I've been planning a cross country trip in my new airplane. I just bought it a few months ago and it still isn't at home. It is located in central British Columbia and I my home base is in eastern Manitoba just north of Minnesota. Yes, out in the land of 10,000 lakes and yes it is a seaplane.
I am very excited about this trip. This is the kind of aviation activity that I dream of daily. Most days, I am busily working at my desk writing computer programs and such but much of this time I am wishing that I am out there with all of the other back country pilots flying from one remote lake to the next catching a few pickerel or trout along the way. This trip will take me out of my comfort zone a bit because it just isn't something that I do every day. While I am very excited, I am also a little bit anxious about all the things out there that can get the occasional pilot into trouble.
So what can get a pilot like myself into trouble out there. Well, there's the fact that this trip is over 1000 mi long and along the way there are few places to land a seaplane and get fuel. Before I go, I must research as many seaplane landing sites as possible and which ones have fuel and which ones just food and lodging.
One of the potential landing sites along the way is on the Missouri river. Normally at this time of year landing on the Missouri would not be a problem, but another pilot told me yesterday that the water is running wickedly fast right now and there is lots of debris in the water which is a big hazard for us float pilots.
What if a mechanical problem occurs and I need to put the airplane down somewhere that is miles and miles from towns or busy roads. Or worse yet what if that place is an alpine lake or even worse not on a lake, but in the bush. In a case like this things to be concerned about could be injury, keeping warm, or being prepared to survive in the woods for more than just a short time.
What do you take with you on a long cross country flight across less than habitable terrain? Must have items for me will be a tent, light sleeping bag, light stove, a few light pots, some basic survival gear, a few key tools, my Spot® device, aviation gps, cell phone. An item I'd like to have and don't, but might purchase before going would be a satellite phone. Where I fly, cell phones don't always work and the sat phone could definitely be a handy addition to my survival box.
Think about it. If you have further ideas (or better ones) please don't hesitate to comment on my blog and let me know what I should carry for this and future cross country flights. Stay safe and tailwinds!