Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Singapore By Bonanza


Flying a Bonanza to Singapore offers an education in “managing” thunderstorms


x-countryHe was a regular reader of this space and he called a while back wondering if I’d be interested in ferrying his pristine A36TC Bonanza from El Monte, Calif., to Singapore. Gee, lemme think about that for 30 seconds.
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BIG PUFFIES IN THE SKY. Because Singapore is in the “dreaded ITCH” and almost on the equator, flying to the city-state typically entails dodging thunderstorms.

He was a regular reader of this space and he called a while back wondering if I’d be interested in ferrying his pristine A36TC Bonanza from El Monte, Calif., to Singapore. Gee, lemme think about that for 30 seconds.

Owner Barry Andrews worked for Unocal and was being transferred from Southern California to the Malaysian city-state to run the oil company’s China Sea exploration project. Unocal had agreed to have Andrews’ airplane ferried across the Pacific, and after some negotiations, I became the designated hitter.

At the time, Majuro and Guam were out of avgas, so the only available route was far south through northern Australia. After the obligatory stop in Hawaii, the plan was to fly 1,150 nm straight south to Christmas Island, Kiribati, and then another 1,250 nm southwest to Pago Pago, American Samoa. From there, the course shifted more westerly 1,730 nm to Honiara, Solomon Islands, followed by a similar leg due west across Papua New Guinea to Darwin, Australia.

The final leg was 1,830 nm northwest up the Indonesian chain, above Bali, Jakarta and Palembang to Seletar Airport, Singapore. This detour effectively turned what would otherwise have been an easy 8,000 nm trip into a 10,000 nm odyssey.

Despite what so many pilots believe from watching the Discovery Channel, flying the Pacific isn’t just bikinis and suntans. The Pacific islands themselves aren’t so bad; it’s all those large, wet spaces in between that are the problem. It’s some of the most boring flying in the world—at least, you hope so.





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