Lessons learned during this trip:
9. If I were to do it again, I'd spend more time trying to contact flying clubs at my intended stopping points. When I met people everywhere, they were most helpful. If I'd contacted them ahead of time they could have helped me out even more.
8. I'd planned to leave most countries on a Monday or Friday. On three occasions, I couldn't leave on the Monday and had to depart on a Tuesday. If permits are an issue, it's difficult to get a response on a weekend and more likely to come through on the Monday. If you are expecting overnight mail or charts, most other countries don't deliver on weekends, so Monday arrival is more likely meaning a Tuesday departure.
7. Filing flight plans: many countries require VFR flight plans if you are entering ATC airspace, ie landing at a controlled airport. It's no fun to have the engine running, looking for taxi clearance only to find you have to shut down and run back to the terminal.
6. The necessary forms to exit usually include customs, General Declaration document; immigration, your passport and maybe a visa; landing and parking fees paid - if not, tower could stop your departure. India also requires a security stamp and ATC briefing and met briefing stamps. Remember to do all these and departure is relatively simple.
5. More weather charts across the Indian ocean: aviationweather.co.za was very helpful
4.Talk with the locals in each city and country. They are usually available to help you out and very knowledgeable with local information or where to get the information. Knowing the local procedures can save headaches with ATC and other planes and pilots. I spoke with tower controllers in Pago Pago, Auckland and Nelson and with local pilots around Auckland and Whangarei. Each person added to my knowledge and ability to work better within the system.
3. Customs Declaration Forms. You will be expected to have these filled out when you want to enter and leave each country. Many countries have them available, some do not. Print out a few blank copies and have them ready.
2. Although not mandatory, other countries will expect to see a customs clearance form for when you leave the US. I left without one, but American Samoa thought I needed one. A day later, I received an email from the person in Hilo, Hawaii who tried to find me before I left to give me my form. Therefore, try to contact US customs prior to leaving Hawaii.
1. Two of the most helpful weather web sites that got me across the Pacific:
http://www.goes.noaa.gov/WINDS/windsNHIRW.html If this doesn't link, stop at .gov and look under winds in the left hand column.
http://aviationweather.gov/awc/aviation_weather_center.html If this doesn't link, stop at .gov and work through list on left side.
These gave me satellite pictures of the Pacific Ocean and forecast winds. You can see fronts, storms, cyclones, etc. I changed my schedule based on these charts.
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