Transponder is the avionics component that communicates with ATC radar during flight. When flying IFR (Instrument Flying Rules), a unique code is assigned by ATC to each plane, this code when entered in the transponder of the plane, acts as an ID tag on each dot (the radar image of the plane) on their screen, ATC then can recognize each plane and communicate with the pilot when needed.
My transponder key pad has been sticky since the Middle East (temperature inside the plane while parked outside in Sun was probably around 150 degrees!). But today the transponder (Garmin GTX 330) key pad stopped working completely. Only code I could put in is 1200, by pressing VFR (Visual Flight Rules) key. Foreign aircraft are not allowed to fly VFR in Japan without a special permit (another 72 hour deal). Russia probably has similar rules. So, again I am stuck with an unforeseen problem.
Only thing I could think of was to call Garmin Osaka office. Unfortunately, they are closed due to Japanese holidays until Wednesday. They too probably will need the transponder to be sent back to factory for repair. Minimum of two weeks solution. Getting a new one from States, again same time frame, not practical. While pondering upon my situation, I probably looked pretty desperate, as the Noevir mechanic (Noevir Aviation are my handlers in Japan) decided on his own to look through their Avionics shelves, just in case they might have one laying around. As luck would have it, he found an old transponder similar to mine on the shelf. Surprisingly, it is working too! I really believe, some Angels are following me to make sure I get through this journey. I really don’t know what, but I must have done some good somewhere in my life!
The two Noevir mechanics worked hard to replace my transponder. I now have a loaner transponder installed in my plane (I will return it after I get back) and ready for flying to my next destination Aomori, Japan. This will be my last stop in Japan and I need Russian permits before I can depart Aomori. I am hoping the Russian permit will arrive by the time I get to Aomori. If not I will stay in Aomori until I get it. At least I am continuing to make progress and hope to be back in USA soon. I am just tired of the documentation/permits requirements during this RTW.
Next stop Aomori, Japan!