Let’s face it. We build up time in our planes pretty quick. We become confident in our control and satisfied with our precision. However, at some point you may be asked to ferry your aircraft to another location to fly jumpers. This may seem like no big deal as we’ve all done cross country flights to attain our licenses. Right? Well from time to time some of our diver driver brethren end up in an accident report and it’s usually not just scraped paint.
So here are some things to consider when asked to move a plane away from your home base:
- How do you feel? Have you been flying jumpers all day and then plan to fly late into the evening/night to move the plane? How long have you been awake already? Consider that 16 hours “on duty” can be equivalent cognitive impairment equal to or greater than blood alcohol content of 0.08.
- What whether conditions will be encountered during your flight? GET AN OFFICIAL WEATHER BRIEFING.
- What weather are you certified/current for? Are you night landing current for carrying passengers that want to tag along? Are you instrument current if encountering marginal VFR or IFR condition?
- How much fuel will your aircraft need for the flight? You’re experienced in flying loads with standard fueling. But just topping off the tanks may not guarantee you reach your destination. Do you know how your engine performs in cruise as opposed to just full power in max rate climb?
- Have you considered night reserve is 45 minutes and not the 30 you’re used to carrying during day jump ops. (you do carry 30 minutes reserve during day jump ops. Right?)
- Does your aircraft have seats in order to carry passengers? Yes, your skydiving buddies sit on the floor just fine during jump ops however you ARE NOT LEGAL when flying to another airport unless they have a seat with seatbelt. Does not matter if they wear their rig and belt in normal. You are not conducting skydiving ops within 25 miles of the departure airport most likely.
- And for the love of God don’t do what I did when trying to determine if the pitot heat worked on the Twin Otter and grab it! And when I say grabbed it I mean full hand wrapped the dang thing. That sucker heated up fast!
With these things in mind please take time to read these highlighted accident reports. Each has a unique factor leading to the accident. Remember ferrying a jump plane is not the same as going up and down over the same airport. And likely is not something you’ve done lately so cross country considerations may not be fresh in your mind.