure "point of no return", the point along the route you make the decision to continue to Bermuda or turn around and return to the mainland in the event of a problem. Depending upon winds it's not necessarily at the half way point.
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Old 05-15-10, 12:30 AM
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572 nm from Billy Mitchell, so it is more like 3:45. That leaves 2:15 reserve with standard tanks and puts the point of no return that much closer. It had been a while since I checked the numbers and my memory was optimistic.

That feels a little different than 3 out of 6.
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Old 05-15-10, 01:12 AM
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If you have confidence in your aircraft and take the proper precautions, it's still a piece of cake. Go for it.

Ernie
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Old 05-15-10, 09:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhurt View Post
572 nm from Billy Mitchell, so it is more like 3:45. That leaves 2:15 reserve with standard tanks and puts the point of no return that much closer. It had been a while since I checked the numbers and my memory was optimistic.

That feels a little different than 3 out of 6.
And that's no wind. Place the proper contingencies for wind change and now the equation get's tighter. The PNR can get dicey if not computed correctly. For extended overwater trips you must continually be monitoring your conditions and updating contingencies as needed.

Also remember you will be out of VHF range for communications.

The Bermuda trip is interesting because there is nothing between here and there, so no diversion points. Even when I was flying for the airline we had special considerations for flying out to Bermuda.
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Old 05-15-10, 10:10 AM
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Bermuda

Back in the 1970's I did a few Bermuda trips as co-pilot on the B727. Back then we used the ADF off of ACK then there was a dead area both nav and comm until we could pick up something at Bermuda. As I recall we carried enough fuel for the trip plus enough to return to the main land in the event that we could not land be it wx or runway closure. Gosh how did we do it without Loran or GPS!
Guy, the old 72 driver....
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Old 05-15-10, 11:21 AM
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For those concerned about this Bermuda trip -- 4 hours on a twin, in sunny weather, with GPS and 2 hours of fuel margin -- ask yourself if you'd rather be flying at night on a single over mountainous terrain, something which people do all the time.

Given the twin engines over water, a ditching is hugely unlikely, but if I have to ditch I like the stats that ditching has ~ 95% survival rate. Maybe it's because I'm constantly flying over water, but I'd much rather do the Bermuda trip than fly a single at night over the Rockies.

Ernie
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Old 05-15-10, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernie Martin View Post
For those concerned about this Bermuda trip -- 4 hours on a twin, in sunny weather, with GPS and 2 hours of fuel margin -- ask yourself if you'd rather be flying at night on a single over mountainous terrain, something which people do all the time.

Given the twin engines over water, a ditching is hugely unlikely, but if I have to ditch I like the stats that ditching has ~ 95% survival rate. Maybe it's because I'm constantly flying over water, but I'd much rather do the Bermuda trip than fly a single at night over the Rockies.

Ernie
You are use to flying throughout the Bahamas which has many landing points usually within 30 minutes or so of most routes and you're usually never out of site of land. What makes Bermuda "different" is it's almost 600 miles of open water with no diversion points, lack of VHF communications for a huge part of the trip. It takes due diligence to plan and execute a trip like this.
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Old 05-15-10, 05:40 PM
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Agreed, but I'd still prefer that to flying a single at night in mountainous terrain. Also, VHF comm isn't that bad. Aside from the number of airlines that overfly that part of the Atlantic to/from Europe (see one track in the image below), at 10,000 feet you should be in contact with aircraft flying over land at all times. Here's why: an aircraft out of JFK headed to Florida at 30,000 ft will have good VHF comm (line-of-sight) with you for 386 miles and then when you're 218 miles from Bermuda you will have the same good VHF comm (line-of-sight) with any aircraft flying over Bermuda at 3,000 ft.

Ernie
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  #15  
Old 05-15-10, 06:38 PM
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"It takes due diligence to plan and execute a trip like this."

Absolutely, and I think that's what we're all saying...even if we're talking past each other a little. I think if he equips the airplane properly, plans the route carefully, briefs the family and/or passengers on what to expect and ditch procedures, goes feet wet from the east coast with a full load of fuel and good weather forecasts (and BDA NOTAMS checked!), it should be a walk in the park.

I'd lay out a GPS track with :30 min user-defined waypoints, plus the calculated PNR on it. Prudence would also suggest maintaining a DR plot on a North Atlantic chart and comparing the fixes at each waypoint (you can tell I'm old school!). Recheck the wx and airport status just prior to the PNR and if all's well, press on.

I would give fair warning that if you haven't done it before, it can be a bit of a 'lonely' somewhat intimidating feeling sitting out there with nothing around - a good reason for having something to do - like navigate! Bottom line: I'd be just as comfortable, probably more, trucking out to Bermuda at 10K as I am a hundred miles offshore at 700' on a survey track.

Due diligence, and Bon Voyage-
Ahab
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