Cross Country Help - Florida to California

Discussion in 'Cool Places to Fly' started by Shawn Britton, Dec 28, 2019.

  1. Shawn Britton

    Shawn Britton Filing Flight Plan

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    I recently purchased a new LSA (Bristell) that I'm going to be flying from Central Florida to Northern California in a few weeks (End of January). I would love some help, ideas and suggestions on how to make this a fun and safe trip. I will be traveling with another pilot and plan to fly only during the day.

    My planned route (via Foreflight) would look something like:

    KSEF KINF FA36 40J KMAI 30.96173/-85.57864 30.84431/-87.00690 30.77378/-87.59163 KBFM M13 KMCB KHEZ KAEX 31.51477/-93.07011 3R4 KLFK KCLL KGTU KBMQ KJCT KOZA KFST KVHN KELP 32.13410/-106.99044 KDMN KLSB 32.23789/-109.06258 32.35086/-109.66769 P33 E77 A39 33.49925/-112.92762 33.68122/-114.06945 KBLH KPSP KCNO KWHP 34.43302/-118.59106 CL46 KBFL KFAT KSCK KMHR

    I haven't selected spots to stop, this is just the general route. Ideally I'd like to end each day at a Class D airport to make sure I have access to fuel, repairs, food and hotel.

    Obviously weather will dictate much of this trip but looking to do this in about 4-5 days at a safe altitude (6,500-10k). Ideally I would like to break it up into 2-3 hour segments to stop for fuel, food, bathroom.

    Are there any must-stop locations / FBOs?

    Any guidance on the Arizona / New Mexico / So Cal section?

    Best way to traverse the LA basin?

    There were a lot of MOA congestion in Alabama that I'm not sure what to make of.
     
  2. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    You don’t need to stop at class Ds. Go to Airnav.com, they tell if the airport has maintenance and use link to google maps to find out if hotels are close by. I pick airports that have hotels within walking distance. On a charts these are usually airports in or at city boundaries or by a highway, see below example.
    Southern route probably will have best weather. Always land before closing so you can get the gate codes and assistance if needed. Take off as early as you can, the ride can get bumpy in the afternoon, especially west of Dallas. Use flight following. I usually skip by LA, I did it once for fun.
    [​IMG]

    I would bring basic tools, oil, backup EFB (don’t forget charger).
    Tom
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
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  3. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    Can't give advice as to stops as I'm a northern boy that never sees that part of the country.

    Just from past experience making a long cross country, Juneau, AK to Chicago it seems like what I planned and what actually took place changed be flexible. After 2 or 3 days in the air things change. Update flight plan often and have alternatives laid out with tower, ground and FFS frequencies.

    As @MooneyDriver78 mentioned bring oil and basic tools.

    Have fun and keep us updated with pictures

    By the way my Juneau to Chicago trip took 3 1/2 days. Plane was a Beech Sport a bit slower then your Bristell. I flew two 4 hour legs and one 2 hour leg each day.
     
  4. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Across the country is just a series of smaller cross country flight.

    You've said weather, I'd add to be mentally prepared for staying on the ground. West bound trips can take longer and you can be grounded longer since the weather will take time to move toward you. If you're running up against a deadline to be back, leave the airplane and fly home commercial and plan to come back next weekend.
     
  5. kath

    kath Cleared for Takeoff

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    Let us know when you begin this trip! We may pass each other in the air; I'm heading eastward, and hoping to get to Florida by sometime in February... I just came through the Cochise/Deming/Lordsberg part of your route yesterday. All of those places are along I-10. I'm a proponent of the "follow a highway" philosophy when it comes to navigation through mountainy routes; the road-builders have already put a lot of thought into finding the easiest way. Most of the time. :)

    Agree with others that Class D is not a necessity, some Class E's have good amenities. Another strategy for finding them is to look for places with a restaurant on the field (using eatattheairport.com, or fly2lunch.com, or whatever EFB tools you like). That usually indicates that a) there are humans there, and b) that if you get stranded there at least you won't starve. :)

    Wish I could give more specific advice... I'm exploring this part of the country for the first time myself. Bring a nice warm jacket, hat/scarf/gloves - it gets cold in the high desert. Be willing to abandon plans and follow the weather. Enjoy the journey!
     
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  6. N1120A

    N1120A Cleared for Takeoff

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    I prefer towered airports, but folks are right in saying some non towered ones will be an even better choice. Check nearby services and whether there is a mechanic on the field.
     
  7. Shawn Britton

    Shawn Britton Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks for the ideas and advice. I'm sure there are good choices at non-towered airports and will be a case-by-case basis.

    Was hoping someone noticed a new airports along the way that they would highly recommend based on something unique or memorable about them. I know as I get out West more there could be some real hidden gems worth visiting.
     
  8. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    When I’ve traveled, it’s more about getting to the destination to see friends, less about it being a flying version of the “family vacation “. I may divert to see the Grand Canyon or whatever but the airport I select is because of convenience. Can’t help you there.


    Tom
     
  9. Weekend Warrior

    Weekend Warrior Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I make a couple of long (800 nm +) flights in my Warrior every year. The only airports I avoid are Class Bs. Although I mainly use non-towered airports, I don't seek them out, nor do I intentionally avoid D's / C's either, its just the non-towered are WAY more common. As others have said, limiting yourself to Ds is probably not the way to go. The best advice I can give you for picking airports is to use Airnav, the AOPA app, and even google map view for services like fuel, hotels, rental cars, etc.
     
  10. Weekend Warrior

    Weekend Warrior Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
  11. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Regarding the Arizona and SoCal portions of the route ...

    I don't know much about P33 and E77, except there's a lot of rough, remote terrain between them. I prefer staying closer to I-10. Benson (E95) is a good stop. Tell Roy at the FBO a clean joke, and he'll give you a discount off the fuel price. The courtesy car is not to be missed - a gorgeous 1955 Dodge Coronet with three-on-the-tree.

    My personal preference westbound from E95 would be via TUS (with a view of the Davis-Monthan AFB "Boneyard" on your right), V66 GBN KBXK. The huge area south of Phoenix, especially around the Stanfield VORTAC, Casa Grande airport, Coolidge and Eloy, is crazy-busy with flight training and parachute operations. I like to stay well south of TFD VORTAC, and be on Flight Following. If you don't have ADS-B out, you'll have to stay out of the Phoenix Mode C veil anyway.

    Buckeye Airport (KBXK) is not much to look at, but has reasonably cheap fuel, and there is maintenance on field. Area flight schools often send their students to Buckeye (as well as just about every other uncontrolled field in the area) for pattern work, and there are parachute and glider operations on weekends. From there it's a straight shot via BLH toward the Los Angeles area.

    My preference is not to. My usual route from AZ to central California is BXK BLH L22 LUCER KWJF AMONT. It stays upwind of the passes, avoiding most of the turbulence if there are strong winds; and it avoids the heavy traffic and complex airspace of the L.A. Basin. KWJF has a nice on-field restaurant, and I've heard that KAPV's recently-reopened restaurant is really good, too.

    If you do choose to go through Banning Pass and traverse the L.A. Basin, study the VFR Flyway chart for the area (it's in Foreflight). I usually go from KBNG northwest toward KSBD, then stay north of the I-210 freeway all the way up past the northeastern perimeter of the Burbank Class C -- and I stay on Flight Following all the way.

    If you don't have ADS-B out, forget about the L.A. basin.

    There's no hard-and-fast rule on that. I'm based at a busy Class D with an 8500-foot-long runway, a huge airline-owned flight training school, a big FBO that caters to bizjets ... and zero maintenance available to transient GA piston aircraft. Fifteen miles to the west KBXK, mentioned above, though a sleepy uncontrolled field and miles from the nearest town, has a good shop on the field.

    Interesting stops that are not quite on your route ...

    -- Sedona (KSEZ). Spectacular. Good restaurant on field, as is a motel with amazing views.

    -- Lake Havasu City (KHII). Good airport with a neat little brewpub (opens 11 am) onfield right next to the FBO. Drive into town and see the London Bridge, which was moved stone-by-stone from the Thames River to Lake Havasu City in 1970 by developer/oilman/chainsaw magnate Robert McCulloch.

    Have a good trip. Report back, and post photos!
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
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  12. Shawn Britton

    Shawn Britton Filing Flight Plan

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    Wow! Thanks for the detailed info! That was extremely useful and I look forward to sharing details as the trip progresses.
     
  13. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    West Texas-Southern New Mexico:

    Don't use KVHN as a waypoint, they don't "officially' sell fuel ... KPEQ (Pecos) has 2 runways if needed, and the line from there to El Paso (KELP) will reduce mechanical turbulence off of Guadalupe Peak and the mountains at Van Horn (you'll be splitting them).

    If south of I-10 near Deming, pay attention the restricted area for the balloon they use to 15000 MSL, in high wind that cable can move around quite a bit.
     
  14. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    Did that exact flight from FL to Nor Cal when I bought my 182.

    My advice...don't overplan unless you have a specificities destination you wanna see and stop at. Have an objective and goals, but you need to stay flexible. While we flight planned every leg, rarely did we stop at any of those destinations adjusting for weather, real time conditions and how we felt as we went. Having the wealths of information with Foreflight at our fingertips made choosing alternates easy peasy.

    I agree no need to stick to Deltas...the most memorable part of the trip was landing at some random podunk airport for fuel, meeting the old vet that ran the filed and grabbing a crew car to get food on the local's recommendations.

    Fly IFR...I Follow Roads. Except for diverting around some weather up through Georgia, we just tracked I-10 all the way west...easy peasy.

    Even though it s not the hot summer months...get wheels up just at or right before sunrise and you will then better flying conditions. Wheels up just in time to catch the sunrise can be pretty spectacular as well.

    For SoCal transition we stoped at Vegas for the night then cut across Bakersfield then up. I-10 through Riverside>GMN is easy peasy depending on winds or is ONT>BUR>GMN>Nor Cal...or if you want the scenic route ONT>BUR then up the coast to SBA.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2020
  15. Shawn Britton

    Shawn Britton Filing Flight Plan

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    Getting close to starting the trip. I'm heading back to Sebring, FL to pick up with plane on Jan 23-ish. I believe John Rathmell, with BRM Aero/Bristell, will be flying home with me for the trip. I've gotten some really good ideas here and through my IG account and looking forward to this once in a lifetime adventure.

    For those who would like to follow along on Instagram, my profile is "n752papaxray"
     
  16. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Good luck on your journey,that trip is on my bucket list.
     
  17. kath

    kath Cleared for Takeoff

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    Bring snacks!
    Use flight following!
    Take pictures!
    Keep us updated!
    Pee before every flight!
    Talk to strangers at airports!
     
  18. RIlls

    RIlls Filing Flight Plan

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    If you need to stop for weather, pick a good place to possibly spend the night if you have to, which might be the airport you just passed 10 minutes ago, not the one right ahead of you.

    All part of the adventure...
     
  19. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    Will you have some type of ADS-B or XM weather feeding a piloting app while airborne? On a longer x-country it would be extremely helpful. Having fuel prices & Notams available while flying is great for adjusting on the fly.

    I like better equipped, non-towered airports, like an ‘easy off, easy on’ exit on the freeway.

    Just check on airspace as you go, FF or the ‘controlling’ agency. Much of the time it’s cold, or only active above your altitude, depending.

    Never have any fixed plan in mind, flexibility is key to a safe trip.
     
  20. Shawn Britton

    Shawn Britton Filing Flight Plan

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    Excited to get this trip underway. Flying from Sacramento to Orlando via Delta on 1/22...driving down to KSEF. Little transition training and will likely start the trip 1/25. Looks like we should have good weather all the way back (knock on a giant frigg'n piece of wood).

    Some updates here, but mostly on Instagram: N752PAPAXRAY https://www.instagram.com/n752papaxray/
     
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  21. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    If you had to pick an RON spot in the valleys north of LA (final destination KSNS, coming from Central TX in a 130kt spam can), which one do you think would be the most convenient in the context of towing the family along (hotels, food, ease of pickup/drop off of ground transportation et al)?

    I suppose I could just as easily use SBD in the LA side, but I rather not get caught dealing with the kabuki of departing IFR from the LA Basin the next morning; that chit looks like being at work and this is a for fun trip lol. Don't know much about that area/El Cajon pass to know if it would be a reliable way of cutting through VFR in the morning, vice a much easier desert valley departure. The trip will likely be in early June.
     
  22. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    In terms of proximity to hotels, probably Victorville (2 miles), Mojave (~ 1 mile) or Tehachapi (< 1 mi). Both Apple Valley and Fox (Lancaster) are pretty far from any kind of lodging, unless you count the L.A. County Prison ... :confused:

    If you choose to stop earlier, there are hotels within a couple of miles of my home drome, KGYR, 20 miles west of KPHX. Lake Havasu City [KHII] is a unique stop, hotels 2-5 miles away, plus the touristy London Bridge area.

    Good chance of "June Gloom" coastal low clouds or fog in the L.A. Basin then. Staying north of the coastal mountains is probably a good idea.
     
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  23. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    That's what I figured looking at the topography. I bet it's reliably morning CAVU north of the San Gabriels that time of year.

    Thanks a ton for the area PIREP! Looks like Victorville probably has the best blend. I was planning on using KAPV as just a technical stop on my way to doing the whole nut in one day, but with a RON it looks like KVCV may be the ticket just on the FBO convenience, and just eat the fuel premium.

    I do have the PHX area as a backup in case the family cries uncle early. Thanks again!
     
  24. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    This pic was taken many years ago, looking south over VCV in the foreground (when it was still George AFB), the coastal clouds climbing up through Cajon Pass, and Santiago Peak ("Saddleback Mountain") in the background.

    PICT0609.JPG

    PM me if I can be of any assistance in this neighborhood. :)
     
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