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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

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Old 5th Dec 2018, 11:12
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Author would like some advice on aircraft related matters

Hi

I'm an author and am currently writing an action-based novel (to be published by Penguin Random house in 2019) set in Indonesia but told from the point of view of an Australian.

I don't know much about planes or flying (hence my presence on this forum!) but a light aircraft plays a very important part in my plot! So this particular aircraft is owned by a South African who is a bit of a cowboy and runs supplies in and out of the goldmine on Buru Island.

So my question is: what type of plane could he typically have? I guess I'm thinking of something that is pretty old but is famous for being an absolute workhorse. It also has to be able to carry at least 4 people (including my pilot) and a couple of surfboards. I realise that, without the 60,000 odd words of accompanying plot this sounds a bit mad, but any help will be greatly appreciated.

It is fiction I'm writing but I do like to get this stuff right. Oh yeah, I'd also need to know the range of the plane.

regards, Phil
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Old 5th Dec 2018, 15:17
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How about an Antonov 2?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonov_An-2

Range: 845 km (456 nmi, 525 mi)


Cockpit/Interior view in following video.

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Old 5th Dec 2018, 15:50
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De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter, 9-10 passengers, max range: approximately 945 mi (822 nm, 1,520 km). Payload: variable depending on configuration, but safely around one-ton (2,000 lbs, 900 kg.). The "Otter" is commonly equipped with floats, and less commonly on amphibious floats.

Or better yet, a De Haviland DHC-6 Twin Otter. Google it.

If you want an Australian built aircraft with an Indonesian connection, the rare GAF Nomad N22 comes to mind; Range: 730nmi / 1352km, endurance 8 hrs at 140kt / 259km/h, at 5,000 ASL.

Last edited by evansb; 5th Dec 2018 at 16:16.
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Old 5th Dec 2018, 16:26
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Beech 18, in production from 1937 to 1969 - plenty still flying. Much used as a small cargo hauler, range about 1200 miles.

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Old 5th Dec 2018, 16:29
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Note that although Jet fuel is available at Buru Island airport, the availability of aviation gasoline on Buru Island is around ZERO, so the DHC-3 Otter would preferably be a turbine engine conversion. For added suspense, turbine engines can burn diesel fuel in a pinch. The GAF Nomad and DHC-6 Twin Otter are both powered by turbine (turbo-prop) engines.

The Beech 18 would need a cargo door conversion to carry two surf boards.

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Old 5th Dec 2018, 16:45
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Just throwing some models out there:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilatus_PC-6_Porter
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cessna_208_Caravan
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GippsAero_GA10
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quest_Kodiak

The surfboards would be a snug fit in some of them but hey we are talking cowboy here
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Old 5th Dec 2018, 17:08
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There are a few turbine Beech 18s out there!
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Old 5th Dec 2018, 18:09
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Note that although Jet fuel is available at Buru Island airport, the availability of aviation gasoline on Buru Island is around ZERO
phil170258, I honestly think that 99% reading your book, including pilots who don't fly in that area, would never be aware of the above. Therefore, I strongly suggest that the Beech 18 is the best candidate for your cowboy operator/workhorse spec. Be sure to include an image or silhouette of the Beech 18 on the cover!

Good luck.
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Old 5th Dec 2018, 22:18
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Originally Posted by Hotel Tango View Post
phil170258, I honestly think that 99% reading your book, including pilots who don't fly in that area, would never be aware of the above. Therefore, I strongly suggest that the Beech 18 is the best candidate for your cowboy operator/workhorse spec. Be sure to include an image or silhouette of the Beech 18 on the cover!

Good luck.
Thanks so much for all your brilliant replies but I love love love the Beech 18 - what a beautiful looking plane, and absolutely, the sort of thing you would stick on the cover!

I have another question, but I'm not sure if it's appropriate, given that it involves border protection. So Moderator feel free to delete if it breeches any guidelines.

But here's what I want to achieve plotwise - I want my plane to attempt to land in Australia, but for the authorities to not allow this. And, of course, because it's a novel, I'd like this to happen in an exciting and dramatic way!

My aim then is for the plane to be forced to land in Timor Leste, in one of the smaller regional airstrips.

Once again, thanks so much for your help!

Phil
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Old 6th Dec 2018, 03:32
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Originally Posted by phil170258 View Post

But here's what I want to achieve plotwise - I want my plane to attempt to land in Australia, but for the authorities to not allow this. And, of course, because it's a novel, I'd like this to happen in an exciting and dramatic way!
There are some examples of UK radio procedures denying access to an aircraft in the radio comms manual CAP 413 (google for a pdf).
eg

BIGJET 347, I am instructed by Her Majesty’s Government to refuse entry into United Kingdom airspace. What are your intentions?

BIGJET 347, I am instructed by Her Majesty’s Government to inform you that landing clearance has been refused for any air eld within the United Kingdom. What are your intentions?

BIGJET 347, I am instructed by Her Majesty’s Government that you are to hold at KTN at FL270. Acknowledge
I imagine the Oz version is similar and that the Oz version of CAP413 is available online. Maybe ask in the Australian forum here.

Not sure how exciting and dramatic that is! If the reason for denying entry was 'legal', then an emergency such as low fuel would presumably take precedence, the pilot would have to formally declare an emergency and would be optimistic that permission would then be granted. But that implies turning-up unexpectedly which may or may not be possible depending on the intervening airspace.

If the plane is hijacked, CAP 413 says a dialog like this might be expected:

I AM INStRUCtED BY HER MAJEStY’S GOVERNMENt tO REFUSE ENtRY INtO UNItED KINGDOM AIRSPACE/tO INFORM YOU tHAt LANDING CLEARANCE HAS BEEN REFUSED FOR ANY AERODROME WItHIN tHE UNItED KINGDOM. WHAt ARE YOUR INtENtIONS?
or
I AM INStRUCtED BY HER MAJEStY’S GOVERNMENt tHAt YOU ARE tO HOLD At ( x or GPS position) At (level). ACKNOWLEDGE.
If a hijacking was suspected (and the pilot can indicate this by setting the transponder code to 7500) then declaring an emergency will probably not give the pilot freedom to land anywhere, a rather tense dialog would probably follow with the aircraft being directed somewhere remote with consequences to not following instructions.


May I add that I applaud you for making an effort to get this stuff right. Flyers, sailors or others get very frustrated when a plot hinges on something that is wrong or impossible, or even if a detail is nonsensical. We will allow you some artistic licence :-) but even for the non specialist I think a solid, consistent, technically-accurate narrative makes it much more compelling and convincing.
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Old 6th Dec 2018, 11:44
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May I add that I applaud you for making an effort to get this stuff right. Flyers, sailors or others get very frustrated when a plot hinges on something that is wrong or impossible, or even if a detail is nonsensical. We will allow you some artistic licence :-) but even for the non specialist I think a solid, consistent, technically-accurate narrative makes it much more compelling and convincing.
Not that I disagree with you, but it only really applies to those of us in the business. The vast majority of readers won't have a clue. I have read loads of novels involving subjects I know nothing or very little about in terms of factual accuracy. I just enjoy the story line. Of course, when I read an aviation based novel I become critical of inaccurate facts and it does affect my enjoyment of the book. I think an author has to find the right balance between reality and nonsense. Not always an easy task.
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Old 6th Dec 2018, 12:55
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Originally Posted by Hotel Tango View Post
Not that I disagree with you, but it only really applies to those of us in the business. The vast majority of readers won't have a clue. I have read loads of novels involving subjects I know nothing or very little about in terms of factual accuracy. I just enjoy the story line. Of course, when I read an aviation based novel I become critical of inaccurate facts and it does affect my enjoyment of the book. I think an author has to find the right balance between reality and nonsense. Not always an easy task.
Interesting, I'm not sure how far I can suspend my disbelief, it probably depends on other distractions in the storyline. I imagione that I can detect a 'technically consistent' storyline even in an area I know little or nothing about - eg toys associated with modern warfare. And even in sci-fi, I can accept a Universe with any properties, but I get tetchy if they are not consistently or logically applied, because the whole plot becomes arbitrary. I can accept that an engine runs on unobtanium, but please be consistent about its nature and capabilities

Maybe I am just weird!
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Old 6th Dec 2018, 14:33
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Maybe I am just weird!
No, but you prove my point that we are all different and have different areas of expertise depending not only on our professions but also hobbies and subjects of interest. Furthermore, I would guess that an author can get away with a lot more in a sci-fi novel. I don't know; never read them!
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 05:06
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As a writer of fiction you often struggle with how closely you want to cleave to reality. For example I was researching firing up a Beech 18, and it seems like quite a lengthy and complicated process. That actually suits my purposes, because I'm able to extract some drama from it, and I will go into some detail, but if there was no drama to be got, then I'd just skip over it.

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
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 14:26
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Certainly the USA and UK and probably the EU want the passport details of everyone flying. You do this at check-in be it online or at the airport. Not sure if this will apply to a private plane but in part of artistic licence you could make it so; e. g. When filing the flight plan and it is overseas, you could require the destination country to ask for that information.
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 16:26
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For international flights, in my experience on private flights, you file a passenger list which includes passport numbers. But also in my experience there is never any check while boarding even in large airports, and certainly not in small airports when flying privately. And even on arrival, passport checks through GA areas seem pretty sporadic. So smuggling people would be easy.


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?
It's uncommon, but certainly possible. Would probably only be done in the case of a particular suspicion. The aircraft would be visible on radar, its transponder should identify it and link it to a flight plan and alarm bells will ring if there is no match or no transponder response. I guess rather than very expensive and difficult in-the-air intercepts, a suspicious flight would find a welcoming committee waiting for it on the ground.
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 21:03
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De Havilland [ Australia ] Drover 3 eng looks lie a Dove , tailwheel fixed u/c.

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Old 7th Dec 2018, 23:41
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Do what all the smugglers do: fly very low under the radar and land at a remote field in the middle of nowhere. Or maybe you want them to be seen?
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Old 8th Dec 2018, 00:53
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Originally Posted by phil170258 View Post
As a writer of fiction you often struggle with how closely you want to cleave to reality. For example I was researching firing up a Beech 18, and it seems like quite a lengthy and complicated process. That actually suits my purposes, because I'm able to extract some drama from it, and I will go into some detail, but if there was no drama to be got, then I'd just skip over it.

thanks Phil
The start up isn't much worse than other engines. There's a bit of piano playing going on holding the starter and ignition boost and tickling the primer. There's about 7 gallons of oil to warm up but in that part of the world it shouldn't take too long.
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Old 8th Dec 2018, 01:27
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Originally Posted by phil170258 View Post
Thanks so much for all your brilliant replies but I love love love the Beech 18 - what a beautiful looking plane, and absolutely, the sort of thing you would stick on the cover!

I have another question, but I'm not sure if it's appropriate, given that it involves border protection. So Moderator feel free to delete if it breeches any guidelines.

But here's what I want to achieve plotwise - I want my plane to attempt to land in Australia, but for the authorities to not allow this. And, of course, because it's a novel, I'd like this to happen in an exciting and dramatic way!

My aim then is for the plane to be forced to land in Timor Leste, in one of the smaller regional airstrips.

Once again, thanks so much for your help!

Phil
FWIW - maybe your character might not have bothered checking the notams or gets themselves a bit lost and blunders into a military air defense identification zone or similar doing exercises around the top end (eg operation "pitch black" that gets conducted across northern australia every year or so) and finds themselves intercepted by military aircraft (if F18s they would have a hard struggle trying to slow down to keep with the D18 - you might also have some fun with that...)

The D18 would certainly be made to feel unwelcome, particularly if it failed to comply with the directions of the intercepting aircraft.

Procedures for what they would say and do to an aircraft they didn't want around can be found in several places on line but a quick summary is at General Civil Aviation Safety Authority
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