U.S. Coast Guard Aviator Depends on FlightCalc

On Thursday 16MAY02, U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod was involved in a successful international rescue of 3 sailors off a de-masted sailing vessel 500 miles East of Cape Cod, Massachusetts and 320 miles South of Sable Island, Nova Scotia. Air Station Cape Cod utilized two Jayhawk rescue helicopters and a Falcon jet to fly up to Nova Scotia, then offshore to an oil platform where we stood by while the Air National Guard effected the rescue utilizing a Pavehawk rescue helicopter with in-flight refueling capabilities and two C-130 refueling aircraft. In all, the Air Guard flew approximately 1,000NM over water to complete the mission. Air Station Cape Cod was on standby to rescue the 3 sailors if the Air Guard was unable, and also to rescue the Pavehawk if they were unable to refuel (e.g. Perfect Storm). 

Due to the complexity of the case, we were able to utilize our handheld computer using FlightCalc software in the following ways:
Upon initial notification, we entered the coordinates into FlightCalc. FlightCalc instantly gave us Sunset/Sunrise and distance calculations. We easily computed distances between multiple points, this was particularly important because the case was so far east, it was off our planning charts. Sunset occurred 1hr earlier on scene than at the Air Station where we were planning the mission. Having that information from the start ensured we factored the shortened day into our flight planning.

Our flight planning told us we had two oil platforms and a drilling ship available offshore to provide fuel. We were given the amount of fuel available at each site in liters, and the size of each pad in meters. Using FlightCalc, we completed all conversions accurately in under a minute. It sure was nice to know that 2,900 Liters equaled 766 Gallons and that we could get enough fuel to complete our mission.

We did our preflight planning at 1500Z based on winds out of 330 DG at 30 KTS. FlightCalc allowed us to change our calculations at 2000Z based on the actual winds we were experiencing once we were on the oil platform. FlightCalc gave us many of the same pre-flight planning capabilities we had in the Air Station's flight planning room and more importantly, we were able to make adjustments to know for sure whether we could complete the mission based upon current weather.

The FlightCalc software was invaluable during our initial mission planning and while executing the mission under changing conditions. I carry the program on every mission I fly and find FlightCalc's calculations are typically within 1 KT and one degree of what we actually experience when conducting our missions. We particularly like using the program to calculate Density Altitude (DA). We often fly 12 hr days carrying heavy loads. The increase in DA from the morning to the afternoon is often quite significant. With FlightCalc, we can compute DA in the plane in a matter of seconds. While there are many tools on the ground in flight planning rooms, there are very few that are as easy to use, accurate, and portable enough to be taken along anywhere we fly. FlightCalc is a great tool.
LT Chris Kluckhuhn
U.S. Coast Guard Aviator


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