Maintenance Equipment and Supplies to take along on major trip.


(Excerpts from the book "Friendship Trip of the Americas", Copyright 2004, North American DARCO, Inc. All Rights Reserved)


Apprehensions toward potential mechanical problems occurring when undertaking a major trip can be eased by proper planning and preparation. I thank the good Lord that during my trips around the world no major mechanical problems developed that jeopardized safety or the continuance of the mission. I also believe that the groundwork for a successful multiple stage flight has to be laid long before the magnetos fire that first spark. Prevention is the key word to a successful outcome.


The first step is a thorough annual/100 Hour inspection per the detailed Beechcraft checklist supplemented by any special items that may be applicable to your aircraft, such as equipment added under an STC. You may even want to borescope the cylinders by an experienced technician who can interpret the observations.


Next you should consider fixing/replacing any items that, although they are passable by inspection standards at the time, they may not reach a dependable life at the conclusion of the trip. These include: Alternator, magnetos, spark plugs, instrument air pump, oil & filter, brakes, battery, tires, etc.. My normal operating practice has been to periodically replace these items before their expected failure. For example, it is a well known fact that the direct drive alternator has a bearing failure problem and these should be replaced every 300 hours. Likewise if you believe that your vacuum pump will exceed 500 hours of operation, you are kidding yourself and setting your flight for an in-motion failure, delays and a possible expensive repair at a remote facility.


Of course the advent of overnight shipping services has done wonders for delivery of parts around the globe. But what about bureaucratic delays caused by customs clearances? I recently spoke with a Mooney pilot who frequently flies from California to Peru and had a nose wheel tire blow out on landing. Getting the new tire took more than a month and cost him $1,700.00.


Lastly you should always carry along some absolute essentials for any flight:


Tool box

Resealable bags

Good screwdriver with changeable tips (flat and Phillips)

Needle nose Vise-grip

Duct tape.



Additional items that should be carried if space/weight allows:


A/C quality spark plug socket (Champion brand)

Ratchet wrench and basic 3/8-inch drive set

Smaller 1/4-inch drive socket set

Basic set of combination wrenches and hex keys (nothing larger than 3/4 inch and be certain to include a 3/32-inch hex for radios).

Medium crescent wrench

Needle nose pliers with wire stripper

Safety wire pliers

Plastic head hammer

Tire gauge and valve core extractor

Two spark plugs (gaped and with washers)

Landing light

Spare vacuum pump (if it is a critical item and there is not a back up on board)

Spare inner tube of each size tire and/or patches

Spare tire (s)

Spare alternator and belt

Electrical tape

Assorted tie wraps

Silicone seal

Safety wire

Emery cloth

Hacksaw blades

Flat file

Hand cleaner and towels (packed in bags).


For a further complete tool/consumable kit include also:


Set of Jeweler's screwdrivers

Dentist pick

Slip joint pliers

Inspection mirror

Magnetic and "magic finger" type of pick-up tool

Small multi-meter

#18 or #20 Teflon wire (5 feet)

Battery powered trouble light

Assorted hardware (including: cotter pins, bolts, washers, nuts,etc..)

Oil and filter

Penetrating oil

Electrical contact cleaner

Mil-H-5606 Hydraulic fluid

the ultimate "god-forbid if you need it" spare: an entire cylinder assembly that includes piston, rod, valves, etc..


I don't mean to scare you off from your planned trip with this warning. In my recent trip around South America covering 15,500 Nautical Miles and 30 stops, I observed excellent spare parts inventories and good mechanics at most airports. At Buenos Aires' Don Torcuato airport there is a Beechcraft dealer that can even overhaul your Continental and perform major airframe repairs. There are even Wichita factory mechanics based there who maintain the USAF King Air 300 used by the ambassador.


Happy Flying.