Sign in to follow this  
Mithras

Around the World Flight - In a Piper Aztec

Recommended Posts

For anyone interested in trying their hand at a round the world flight or two, but having no interest in biplanes (as my signature shows, I've had an interest in that area myself), the Alabeo Piper Aztec is now out. Some of you may remember that in the 60s and 70s the Aztec was flown by two daring/crazy pilots on incredible round the world flights that just beg to be recreated. 

 

Max Conrad flew around the equator in his, and then circumnavigated the earth from pole to pole, unfortunately he failed to take off from the South Pole in his little twin after he clipped the ice with his wing, and his Aztec was buried in the ice by the staff of the base, where it remains today. He set a lot of records and was a ferry pilot for Piper.   

 

http://www.soloflights.org/conrad_text_e.html

 

Sheila Scott flew a Comanche for a time, but she too, swapped this for Mithre, a Piper Aztec, with which she set her own long distance records, including a flight over the North Pole from equator to equator. To simply start the flight she had to fly solo from London to Nairobi. 

 

http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/scott_sheila.html

 

I'm certainly going to try one or more of these flights, the Alabeo Aztec is my new best friend, since it matches closely the layout of my homebuild cockpit, so I feel at home. The Aztec is old, reliable, well used and well loved, unlike the Beechcraft Duke which I tried to like, but its a real 'show off' plane built in small numbers and a rich man's toy. If I could buy a twin, its an old Aztec I could most likely afford. Since I purchased it my logbook shows that I have unbelievably flown it more hours than any of my A2A planes...

 

Inside and out it looks fantastic. It flies well too, though I cannot attest to its authenticity. The sounds are nice, but my Buttkicker chair vibration device just rattled and couldn't pick up many bass sounds from the soundset, so I have switched the engine sounds for those in the Milviz Baron. Lots of bass rumbles now. RealEngine 1.4 (freeware) gives me realistic failable engines that I have to watch carefully. Add Accusim for airflow, turbulence and all those squeaks and groans of an old Aztec and I am sorted. 

 

Finally, picked up an Aztec handbook from a UK web vendor, dated 1968. I was swapping emails with the site owner who told me that the book has an exotic history, it came from Nigeria, where the plane was registered in the 70s and 80s. Now that's perfect ... an old twin bush plane from Africa should be just what I need for a round the world trip! 

 

Bon Yoyage!! :)


One question ... what problems with FSX geography will I have when I try to fly over the poles? And will there be any ice pack in the north, or is it all open water?

 

I have Aerosoft's Antarctica, which does say in the manual that there is some kind of problem, and so Scott Base is not modelled.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

I have settled on recreating Sheila Scotts equator to equator flight of 1971, and my planning is almost finished. Sheila flew very long legs, always in excess of 10 hours, but I am going to stick with 2-3 hours so that I can fly every day after work - that's about 300 nm in my Aztec. Of course I will follow her course as closely as I can, but will have to make additional stops.

 

Sheila flew: Nairobi, Kartoum, Benghazi, Malta, London, Bodo Norway, Andoya Norway, Nord Greenland, over the Pole (slowed by low cloud, headwind and an unretracting nosewheel that almost killed her) to Barrow, Fairbanks, Anchorage, San Francisco, Honolulu to Canton Island just the other side of the Pacific equator. After that she flew back to London via Australia breaking additional speed records. She was forced to stop due to very bad weather at times, particulary just before the dangerous polar crossing, and at London where she found her flat had been burgled while she had been in the air.

 

Now my route is established (with extra stops in between) I intend to quickly check each runway out with the trike to ensure there are no trees on runways or horrible scenery or elevation issues, all of which would ruin a great flight.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The trickiest part will of course be the polar crossing, FSX struggles with this region, since like any 3D net, the flat map sections of the FSX world meet up and bunch together at the poles, causing strange optical effects. I have slewed there to to 90 degrees north to see what I should exoect, and it looks OK, not realistic, but ok.

 

I assume navigation will be my biggest problem. Sheila had to use dead reckoning, and sighted intermittently with an sun compass, yet managed to pass directly over the pole (NASA scientists were tracking her by satellite). Like her I don't think my compass will work at that latitude, instead I have tracked a course using GPS just for this leg, to take me over the pole, after which I will leave the magenta line behind and head for the Canadian coastline. All of my other navigation will be by VOR, NDB and by VFR map reading and dead reckoning. It is true to 1971 and is a much more exciting and 'active' way to navigate than slaving the autopilot to the GPS for hours.

 

On fuel and loading, whilst only flying for 2-3 hours at a stretch, I feel that I would be missing out on the Sheila Scott experience if I did NOT dangerously overload my Aztec, her extra fuel tanks took the place of the passenger seating. I will start my flights with maximum fuel and loading to simulate the difficulties she sometimes had in gaining height, particularly from airfields like Benghazi (where she almost ran into hills, and where, at the airfield that night she was assaulted and almost raped by locals- though she passes it over breezily in her account).

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That sounds like fun, Paul. Enjoy your flight. I don't think you need to worry about being attacked by locals though, so that's a relief! :LMAO:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 


I'm certainly going to try one or more of these flights

 

Wow, this is an AMAZING adventure you're embarking on my friend! 

 

Please keep us informed of your progress! Some screenshots or pictures of your cockpit along the journey as well might be very interesting.

 

 

 


and at London where she found her flat had been burgled while she had been in the air.

 

 

 


at the airfield that night she was assaulted and almost raped by locals

 

The world is an interesting place. You're out there fighting for your passion and life, come back home, and just find out it's been raped... 

Sadly, the biggest danger out there in the wild is other people.

 

 

 


I assume navigation will be my biggest problem.

 

How are you planning each leg?  Could you show us an example of an "interesting" one, once you've done it for sure?

 

 

 

I'm really amazed at how little attention this thread is getting!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Jaime, I plan legs using PlanG, and do this via VORs, but will make notes on the land features that I will be passing in order to check my progress.

 

The weirdest leg so far is the polar leg, with a straight line distance between Spitsbergen and Barrow, but look what PlanG has to do to try and deal with my impossible flight!!!

 

map1_zpslz4cokbj.jpg

 

I dontt have the endurance fly that complete leg, it took Sheila 17 hours in the air I think. So I will get to the pole, then divert to Alert in Canada, on the tip of that large island just to the west of Greenland.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting Paul.

 

I'm following this thread and await your further updates!

 

BTW, don't forget to add an essential item to your checklists, you have to take a couple of empty bottles like this one, hehehe:

aquarius-15-l.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get it! ;)

 

I read that Sheila used a Tupperware container and had to discretely empty it at each stop, but once a helpful ground attendant took it away to fill it with more sandwiches! :0

 

I'm finishing a book on the ancient Egyptian army tonight (after more than a year of writing), once it goes to the publisher tomorrow, I will start the flight from Nairobi! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

8:00 am Nairobi, the equator to equator flight, flying over the North Pole, began.

 

2016-4-26_17-7-13-715_zpsknzihd8b.png

 

At Jomo Kenyatta airport the rain came down in a tropical thunderstorm, but within 30 minutes I had flown up and out of it to 10,000’ (local elevation is 5,500’).  I flew the leg to Soroti in Uganda using dead reckoning rather than VORs, just to keep my skills up.  The highlight was a fast pass over Lake Nakuru, to see several large flocks of flamingos (courtesy of Aerosoft’s African Adventures).

 

2016-4-26_20-43-21-532_zps1mfwcjyf.png

 

I’m still unsure whether to use VOR navigation or dead reckoning, but in the spirit of 1971 I guess VORs should be used, with dead reckoning to check my track.

 

That was an easy flight once I had cleared the thunderstorm.  Sheila Scott says very little about her flight to Khartoum and Benghazi, but on the outbound trip TO Nairobi before the flight, she had to divert around restricted airspace to Idi Amin’s Uganda, not a safe place to turn up to uninvited. Like Sheila, I am sure a friendly British ATCO will have quietly ushered me to a quiet part of the airport so as not to attract attention.

 

Tomorrow a short hop to Juba. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tricky flying! Soroti in Uganda was under a thunderstorm today, but my motto, just like Sheila Scott's is to go for it! I was forced to fly around 500' QFE under the steel grey clouds, rain and lightning, trying to reach Juba in South Sudan.

 

I flew in a Twin Otter over the Masai Mara a couple of years ago, and the FTX Global captures East Africa superbly, lone Acacia, or groves dotted around. After an hour things went wrong. I have Real Engine 1.4 installed that produces failures for flaps, gear, CHT, oil temp, over revving and manifold pressure if you fly 'beyond the limits'. I heard an engine cough and die just east of Gulu (HUGU), then checked CHT, over temperature! I opened the cowl flaps, cut my speed, feathered the prop than waited until it cooled to restart. This was successful ... I looked at OAT and flying at 3-400' it was 28 degrees. No wonder the engine struggled!

 

2016-4-27_16-38-53-620_zpse4kaozl3.png

 

The storm was clearing, and I was looking for the White Nile to follow it to Juba 100 nm distant, I was able to climb a couple of thousand feet, caught the VOR set my heading bug to match but soon had to drop down to 200' when I hit more storm clouds. I lost the VOR too but was able to follow my heading bug instead. Lucky :) Of course I forgot to enrich the mixture as I descended and so RealEngine 1.4 made them rev and splutter too. Gulp. What a fool ...

 

I hit the White Nile, the VOR came alive and I sailed easily into Juba. Sheila says nothing about her visit to Juba. Juba is a tough place, plenty of old planes like DC3s and aircraft wrecked, shot up or in storage. There are military vehicles around too. Can't wait to leave tomorrow.

 

2016-4-27_18-22-46-274_zpsa33sbgbq.png

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm enjoying the stories very much while following your progress! :Applause:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks n4GIX ... I'm not making anything up, stuff happens on these very very very long flights, just as in RL!!

 

Today I flew north to Malakal in South Sudan, but rather than track due north following an outbound radial for 280 miles I opted to follow the White Nile northwards VFR for a more interesting flight, and I picked up Malakal's low level VOR at only 50 nm out from the airfield. The thunderstorms have abated and I could fly around scattered cloud at 9-10,000' no problem. At 38 degrees on the ground, it was still 18 degrees up at FL100!
 
Two shots of the White Nile, one exterior, the other from my (home pilot) view sat at my Aztec twin cockpit I built 18 months ago!
 
2016-4-28_17-16-19-885_zpsxwbof1zg.png
 
SAM_2377_zpsbniyud4q.jpg
 
My plan is to mirror Sheila Scott's flight, but with extra legs, getting to Khartoum, flying the Nile to Cairo, out across the desert to Benghazi then Malta and onto London, Norway and then the Pole. After Barrow I can relax and enjoy all that Orbx scenery down to San Francisco.
  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It took a couple of 2-and-a-half hour flights to get to Abu Simbel. Again I decided to hand fly, following the River Nile northwards rather than just flying straight, and level, with the autopilot. I like to use the AP only when I need to grab a drink, when I returned five minutes later, halfway to Khartoum, I found the sun was already on the horizon and a towering cliff of thunder clouds blocked my path ahead. It looked like I would have to drop down to a few hundred feet again, until I spotted a chink opening up and dashed through the lightning storm to the other side. It was here I found that Microsoft had left out a stretch of the Nile, although the landclass along its banks persisted and was easy to follow. The view was lovely, the russet orange sunset clung on to the edge of a dark blue sky and painted the lightning-licked clouds with purple.

 

2016-4-29_17-13-46-668_zpsoeqcoepf.png

 

I touched down at Khartoum without any incident. Lots of record breaking flyers pulled in here on their way to Capetown, including Sheila Scott and Amy Johnson. There were a couple of Antonov An12 ‘Cubs’ on the apron and a United Nations Hercules, as I taxied past (Ultimate Traffic 2). In the morning, with the OAT at 42 degrees C , I again followed the Nile northwards from Khartoum all the way to Lake Nasser and Abu Simbel, where an Egyptair Embraer was waiting at the threshold for a flight to Cairo.

 

My left fuel tanks are draining faster than my right tanks, and I don’t know why. That could get me into trouble on a longer leg …. Mmmm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 


under the steel grey clouds

 

Love it!  Hope you get the fuel tanks figured out!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My left fuel tanks are draining faster than my right tanks, and I don’t know why. That could get me into trouble on a longer leg …. Mmmm.

 

Don't know if this helps, but I saw it posted on another thread regarding fuel tank usage. Fire up FSX with the default Cessna and make sure the fuel tank selector is set to both. No idea if it helps with your particular aeroplane though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Mark, the Alabeo Aztec fuel system did work..I think I've done something to it ... read on:

 

Flying the length of Egypt is easy. Blue skies, no weather, no traffic, great visibility and a long river to follow as a landmark. I flew the length of Lake Nasser to over-fly Aswan.

 

2016-5-1_20-45-2-392_zpshr4b5sng.png

 

The Russian or High Dam is in the foreground and the British or Low Dam is in the background. Luxor was quiet, although my let fuel tanks were still draining faster than my right tanks, and I don’t want to rely on the crossfeed should my left tank dry up completely. I will look into it at Cairo. Sheila Scott was plagued by electrical problems on multiple instruments on an earlier round the world flight (the Air Race), and on the Polar flight her autopilot failed before the arctic leg leaving her to fly the Aztec manually for 17 hours!

 

Closing in on Cairo the wind picked up a little from the west and visibility began to shrink dramatically, I guess this was ASN replicating dust and sand. At one point viz was down to around 5 miles, but soon lifted again as I swung out wide over Sakkara and its pyramids. In the foreground the Step Pyramid – the world’s oldest stone large stone structure, and behind in the Bent Pyramid of Snefru and (I think) the Red Pyramid. These are all FSX default, and the pyramids at Dashur further south are also included in FSX!

 

2016-5-2_14-59-54-730_zps12ax7yzd.png

 

Touch down at Cairo was slightly ahead of sunset. I think my fuel problem might be down to the fuel selector I have in my home cockpit, it is a left tank/right tank selector used when I fly the A2A Cherokee and Skylane. Alabeo told me in an email that their tank selectors for the Aztec don’t respond to external FSUPC-style inputs but I’m wondering if they do. When I twist the lever I hear a ‘glug’ sound, but the VC fuel controls don’t move. And I’m sure I heard that ‘glug’ sound during a flight and I hadn’t touched the controls …. So, before the flight from Cairo to Benghazi, I will create an FSUIPC profile for the Cherokee and not have the selectors working on any aircraft by default. That should sort it :)

 

2016-5-2_15-23-46-259_zpsy3jcij1u.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My flight across the Libyan border to the small concrete airfield at Misheifa had its ups and downs! The wind was strong and southerly to begin with, blowing dust in to reduce visibility across Cairo airport significantly.

 

2016-5-3_17-51-20-91_zpsrte5s4lv.png

 

I abandoned a photo trip over the Giza pyramids and struck out for a VOR beacon on the coast, since pure dead reckoning across 300 nm of desert with a strong sidewind would have meant me missing the airfield – guaranteed. Passing the VOR sometime later, I flew the out ound radial that would take me to Misheifa. But the coast line didn’t look right or at least my angle to it, as it receded in the distance.

 

2016-5-3_19-35-36-263_zpsnzwgbria.png

 

I rechecked my flight plan, I had dialled in the wrong radial, and was aiming for a completely different airfield. Change of radial, new course and after avoiding a bird strike (set Thermal Updrafts to natural to see eagles and vultures in the thermals) landed at Mishefa. Ultimate Traffic happily put a few planes in here, including a DC-3, very appropriate!

 

The leg to Benghazi was less eventful, except for severe turbulence at 10,000’ forcing me down to 9,000’. Fixed the fuel tank problem, not by unassigning my home cockpit fuel selector, but by bringing up the default 172 before loading the Aztec. The tanks are draining symmetrically now! Next leg … Over the water to Luqqa, Malta. Busy skies!

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...but by bringing up the default 172 before loading the Aztec. The tanks are draining symmetrically now!...

 

Glad you found the solution! In a similar fashion, I sometimes have to bring up the stock 172 to make sure the fuel mixture is set to rich so that I can start the engines (jet) (CTRL-SHIFT-F4 is not sufficient sometimes). NOTE that this is on freeware aircraft in my "hangar"

 

Lovely shot of your plane above the condor/vulture/eagle/large bird!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the tip Mark, I think I can continue to save my flight now with no more ill effects, your advice was great!

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an update: we are having very nice weather in Yorkshire at the moment, which cuts my flying hours (I'm outside rather than indoors). But I've reached Paris after easy non-challenging flying across France. Next, Le Tourquet then Heathrow. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Flying up through France and Britain has been relaxing, non-challenging flying. I took the time to try out a new navigation system for my cockpit setup, it is a mini-iPad pretending to be a Garmin GPS (with the Garmin logo as the screensaver/wallpaper!) the software I run is iNavigator. A cheap and fabulous little app. I don't intend to use it for the rest of this trip, NDBs and VORs are fine with me for now. 

 

Leaving Orly, I flew over the centre of Paris to arrive at Heathrow amongst the big jets.

 

2016-5-17_21-26-15-552_zpsrq5ebcwl.png

 

2016-5-22_14-31-14-414_zpswznwpt5k.png

 

After tracking up the East Coast of England and Scotland I flew out from Wick (the North Atlantic ferry pilot's usual haunt) and out above the overcast to Norway and Bergen. Luckily there were a few gaps in the cloud layer that opened up as I reached the coast and I made a spiral descent down from 13,000' to 4,000 ready for the approach to Bergen. It was a busy airport, with plenty of regional jets parked up, and I followed a 737 down onto the runway. After a couple of flights to Spitsbegren, I will be making 'the BIG ONE'. 

 

2016-6-1_23-4-58-271_zpszdls1s4x.png

 

I find reading Scott's biography that I don't think I would have liked to meet her. I had the same feeling ready Amy Johnson's biography. Scott had a flighty youth, with lots of affairs and a failed marriage of convenience. She eventually got into heroine taking in the 1950s. She was and wanted to remain part of the 1950s jet-set. Flying seems to have replaced the drugs, and is probably typical of these long distance record breakers, she only felt happy and 'free' in the clouds, away from people and reality. But her new drug cost alot more than heroine, and so she battled with little enthusiasm to fund her flying, and was always (reputedly) ungrateful and difficult to work with, short, acerbic and a bit of a social steamroller. She upset a lot of people, and resentment built up against her especially amongst air racers. One of the ways she was to try and fund this Aztec flight was selling movie film of the polar crossing, but at London her dingy little flat had been burgled and the camera was stolen.  It meant that after the equator-equator flight, she was heavily in debt and struggling to pay Piper for the Aztec. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tracking up Norway has been enjoyable, with very cloudy weather and rain squalls. At last I arrived at Tromso for the over-water flight to Svalbard island. I’m ready for the take-off here.  The airports were busy with 737s and Dash 8s, I was quite surprised.

 

2016-6-11_13-56-17-739_zpslupclblf.png

 

The flight out saw patchy cumulus up to 12,000’ and I had to pick my way through carefully, but there was a lot of think cloud I had to pass through and power dropped repeatedly as ice built up in the carburettor. Engine heat sorted the problem out on these occasions, though at one point I left the cabin for a drink and put the Aztec on autopilot. When I returned the plane was on the edge of a stall, and I was able to add carb heat and restore control at the last minute. Sheila Scott never had that problem!! I was stunned to find icebergs in the Arctic Ocean as snow-covered Svalbard came into sight after several hours flight:

 

2016-6-11_16-54-24-828_zpsktjjlqal.png

 

The island was bleak and rugged, snow-covered in places, other areas were glacier smoothed mountains and dramatic valleys.

 

2016-6-11_17-12-29-694_zps7ba0cobp.png

 

The cloud came lower and I found myself zipping down stunning dry valleys as I approached my most northerly stop: Longyear.

 

2016-6-11_17-20-50-828_zpstvh7met9.png

 

Next – the trip over the Pole to Alert in Canada!

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this