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Around the world in a CT


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From aeronews.net:


IAF Pilots Attempting Circumnavigation Record In Micro Light


Tue, 17 Jul '07


Flight Also Celebrates Indian Air Force 75th Anniversary


Two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter pilots are winging a Flight Design CT across the world, and they've made it to the continental United States.


Pilot Rahul Monga, 37, normally flies attack helicopters while his co-pilot Anil Kumar, 38, handles supersonic jet fighters. Right now, they are flying the German-manufactured CTSW Advance, hoping to cover the globe in about 45 days, according to the IAF.


The empty weight of the plane is a little more than 661 pounds and it has a range of 869 miles with a ceiling of 14,000 feet. It has a glass cockpit and electronic flight instrumentation system (EFIS), internal GPS, a satellite tracker and a VOR coupled R/T set. It is also fitted with an emergency parachute recovery system.


The two IAF Wing Commanders are scheduled to land near Los Angeles in the small town of Santa Paula, CA Tuesday morning. They have taken on this mission not only as an attempt to smash the current record for circumnavigating the globe in a micro light, but also as a goodwill mission to celebrate the IAF's 75th Anniversary.


"I am proud to represent the country and the Indian Air Force in such an event. Me and my entire team have put in a lot of effort 'planning' the expedition, it's time to live it. With God's grace and well wishes of the entire country we will be successful," said Monga just prior to takeoff June 1.


The two have already flown halfway around the world since leaving Delhi, India. They've battled monsoons up China's eastern coast, flown over frozen and sparsely-populated areas of Russia and leaped across the bone-chilling Bering Sea to land in Anchorage, Alaska.


They crossed the International Date Line on July 4 and gained a day in their trek, according to the IAF.


"We have got one more day in our expedition to live it fully," Monga said.


They are attempting to lop 34 days off the nearly 98-day current record, but they are running 12 days behind schedule because foul weather grounded them in a number of countries.


The two pilots say flying -- or, more accurately, landing -- the CT is just a bit different than their normal fighter jets. Since the aircraft weighs less than 1100 pounds on takeoff and is highly susceptible to wind gusts, the plane "lands like a drunken Dinosaur," according to an IAF release.


At one remote Chinese airstrip they were just about to touch down when a powerful wind shot them 50 feet back up into the air. It took three more attempts before they touched down safely.


The most dangerous passage to date was crossing the Bering Sea on July 5. Monga was the only one flying the craft as it crossed over the frigid waters because Kumar was replaced on the Russian leg by a local navigator, a mandatory requirement because that country's air controllers only speak Russian.


If engine troubles had forced Monga to ditch the plane, he would have had only six minutes to three hours to survive, depending on whether he was able to get an immersion survival suit on in time.


That is where some new tracking and communications technology onboard the tiny craft provided by a Canadian company would have come in handy. The Automated Flight Information Reporting System (AFIRS) was developed by Flyht, a subsidiary of Calgary, Alberta-based AeroMechanical Services Ltd.


It allows IAF officers sitting in a control room in north central India to constantly track the micro light's location and allows them to communicate with the pilot via satellite phone.


Had Monga ditched the aircraft, IAF controllers could have called in Canadian, American and Russian rescue teams and told them exactly where in the Bering Sea to look.


The vast majority of current commercial jets don't have radio contact in large patches of the world; nor can airlines track their craft in many regions of the globe, the company said.


From Santa Paula, they are scheduled to head northeast to Colorado Springs, southeast to Jacksonville, FL then due north to Toronto, Canada. They hope to exit North America from Canada's frozen north, hop over to Greenland, Iceland, Europe and home to India.


The journey can be tracked from the IAF website.


FMI: www.amscanada.com, http://indianairforce.nic.in



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