Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ice Pilots

Ice Pilots NWT is a reality tv show that has aviation as its main theme. I heard about this particular show from one of my favorite aviation podcasts, Uncontrolled Airspace, since then I have been watching the episodes online and enjoying every minute of it.
The basic story follows a company called Buffalo Airways as they fly cargo and people out of the town of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada. They operate a fleat of World War II vintage airplanes with big beutiful round radial engines.
Visit the show site at and watch episodes from the first season at Follow the link at the bottom of the right hand side.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Table Talk

The goal was to make a table where we would be able to wash of grease parts at the hanger. Normally you can buy a parts washer at Home Despot or Grainger... but in Pucallpa you just have to make your own. So that is what we did.
Here is the table, anchored to the wall and ready for the metal covering.

They don't sell dowels here so I had to turn down a square piece of wood on a lathe to make my own...

Dave Kooistra makes quick work with the jig saw and cuts a hole for the drain.

Bang in the dowel and cut it off flush with a hacksaw blade.

Dave Kooistra had had the genius idea to but a funnel below the table to help catch all the solvent that drains off.

All done, one parts washing table at our service. Now if we could just find some solvent... they don't sell that in Pucallpa either.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pit Stop

In NASCAR racing, a good pit stop will only take 12 seconds! But when we need to stop and refuel the float plane, a good pit stop takes 25 minutes. We store aviation fuel in 55 gallon drums at a number of places. When I land and tie the airplane up, I have to syphon out 30-40 gallons of aviation fuel into 5 gallon plastic jerry cans. Hauling them down the river bank and climbing up onto the wing to pour in 5 gallons at a time keeps all of us SAM AIR pilots in good shape. I usually am drenched with sweat by the time I am done refueling. Relief comes after taking off and getting up to cruise altitude, the air is 60 up at 5500 feet!

The need for SPEED

The main reason we use airplanes to transport missionaries in the jungle is because they fly
quickly! Traveling by river is about 15 miles per hour. Walking is maybe 3 mph. But flying, that is much quicker. We usually flight plan for 120 mph in the float plane and 135 mph in the wheel plane. However, just like like a boat traveling on a river, there are air currents and winds which help speed up or slow down the speed of the airplane over the ground. Here are a few shots during flight. Notice the airspeed indicator reads the same, about 110 (its in the top right hand corner, with the green arc). The ground speed on the GPS units tells a very different story!

Sometimes we can use the winds to our advantage. Down low there is usually less wind so if we are flying against the wind we will try to stay low. But up higher the winds are stronger so if we are going with the wind it saves times to climb higher and get the extra "push". The passengers never notice but I am happy if I can save them 10 minutes on a flight. Thats just 10 more minutes of flying they don't have to pay for.

Pilot Food

Pilots are not usually known for eating good healthy meals. Oh sure, if your flying the heavy iron across the Atlantic with the autopilot on and have a full complement of flight attendants with a well stocked galley all things are possible. Many charter pilots consider Granola bars, Snickers, and a can of Red Bull to be the perfect on the go lunch. But flying small single engine airplanes over the Peruvian Amazon requires some planning ahead. Here is a sample of my lunch on a flight just last week. Not to shabby if I say so myself.