It's time to start thinking about gear for Outback Overflight.
Electronics. Well, naturally, I'm a geek. So. Tentatively, the list is:
- Macbook Air 11-inch
- iPad mini (used for backup in-flight nav, and general use)
- iPhone (unlocked, will get a local SIM card when I get there)
- Point-and-shoot camera. I have a small one from my trip to watch the Shuttle launch; it has decent zoom and image quality, and is about the size of a fist including the battery charger.
- GoPro Hero 3+ video camera - possibly. Would be neat to get flight ops videos from Australia.
- Satellite emergency GPS messenger.
Chargers for the above, of course. The iPad and iPhone can share one, the Macbook has one, and the GoPro and point-and-shoot have wall wart battery chargers. Couple this with Australian power adapters.
I've bought a SPOT 3 Satellite GPS Tracker. This isn't a beacon, but it will save your position and track data at preset intervals (5, 15, 30, 60 mins) and send them directly to the Globalcom satellite network. It has two message buttons - 'SOS' and 'HELP.' SOS is a 'real emergency' and if that button is pressed, your current GPS position is sent to the GEOS rescue coordination center. 'HELP' doesn't engage rescue services, but instead sends a preset email message to a list of contacts that you configure using their (apparently godawful) website. That way, if you're in trouble that's not life-threatening, you can request assistance without involving official rescue organizations. This device will quiet most of my paranoia. It's waterproof, shock-resistant, and about the size of a cell phone.
Next up: aviation. This is a bit more complex. I'd like to take my own headset - a David Clark H10-13.4, the standard light-green military-looking headset recommended for student pilots. It's rugged, has decent sound quality, and is familiar. However, it's not small or light, and I'm going around the damn planet. I might take the risk of seeing what headsets the rental place I'm sourcing the plane from has available. The other option is to buy a Clarity Aloft headset - rather than being big metal cans, they're in-ear connected by a light metal behind-the-head band, with mic boom. They're quite light, but they're also $525. Ugh.
Still, there are some things that I'm definitely taking.
- E6B flight computer (the 'whiz wheel' - if you lose power, it's good to have.
- Logbook. Maybe a blank paper one, maybe an iPad/phone app, unsure yet.
- Protractor and drafting compass - useful for navigation on paper charts, and plotting range arcs.
- iPad navigation app for Australia (OzRunways?)
I'll have to take a stack of paper charts that I buy there - it's a condition of the rental. Probably $300 worth. :-P Ah well. I'll have PDFs of important stuff - Australian flight regs, a Garmin G1000 handbook, etc - on my iPad and iPhone.
Personal gear. I have to take my CPAP machine and a backup mouthpiece - one that maintains jaw position in my sleep - in case I end up somewhere without power. That has its own carrying case, and it'll also take my medications and personal care stuff. Clothing is a bit of a poser. I'm going to be there a month-plus, and for two or three weeks of it I'll be without more than minimal facilities. Not camping, but not living in business hotels, either. Plus, I have to lug everything halfway around the planet, and once there, it's all got to fit in a small general aviation aircraft for three weeks. I'm presently planning on taking a Lowe Alpine Kinni 60 bag - a large carryon, softsided, with optional backpack straps as well as a shoulder strap and side handle. It has a large pocket which may handle all of my electronics as well as clothes. But what clothes? Well, huh, hm.
I've purchased (for testing) a pair of Ex Officio underwear. These have been recommended to me by two different friends - they're nylon/lycra underwear. Besides being light, antibacterial, wicking away moisture and preventing chafing (heh) they're notable because you can clean them in a sink or shower, roll them in a towel and they'll dry in a couple of hours. So having three or four pairs would probably be enough - one of my friends went two weeks on a hike with two pairs and said they held up great to wilderness washing. I'll be in Australia in winter, so I'll probably have to have at least one warm top. So it's looking like:
- 3-4 pairs washable underwear
- 3 pairs of socks
- 2 pairs of jeans (because they're harder to wash improvisationally)
- 1 pair of shorts?
- 5 T-shirts
- 1 sweater or sweatshirt
- 1 windbreaker/waterproof shell
Survival gear for the airplane. I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand, better safe than sorry! On the other, I'm limited in what I can and want to haul from the US; I have the rescue messenger, and I'm limited by weight in the airplane. If I have to put this thing down in the bush, though, I damn well want more than what's in my pockets. So presently, I'm thinking (after advice from a couple people):
- 2 Dromedary or Camelback 6-liter water carriers. These are light, easy to transport, and can be filled there.
- 2 metal canteens. For personal carry, and because they're sturdier than a soft-side watercarrier.
- Lifestraw water purifier for emergencies
- First aid kit. If one isn't in the plane, we can get a small one there, ideally with relevant antivenins if necessary.
- Matches and lighters
- Signal mirror (GPS coordinates are great, but if you see a SAR aircraft, it'd be nice to be able to signal). Might be able to use cell phone surfaces, but this is a light and cheap option.
- Paracord (general purpose)
- Tarp for shelter
- Knife of some kind. Not a MANLY SURVIVAL KNIFE a la John Rambo, but maybe a multitool and a straight-blade for emergency tool use. That I'd have to get there, or mail in advance. Probably easier to buy it there, I'll be in Sydney for a couple of days first.
- Kit rations. 4 or 6 man-days of suryival rations for the plane.
Given that I plan on filing SAR
plans whenever we're not with the tour convoy, and that we'll have phones and the satellite messenger, I can't see planning on more than 2-3 days on the ground.
This is the first draft of the plan. We'll see what happens.