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citymouse
04-07-2006, 05:21 PM
Hello, perhaps someone can help me here. I'm currently writing a novel in which a Beechcraft Hawker 800XP takes off from a small private airport just north of Philadelphia PA, headed for Iceland. Coordinates are: 64° 8’ N 21° 56’ W.



Unfortunately the Beechcraft manufacturer does not detail the plane's radio capabilities (there are probably custom upgrades to a std. pkg.).



Anyway, my questions are: Are these the correct coordinates for a flight from Philly to Iceland? I believe they are but I want to make sure.



Would a small private airport have the radio range to contact a plane 500 miles out, assuming the plane could even pick up the signal?
This is important to the story because I have a chase plane (a privately owned SST—yeah I know but this is fiction!) after the Beechcraft.

Thanks!

Micchael Halfhill

alleycat
04-08-2006, 02:44 AM
I used to fly out of a small town airport (it was actually a better airport than for most for a town its size; it had two runways, both over 5000 feet long).

A Beechcraft is an expensive plane; it's not unusual for an owner to add advanced avionics of all sorts.

A private airport, or even a small municipal airport, would not normally have the radio range to reach out 500 miles. The FAA (and the international equivalent) assigns frequencies for airports to use and they're typically low power because another airport 500 miles away might be assigned the same frequency (I'm not sure off-hand what criteria they use to determine the range between frequencies). There are also "general purpose" frequencies if I recall correctly.

A plane can "dial in" a variety of frequencies; it might be that someone at your small airport is using the equivalent of ham radio and the plane could receive that signal IF it knew what frequency to listen to. I'm not sure about this. Whether the plane could pick up a signal depends mostly on the power of the signal sent out and how clear the signal is and not what equipment it has onboard. Replying is another matter.

For a story plot, it would be easier to make this work IF the small plane is listening for communications from the private airport. If it's not, it would be difficult to make it realistic I believe. Can you have the airport contact the FAA Flight Service Center and have them try to contact the plane? If it's needed, you could have the small airport lie about why it needs to contact the plane (make up some life threatening reason).

That's not a complete answer, but I hope it helps a little.

ac

citymouse
04-08-2006, 03:26 AM
Thanks, AC you saved the scene! Although this is fiction it still needs to be as accurate as possible in the details--i.e. I can have a fellow with an SST in his garage but it has to conform to the laws of applied physics.

As for this story, I don't address the issue of whether the Beechcarft is on frequency or even if the pilot wan't to be contacted. What's going on is a private detective is trying to track a bad guy. He takes a header and tries the bad guy's airport to see if the he's flown off into the WBY. As it happens he has but he's at least an hour out--at ~500mph. According to you I guessed correctly that the airport contol tower wouldn't be able to hail the plane on regular frequencies from 500 miles.

For my chase plane (an SST) I'm using Concorde stats. That means for the Beechcraft to make Iceland before the SST it will need at least a 3.5 hour head start.

My calculations on the lattitude/longitude are as the crow flies. I'm hoping none my readers will be able to call me on it!

Thanks again,
Michael Halfhill

alleycat
04-08-2006, 03:32 AM
A small airport, private or municipal, wouldn't have a control tower; those are only used at busy airports. A small airport has maybe a guy at the airport shack and a wind sock.

You could easy look up the coordinates for the airport in Iceland if you know what city the plane is flying to. I have maps and things, but they're all for the US. Just Google for it.

ac

citymouse
04-08-2006, 04:24 AM
Thanks again. In the story I don't refer to a control tower. That was just my expression here.
I did the co-ordainates for Philly to Iceland (64° 8’ N 21° 56’ W).
But I recall everytime fly to Rome the plane ends up over Nova Scotia. Skyways never seem to take a straight line. As I said it's unlikely anyone will email me after publication and complain I got it wrong.
MH

alleycat
04-08-2006, 04:31 AM
Long distance flight paths are sometimes refered to as the "great circle route". You might enjoy looking that up.

I have a good friend who's a commercial pilot for an airline. If you have more questions, send me a PM or post them here and I'll forward them to him. He's more up on things than I am. Plus, I basically flew single engine Cessnas in my own backyard, so to speak.

ac

citymouse
04-08-2006, 04:23 PM
Ah yes, the "great circle". Well I think I'll leave that alone. Thanks for the offer though.

No wall I have to do is get this story wrapped up.

Best regards,
Michael

MadScientistMatt
04-10-2006, 04:46 AM
Thanks again. In the story I don't refer to a control tower. That was just my expression here.
I did the co-ordainates for Philly to Iceland (64° 8’ N 21° 56’ W).
But I recall everytime fly to Rome the plane ends up over Nova Scotia. Skyways never seem to take a straight line. As I said it's unlikely anyone will email me after publication and complain I got it wrong.
MH

Many pilots have maps that show all Great Circle routes, or many of them, as straight lines. I can't remember the name of that style of map off-hand, but they're not too hard to find.

MadScientistMatt
04-10-2006, 07:58 PM
One other thought on private SST's. After the Iron Curtain started to fall, many former Soviet Block countries sold all sorts of things from their military aresnals - sometimes on the black market, but often sold openly. Quite a few MiGs and other military jets have found their way into private hands. I've heard that the street price for a MiG-21 was around $200,000 for one in good working order a few years ago, without its weapons. Just a thought if you want to give your story some extra plausibility.

ideagirl
04-11-2006, 02:06 AM
a Beechcraft Hawker 800XP takes off from a small private airport just north of Philadelphia PA, headed for Iceland. Coordinates are: 64° 8’ N 21° 56’ W. ...Are these the correct coordinates for a flight from Philly to Iceland? I believe they are but I want to make sure.

I'm confused by the question. Those coordinates describe a single point on the earth's surface, not a trajectory over the earth's surface. Those are the latitude and longitude of a specific place, namely Reykjavik... in other words, those are the coordinates of Reykjavik, not of "a flight from Philly to Iceland." And you wouldn't just point yourself towards those coordinates and fly there--that is, you wouldn't fly straight from Philly across the ocean to Reykjavik. The normal process, in a small plane, is to fly over land for as much of the trip as you possibly can, so you would fly up the eastern seaboard and Newfoundland before heading out over the north Atlantic to Iceland. You fly over land in order to be able to land for refueling, eating, and peeing, and also in case you run into problems and need to land. (Most pilots are hyper-vigilant about safety... they're not going to head out over the ocean without good reason, unless they're what you call a "bold" pilot, but as the aviation saying goes, "there are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.") I don't have any idea how far a Beechcraft can fly without refueling, but you can check that with the manufacturer.


Would a small private airport have the radio range to contact a plane 500 miles out, assuming the plane could even pick up the signal?

I highly doubt it, but I defer to anyone else here who's more knowledgeable. One reason I doubt it is because there is normally no reason for a small airport to contact a plane that's that far away, and vice versa. If a small plane is in trouble and needs to contact an airport, or if it needs weather updates or whatever, it will contact the airport closest to it, and airports are much more frequent than one every thousand miles (that's how far apart airports would have to be for a plane to be 500 miles from the closest one). And if planes are being guided by air traffic controllers (which wouldn't be the case for small planes unless they were landing at major airports or flying in really congested airspace, but I'm just mentioning this as an example of how communication with planes is handled), the planes are vectored from point to point by different controllers--like, controller A covers such-and-such an area, so he vectors planes within that area, but when the plane leaves that area, controller B picks it up.

AND small planes generally don't fly at particularly high altitudes, so you're more likely to run into topographical issues that make radio communication over long distances impossible. Or, to put that more succinctly... hills! But then again, I have no idea how high the plane you're writing about flies.

citymouse
04-11-2006, 05:10 AM
Hello IG. I didn’t intend to be confusing. I’m just tidying up some details to a novel that’s already written.

I wasn’t referring to a trajectory but the actual co-ordinate. I know it’s for Reykjavik.



According to the manufacture the Beechcraft Hawker 800XP can fly up to 2,961 with out refueling. That’s more than enough to make Reykjavik from Philly. Her high speed is 500mph. Her maximum altitude is 41,000. As AC noted this is an expensive jet.

This particular pilot may not be bold however; he’s reckless because he’s headed for a 4 million dollar payoff if he delivers his cargo (human) by a deadline. That’s plenty incentive for the lowlife he is. I guarantee he won’t be going via Newfoundland.



The original question was whether a small independent airport would have the radio power to contact this plane if it the plane had made 500+ miles. The consensus is no.

It’s only important because the good guys don’t want anyone at the airfield to alert the bad guy in the Beechcraft either by direct radio.



Keep in mind this is fiction. As long as I stay within the parameters of the Beechcraft Hawker manufacture’s stats I’m okay. All I want is for the plane to do what I need—fly non-stop to Iceland (I’m giving it a very strong tailwind).The pilots flying habits are immaterial to the story.



The SST in pursuit is a complete fiction. I did use the Concorde’s air speed to calculate time. But the Beechcraft has a good five hour head start. This novel isn’t about air travel and it’s only in this scene that it appears.



The final scene takes place on Murderküll glacier—a fictional locale.



Thanks for all the information. I printed it as it may come in handy in my next in the Jan Phillips saga.

Michael

FlyByNight
04-14-2006, 08:58 PM
Hi,
I'm a pilot of a DC8 frieghter. It seems that you have come up the the answer that you wanted. Feel free to PM me if you have any aviation questions in the future.

Jamesaritchie
04-15-2006, 03:00 PM
I'm probably way out of date on this, but when I flew small planes about thirty years ago, we were lucky if we could get the airport from twenty-five miles, let alone five hundred. Shoot, half the time five miles was a safe bet.

Then again, I was a sometimes pilot, and only flew out of three cow pattie airports. The smallest airport not only didn't have a control tower, you were lucky if anyone was on the radio at all. Assuming the radio was even working.

citymouse
04-15-2006, 03:15 PM
Thanks FBN and James for your input. When I wrote the scene I felt I was on safe ground. The airfiled is supposed to be on the outskirts of Philadelphia and the time line is current. That meant that I had to figure a way to divert the reader away from wondering about that. I also had to explain away why no one is using cell phones. The modern age sure makes writing simple plots complicated!

Michael