My adventures have taken place in a great variety of aircraft, chosen to suit the trip at hand. In more recent times I have been flying N9953H, a 1981 Cessna 182 R model, which is heavily modified to make it even better suited for long distance, adventure type flights. In reference to the “Boaty McBoatface” story that played out in the British media; this aircraft is affectionately known as “Planey McPlaneface”.

N9953H parked up for the night in Wyoming

Even before the latest round of modifications, N9953H was already well set up for long distance exploring; an upgraded 270hp “PPonk” engine with JPI EDM830 engine monitor, 88 gallon fuel tanks (giving an endurance of nearly 8 hours), and a solid instrument setup including a 2-axis S-Tec 30 autopilot and a Garmin GNS430W GPS navigator.

It has been further fine-tuned for flying adventures with the addition of two Garmin G5 solid state Artificial Horizon and Directional Indicator instruments, allowing the removal of the older, less reliable vacuum powered gyroscopic instruments. The Garmin GTX330 transponder has been upgraded to a Garmin GTX345 ADS-B in/out transponder, and the old Garmin 496 GPS has been replaced with a modern touch-screen Garmin Aera 660. The Garmin GMA340 audio panel was replaced with a PS Engineering PMA450B, and the GNS430W replaced with an Avidyne IFD540.

The current instrument panel setup of N9953H

The aircraft is fitted with a pair of auxiliary fuel tanks from Flint Aero. These provide another 23 gallons, giving the airplane a 10 hour endurance and range of more than 2,000km. Panel-mounted USB charging ports have been added to keep portable devices running on long flights or when out camping.

Rounding out the modifications are Stene Aviation wing-tip LED landing lights, and BAS 4-point inertia-reel harnesses.