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Author would like some advice on aircraft related matters

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Author would like some advice on aircraft related matters

Old 8th Dec 2018, 17:27
  #21 (permalink)  
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+1 for the Beech 18 - not least because of previous 'form'! An ex French Marines Adjutant Chef was (it was alleged) flying one (unlicensed) in Laos, in the early 60s moving white powder from the North West and air dropping in the Gulf of Thailand. His approaches to isolated airstrips in mountainous terrain was D/R from known peaks along known valleys!! Vientiane was very much 'cowboy territory' in those days!
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 13:02
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I'm not personally familiar with N Australia but in territory that vast I'd be astonished if there is even rudimentary radar coverage over much of te coast and virtually none inland, especially for an aircraft flying low-level. Switch off your transponder and you'd be all but invisible. Radar's not going to see a small plane like the Beech at 500ft above perhaps 50-60 miles even at sea I imagine. If he's on the deck as he coasts in he'd need to be within 20 miles to be visible amongst surface clutter. Once inland he's away and gone as far as ground based radar is concerned.

Anyone is welcome to correct those figures, but surveillamnce radar coverage over extensive coastlines at low level is nowhere near as good as most people imagine. Gaps sometimes get filled by airborne surveillance assets, AWACS types of which Oz doubtless has some and will use them off the N coast mainly for illegal immigration control. They work well over water and would probably see him from 30,000ft at 3000ft from 150 miles away.If he were on the wavetops (where he would be in this scenario) surface clutter would reduce thet by half I imagine. That could be your idea for getting him spotted. He pulls up to 100ft to light a fag and pops up in front of a tired radar operator, and then disappears off the screen again. Of course as these things aren't armed (at least not for Air to air) they can't harm him and if he gets down amongst the weeds once onshore he might even lose them in hilly country. Remember, it was the inability to see through ground clutter that contributed significantly to the costs and eventual abandonment of the Nimrod AEW programme.
Even if they launch F18s a well trained pilot (ie ex military) will be able to evade one of those indefinately in a Beech 18. Harder with two of them if they know what they're doing but if they're not on the ball and he is even 2 is doable, I'm told. (The speed differential and turning rdiuii are so different the jet can't easily get a bead on him) Do Oz F18 have guns? They'd be totally useless without.

A fisheries patrol aircraft might bump into him and send a report...

Others will doubtless correct my figures/rationale.

Finally, when yu've got it pretty much done be sure to get it proof-read by three or four experienced aviators from the region to weed out any glaring technical boo-boos.
Best of luck!
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 05:11
  #23 (permalink)  
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Speaking as a passenger ... when a light aircraft is staying low and 'hedge hopping' to stay (they hope) unnoticed, the passengers may find themselves wishing they had not had breakfast ... Also, in sub-tropical regions the air density can change very quickly and this leads to bumps and drops, exacerbating the discomfort for the passengers and the risks of not having enough suitable bags in the seat pocket. Pilots of these aircraft are innured to this. I would not want you to be graphic but it adds another facet of realism.

I agree with those who have said: Establish the rules and stick to them! I spent 27 years in telecommunications and IT, so I get highly irritated by the modern films and TV serials that have some junior crapping away on a keyboard and then shouting, "I'm in!". Whilst hacking is 100% possible, please make it look realistic. As a specialist, I am sorely irritated when a style of telephone (fixed or cellular) is chosen because 'it looks right' rather than what was being used in that time and place. I then discount almost everything else they have put in that I do not know about.

It sounds as if you are planning your 'cowboy' to be in the analogue era and thus fewer electronics - which is good! Electronics are used too freely by writers as a get-out-of-jail-free card. If you get your character into trouble then, either they get themselves out the clever way - or they get stumped!
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Old 11th Dec 2018, 02:05
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Thanks so much! So many great ideas here, and wonderful language, too. My nasty writer's mind especially loves the idea of them all being airsick!

I've had a major rethink, though. My Saffer pilot, who was only ever a minor character, was starting to dominate the action! And you can't have that, it's always your major characters who should carry the action. So my Saffer pilot is now too drunk to fly, and I've given Kimbo, one of my major characters (who is a good guy but is on the run), a backstory where he almost qualified as a pilot but something (and I'm stll working on this) prevented him. I know that sounds a tad convenient but, trust me, it actually works really well even if it's meant some solid hours reverse-engineering what I've already written. I always loved the central premise of the TV show Doc Martin where the main character, who is a London surgeon, finds out that he faints at the sight of blood and, tail between his legs, ends up as a 'lowly' GP in a rural backwater.

So, in being forced to fly the plane, Kimbo is forced to face whatever demon prevented him from being a fully-fledged pilot in the first place. Any ideas out there?

Also I also like the idea of there being less digital and more analogue - so many plot problems these days are solved by Google.

But if that's the case - how do they navigate? So if they fly out of Buru how do they plot a course to Darwin or Timor Leste? Please be gentle, I have no background in aviation and I would love to be able to learn how this is done so I can pass it on to my readers. Personally, I love stories where I learn something.

I'm also playing around with the idea that they are forced to land on Kisar Island. I assume there would be no air traffic control on such a small place. So if they landed there would there typically be anybody around the airport at all?

Again, I can't thank you all enough for all your wonderful suggestions - my novel was stalling, but now it's soaring, taking me to unexpected, and exciting, places!

cheers, Phil
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Old 12th Dec 2018, 18:01
  #25 (permalink)  
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Thanks phil170258. I think it's fine to navigate by GPS as the aircraft you are planning will be 'old school', with special wiring to power the GPS unit. Naturally, this would not be built in but a small unit fixed on a stalk or bracket to the edge of the panel or a window? The folks in here can guide you on that. Likewise, the radio and comms would be basic - as long as they meet all current regulations! On the ground, you could seek to minimise use of computers. At departure, he might be asked for his load manifest to be emailed but all he has is a hand written page? As mentioned, I am pax and not familiar with the detail there.

Cowboys might want to try and use a cell phone for communicating with his reception committee as he gets close and that gives some opportunity for it to work/not work. Or to receive SMS whilst flying and then the same as in a car - don't try to send txt messages when you are the sole pilot! Does he have to ask a pax to help? As long as looking at the small screen of the phone does not add to ill feelings ...

Lastly, do his pax try and bring too much with them, risking overweight departure? Especially if he has to tanker fuel for his get out, which would be to a third point, not his original.
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Old 16th Dec 2018, 20:21
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Probably a good idea to read some books by Brian Lecomber, he flew in the Caribbean on some decidedly dodgy trips.
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Old 17th Dec 2018, 08:33
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One of them is very Beech 18 oriented...
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Old 22nd Dec 2018, 22:23
  #28 (permalink)  
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Beech 18s are a skydivers' mainstay, in case you want to have an emergency bail out or pick a little used airfield.

And, yeah, GPS is not wired into all old planes, and many reliable planes are way older than GPS.
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Old 22nd Dec 2018, 22:40
  #29 (permalink)  
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So, in being forced to fly the plane, Kimbo is forced to face whatever demon prevented him from being a fully-fledged pilot in the first place. Any ideas out there?
Watched a tragic death of a loved one in an (aviation related) accident.

Caused the tragic death of another in an accident.

Lack of self confidence.

Got chicken shit (no offense) at the concept of going solo when the instructor got out of the plane and said, "It's all yours. I'll sign your logbook after you make three landings."

Ran out of money (over and over again) before finishing flight training, so never had a chance to solo [fly all by your lonesome in the plane with only yourself to rely upon to land safely] or whatever other milestone you needed to get your license.

Flying costs money and takes time. If you don't have both, it won't happen, for a myriad of reasons.

Family illness, duty, obligations, "failure to launch"

Flying is usually a result of following your dreams despite the expense.

Fill in the dots for all the reasonable reasons that would say "NO" to that dream.
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Old 22nd Dec 2018, 22:50
  #30 (permalink)  
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By the way, if you want to carry four passengers and surf boards in whatever sort of plane, get rid of extra passenger seats.

They get in the way and add useless weight.

Planes used by skydivers only have a seat for the pilot, and copilot, if needed.

Skydivers are cargo in jump planes.
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Old 23rd Dec 2018, 01:23
  #31 (permalink)  
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I want my plane to attempt to land in Australia, but for the authorities to not allow this.
If he wanted to land in Darwin, it's possible authorities could stop it. Elsewhere along NT coastline different story.
Many years ago, a missionary got scared for the safety of his family due to threats from Indonesian military - they wanted him to spy on villages in Irian Jaya. One day he loaded family onto the 182 and landed at Gove - first anyone knew about it was when he went to the briefing office/flight service unit to announce what he had done.
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Old 24th Dec 2018, 00:00
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OMG. Almost forgot to mention a classic STOL aircraft that meets your requirements, plus the engine can burn diesel and land in a 300 foot (91m) clearing. The Pilatus PC-6 Porter is a single-engined STOL utility aircraft designed by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. First flown in 1959. It can fly in level flight as slow as a, well, let me just say the Pilatus Porter can fly really slow.

Last edited by evansb; 24th Dec 2018 at 00:49.
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Old 24th Dec 2018, 00:11
  #33 (permalink)  
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So, in being forced to fly the plane, Kimbo is forced to face whatever demon prevented him from being a fully-fledged pilot in the first place. Any ideas out there?
They had a near miss as a student/low time/ beginner pilot?

Once, as a student. I accelerated down the (long) runway when my instructor asked me about various instrument readings.

Umm, duh, battery wasn't hooked up right, so crucial instruments were dead. I had time to abort the takeoff and taxi back to base.

Would have been far more exciting to be airborne as a student pilot with crucial information lacking. Especially if I'd been solo...

A second time, when I had many more hours on my log book, I was cruising round in uncontrolled airspace with a new camera taking pictures. I had the radio tuned to the approach of a nearby controlled airport when I noticed that the channel had gone oddly quiet.

I looked at the gas gauges, and noticed that they read empty. A quick gut check reminded me that yes, indeed, I knew there was sufficient fuel in both tanks, so ignored that disconcerting note.

Anyway, landed at a local uncontrolled field, made a land line phone call to my home base, which had a control tower but no radar, saying that in twenty minutes I'll fly in and land there. Got back to my plane, where, duh, I had to rely on the kindness of strangers, who'd listened to my tale, to prop start my plane and send me on my merry way.

Getting lost is a great way to get scared.

My first training lesson as a student pilot included a small plane cutting across our path, which led my instructor to tell the control tower that they knew where lost student was. (We listened to the tower and student talking, with both trying to figure out where latter was. Busy airspace.) The latter was then directed safely home.

Any equipment failure early on, or a bird strike (e.g., a bird smashing through your windshield, resulting in a bloody mess and a howling wind in the cockpit) would be enough to cause second thoughts in many pilots.

Kimbo may also haver flown after drinking? Or likes to drink? Or been in the plane when his partner was drunk?
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Old 24th Dec 2018, 00:40
  #34 (permalink)  
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Also I also like the idea of there being less digital and more analogue - so many plot problems these days are solved by Google.

But if that's the case - how do they navigate?
Charts and navigation equipment, and eyeballs! Familiarity with the local area.

In early days of GPS navigation for small planes, there was an increase in controlled flight into terrain.

In other words, you were on a perfectly straight line between your takeoff point and destination, but ran straight into a hill or a mountain or a large radio tower because you didn't look at the aviation chart (or through the windshield in front of you) which would have warned you of the obstacle.

They upgraded GPS systems for planes to warn of obstacles...

Another concern is that if the atmospheric pressure changes as you travel.

The phrase is, "From high to low, look out below."

In other words, if a low pressure area moves in, typically associated with bad weather, then your plane's altimeter will think it is at a higher altitude (lower atmospheric pressure) than it actually is in comparison to local terrain, whose altitude in comparison to local sea level doesn't change, regardless of weather.
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Old 24th Dec 2018, 08:23
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Originally Posted by phil170258
I have a couple of other questions:

Is it possible for there to be 'intervention' before my plane gets anywhere near an airport - in maritime situations boats often get intercepted as soon as they enter Australian waters, but is there an aviation equivalent?

At what stage do the authorities want to know who is onboard the plane? Do they ask for passport details before allowing the plane to land? And if one of the passengers wasn't an Australian citizen and didn't have the required visa would that be enough to deny permission to land?

thanks Phil
2 really profound questions. Having answers for those would be beneficial to anybody wishing to interfere with lawful operation of international flights.

All that is required for the bad guys to get to that point is spinning some fiction around it to create a good enough cover story.

Hopefully the ones who know the answers are sufficiently intelligent NOT to post their answers here on a PUBLIC forum, and mostly you will receive the lesser-informed opinions, ie. more fiction to add to yours. Good luck with the novel.
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