The Planning Phase for this long range trip to California and back

Round the World Flight with HB-PON 2008/09
Rolf Martin FRIEDEN & Manfred Melloh
Mon 1 Aug 2005 21:22

The planning Phase of this Roundtrip

I purchased this beautiful travelling
machine, a Comanche 260C (HB-PON), some 15 years ago in the USA, St. Louis, Mo. When I took
delivery, the aircraft was in absolute pristine shape, and it had just over 1,000 hours since leaving the factory new. To bring my newly acquired toy
back to Europe, I ferried the aircraft across the Atlantic, via the Azores Islands to my home country Switzerland.

Since then, I have spent many happy
hours flying in the Swiss Alps, through­out Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Other flying highlights
were, when
visiting the AirVenture in Oshkosh USA with a bunch of European Comanche Affectionados in 1995, and an unfor­gettable 108-hour
flight around Africa
with my wife Anne, in 1998.

Good maintenance and perfect
upkeep of my Comanche over the years was always a top priority for me. As the aircraft total hours since new steadily
approached the 2,000-
hour mark, I started to investigate, where I could best get a professional overhaul of my engine, as well'as a whole list of overhauls,
modifications and upgrades
done to my aircraft.
After a long search,
I decided to fly HB-PON to Johnston Aircraft Service in Tulare, California, to have all the work performed by Comanche specialists.


The planning phase for this long range trip to California and back

There were two scenarios possible for
me to get all this done: Either leave Switzerland in early spring, and take the South Atlantic route via West Africa,
South America, the Caribbean, and on
to the United States, to leave HB-PON in California for the work, which would take at least three to four months.

Returning back home would require taking the North Atlantic route via Northern Canada, Greenland and Iceland (the best period with good
chances of reasonable weather and the
least icing conditions, which is between July and September), or doing all this in reverse, starting in early August
the North Atlantic first and then taking the southern route starting in November to return back home in early December.

Due to professional commitments in my company, the decision was made to start the planned trip with my friend and fellow pilot, Olivier Reymond
the beginning of August, and fly my Comanche to the United States via the North Atlantic - Greenland route.

Countless arrangements had to be made in advance before our departure. We had to get special personal entry visas, as well as entry and flight
sions for HB-PON for the United States  from the Department of Homeland Security - an unbelievable adminis­trative, time-consuming and
costly nightmare, to say the least!


The Swiss Federal Aviation Authorities requested substantial modifications to the installation of my 100-gallon ferrytank, which I had initially installed in
the United States in Bangor, Maine on
the occasion of my first Atlantic crossing in 1991. They were requiring, amongst a number of other things, the
structure for the ferry tank to withhold at least 9 Gs, in case of a forced land­ing or a crash situation. A whole R&D
project had to be
started with the local
FAA, experts, consultants, and aircraft mechanics.

Three months and a whole bundle of dollars lighter, the project finally ended with a Swiss FAA-approved Airplane Flight Manual supplement of 12 pages,
legally allowing me to use this ferry
tank from now on whenever I needed it. Both the medical examination and the annual half-day IFR skill test were due
just before our departure date,
and a box full of maps and approach plates had to be ordered from Sporty's and Jeppesen for the 31,000
kilome­ter round trip.