Expedition blog

June 25: From Hawaii to the US westcoast

Finally the time for our longest flight had come. After all our preparations, ferrytank installations, wind studying, saftey equipment training and waiting we were now ready to take off from Hilo, the big Island in Hawaii. Our destination from Hawaii was Long Beach in the Los Angeles area but since the dominating winds at this time of the year means that you will normally have a headwind we had to change our destination to Crecent City which is located on the northern border of Carlifornia. Flying up north in an arc towards Crecent City would mean that we would fly on the northern side of a high pressure system resuling in tailwinds from this since the high pressure systems on the northern hemisphere rotates clockwise.

All the weather and wind conditions looked perfect for a flight Friday afternoon. The reason for taking off in the afternoon is that we would like to be in daylight the day after if there would be any problems in the end of the flight.

After some initial problems finding oxygen for our oxygen system that we had borrowed from Mountain High (thanks for the great support and quick delivery MH!) We finally got the oxygen system filled and we were good to go. Thanks Air Service Hawaii who helped us out with the oxygen! We took off from Hilo (PHTO) at 18.30 just before sunset and started our climb out over the Pacific.

Then we realized it.

We were just about to start up our oxygen system when we realized that we had placed one vital part of the system in a non-reachable position in the aircraft which would prevent us from using the system. Since our calculations were made to fly at FL180 (18000 feet) we had to return to Hilo again, but before landing we had to burn off fuel at a high power setting for almost seven hours! I can tell you that we felt pretty annoyed over this! Anyhow, after doing a holding pattern for almost seven hours we landed late back in Hilo. In retrospect this was a learning experience, bringing in new equipment without a proper preflight routine shows how easy it is to miss something.

Johan and Henrik is ready for takeoff

Johan and Henrik is ready for takeoff

After a real good night sleep we felt good to go again the next day. The high pressure system had now moved further northwest which meant that we had to take a more northern route. Even if this made the route longer it was the only way to go in respect to the winds. We filled up the aircraft and this time made sure that all things were in place for the flight. Even if we were heavy with all fuel onboard our DA42 climbed well up to 18000 feet. It was an odd feeling having more than 2000 nautical miles of open sea in front of you as we flew into the dark. There was no moonlight so there was complete darkness which gave us an incredible view of the stars. Johan and I realized that this was a quite different way of celebrating the swedish Midsummer feast, not bad at all!

The crew at 18000 feet using oxygen

The crew at 18000 feet using oxygen

Since we had a good tailwinds, we chose to set a slighty higher powersetting, resulting in a 147 – 150 kt true airspeed, in combination with the tailwind we averaged over 160 kt all the way over the pacific, not bad att all! After a short night of 8 hours we could se the first rays of light accross the horizon transforming into a stunning runrise just in front of us.

Our route from Hawaii

Our route from Hawaii

Using the oxygen system was a real delight, even if we were sitting at 18000 feet the oxygen system made it feel like you were cruising at 2000 feet, a great feeling! During the crossing we were talking to San Francisco Radio using our HF radio, giving them position reports and ”Operation normal” messages every hour. It was first when we were close to the coastline we could switch over to VHF and make contact with Seattle Center. After getting a new transpondercode we were cleared direct into Crecent City for a visual approach to runway 11.

Sunrise over the Pacific

Sunrise over the Pacific

The flight took only 13 hours, but still it felt good to shutdown the engines, stretch out our legs and go into the small town for a well needed breakfast!

With this flight behind us we are now getting ready to continue south through Mexico and the Carribean Islands.

Over and out!

Written by Henrik


Posted by: Arto Järvinen
Great to see that you made it sound and safe across the Pacific. I have to say I was just a tiny bit nervous for you before this leg. I guess Ängelholm wasn't an option this time. I wish you godspeed for the rest of your journey. And don't get stuck on any Southern California beach, we have lots of work waiting for you...

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