The primary aircraft we use is a 1978 Cessna 310R, which has 6 seats, can fly 5 1/2 hours at a time, and can carry at least 13 animal crates of various sizes. The plane flies at 190 knots true airspeed, and her name is “Spirit“, thanks to Dean’s daughter Sophie.
We have equipped this aircraft with significant redundancy. As a twin engine plane, it already has 2 engines, 2 vacuum pumps, 2 alternators for electricity, and 4 gas tanks that are usable on both engines. We’ve also added 2 Aspen 1000 electronic flight displays, with backup battery power for each. We have an instrument-capable Garmin 530W GPS to navigate, and keep a backup Stratus 2+ GPS connected at all times. We always bring 2 iPad’s to navigate with, and make sure they’re both fully charged prior to departure and of course keep them charging while flying. Although we have some icing protection, Spirit is not capable of flying into known icing conditions, so during the winter our missions often get delayed from the DC area. We fly out of KJYO which has RNAV and ILS approaches available, and is just 5 minutes flying from Dulles (KIAD) which has fantastic services available should we ever need them.
We are also talking with owners of a Cessna 182 and a Cessna 441, both very capable aircraft fitting different mission profiles. The 182 will be useful for shorter flights, smaller loads for a similar cost structure to the 310. The 441 is a very fast, capable, high-flying twin turboprop aircraft that’s quite comfortable well above most weather and happy to fly right through icing conditions in the winter. Although more expensive to operate, the 441 is significantly larger than the 310 and should be useful on occasional missions that the 310 would be unable to fly.