Going Far VFR: Coast to Coast in a Glasair

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by porttack, Jun 9, 2021.

  1. porttack

    porttack Pre-Flight

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    After a year and change of staying home I was more than ready for a bit of time out of the house. That desire became a long XC. KHWD to W95 and visiting friends along the way in my newish to me Glasair II FT. I'm a low time PPL and hadn't gone further than the neighboring states before and it was quite the learning experience.

    [​IMG]

    The entire trip was 2.5 weeks, with 3 days of flying out and 4 days back. One day of weather delay each way.

    Some stats from the trip:

    Direct 4,438nm

    As flown 5370nm

    Time logged 41.5 hours

    350 gallons of fuel

    $228 in landing and overnight fees

    Total aircraft costs of ~$2500 including an A&P working on a electrical issue.

    Most interesting lessons! All of these are things I had heard of before or should have known better, but still are worth sharing I think.

    • Try to have a good understanding of weather in areas you are unfamiliar with.
    • I had no idea the lines of thunderstorms could run for 1000 miles and be effectively uncrossable.
    • I had flown with high DAs before, but never high DAs that were cause by temperature. Issues with cooling made performance even worse than I expected.
    • Always follow checklists fully. After fueling I did not check one of my fuel tanks caps and of course it hadn't been put on correctly. Ended up losing it on the runway and venting nearly that entire tank coming back around to land.
    And a few nice to know things!

    • FBOs can often book a hotel for you! Sometimes even got a ride to/from.
    • Don't assume tiny ass airports with cheap fuel will have a bathroom.
    • FBO hours are more suggested ideals than reality.
    • Long haired guys from California get searched for drugs in Arkansas. DHS pounding on your door in the middle of the night because they want to search your plane is fun.
    • The entire world is beautiful with a small wing the view.

      Orcacoke Island in the Outer Banks[​IMG]
      Over Minden, MS
      [​IMG]
      Thunderstorms in NM
      [​IMG]
     
  2. William Pete Hodges

    William Pete Hodges Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Sounds like a great trip!
     
  3. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    Excellent trip. Did a 4000nm trip earlier this year and theyre epic. Glasairs are back on my list ever since the market went bananas and RVs got too pricey. Hoping to snag a FG one prior to end of year, market permitting. Congrats on the trip!
     
  4. scarcherpilot

    scarcherpilot Pre-Flight

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    Its a shame you came all that way and didn't visit First Flight (KFFA) you were just down the road a bit from it at W95. I did a 1200 mile trip last October and love your bullet points. I found it cool the way the landscape changed as I crossed various parts of the country. In the SE, airports are every 10 miles....out in Nebraska Wyoming...not so much the case. Makes you feel very lonely when there is nothing to see for endless miles.

    And cut your damn hair hippie! :D
     
  5. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    Sounds like a great trip. More info on the two law enforcement stops would be interesting to me.

    I just completed one from Boston to Cedar City Utah and back in May. We spent 31 days :), 35 hours of flying, and went via TN, TX on the way there and WY, NE, MI, IN, WI on the way back. We had three days of weather delays, all on the way back.

    Tim

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  6. Adam Weiss

    Adam Weiss Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Great Trip!
    Hopefully not your last big one like this!
    Thanks for sharing.
     
  7. Domenick

    Domenick Line Up and Wait

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    Good for you. I've made a couple very long XCs and they are always educational adventures. Do another!
     
  8. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    That's some iron-butt worthy flying right there. Very cool trip. Hopefully you snapped a few more pics to share!
     
  9. porttack

    porttack Pre-Flight

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    I know and I know... Kicking myself for not knowing how close I was. An excuse to go again at least!

    Just the one stop. It was a bit surreal, but not really much to it. Got into Texarkana late. Normal stop at the FBO, left the plane on the ramp and got a hotel. Went to the hotel, had enough time to do a bit of work and get in the shower before there was repeated knocking at the door. Opened it a crack and got shown a DHS badge and asked to step out.

    They kindly allowed me to put pants on before running through the normal 20 questions, who are you, where are you from, can we see your paperwork, etc. Then they tell me a drug dog alerted on my plane and they want to search it and my bag. Went along with that because it seemed less likely they would damage anything if I did.

    They went through my bags and they drove me over to the airport. Then did a hardly thorough search of the plane. Never saw a dog. In the end they thanked me for my time and gave me the ride back to the hotel. The officer giving be a ride spent the entire time talking about how college is ruining the kids, making them liberal.

    Honestly it was everything I expected out of Arkansas. They were polite, but wtf.
     
  10. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    You may have been very lucky they didn't 'find' something that wasn't in the plane when you left it, but was there when you went back out with them to search it.
     
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  11. porttack

    porttack Pre-Flight

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    I think you are correct there, though also not sure what else I could have done. Other than not going to the south.
     
  12. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yeah. Tell them no and who knows what's going to happen next. Anyway, which way was El Paso? Going or coming back home? Did weather make that big 'jog.'
     
  13. porttack

    porttack Pre-Flight

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    Tell them no and get the plane damaged when they search anyway and still 'find' something.
    El Paso was on the way back trying to get around thunderstorms that went from border to border. The search would have made more sense if it had been on the way out.
     
  14. KiloBravo75

    KiloBravo75 Filing Flight Plan

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    Nice trip! I've been contemplating trying to do half of this next year and going to the Outer Banks. Only half for me as I don't live on the opposite coast. How low time are you if you don't mind? I'm a bit concerned about biting off too much as I'm an almost-complete student now, I'd most likely be hovering somewhere around 100 hours when I did this trip. Can't decide if I'd be totally insane and get more time first, or it's just a series of short cross countries that are no big deal given enough time, patience, and flexibility.
     
  15. porttack

    porttack Pre-Flight

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    I had 250 hours when I left, mostly CA coastal and winter mountain time. Really it is just a series of normal XCs, you just have more options. The biggest challenge for me was flying in areas with weather/environments that were completely alien to me. It's one thing to read up on thunderstorms, 110f temps, and runways with 75ft trees at the end etc. It's another to actually see them.

    I'd suggest sitting down with a CFI with relevant experience before going just to talk through your plan. Should be fun!
     
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  16. KiloBravo75

    KiloBravo75 Filing Flight Plan

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    Yeah, I'd for sure be talking it with a CFI ahead of time. For me, 110F temps aren't a surprise and lately have certainly been getting used to weather and thunderstorms. Trees? Yeah I'm going to need some experience there. Or water. Flying from mainland to Ocracoke would be by far the most water I've crossed. Yeah, not a huge deal, but still a different look.
     
  17. Cogito

    Cogito Pre-takeoff checklist

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    No problem, OP will just have to schedule another cross country flight.
     
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  18. Randomskylane

    Randomskylane Filing Flight Plan

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    I’m surprised by the fees. Did you map out your stops before the trip? I guess I’m out of the loop on fees.

    I want to visit friends in chicago and Utah (from Maryland) but haven’t plotted anything out yet (mainly the mountains in Utah)
     
  19. porttack

    porttack Pre-Flight

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    I had some stops mapped out, but weather put me in a bunch of places I didn't plan on. Lots of G fields have a $5 overnight fee (bring cash, it's probably a drop box), C and D varied from $10-$40 for an overnight and landing fee.
     
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  20. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    They are not going to 'find' something. Federal agencies are after real drug smugglers. They are trying to take down cartels by catching mules and using them to roll up the distribution networks. If they are searching rural airports in Arkansas it is because they know from experience those are way stations for traffickers. Not surprising that would be a common stopover going from the Mexican border to the Northeast US. They have no incentive to roll up someone for a wayward joint or plant evidence; it would just be a waste of their time and a distraction from what they are after.

    I have observed working dogs in many environments in the military, and they rarely make mistakes. I have seen men trust their lives to working dogs when clearing land mines. If the dog alerted, not at all surprising they would do a search. They might not even have discretion, depending on agency policy. Most of the time the dog is right.

    Had the OP declined a search, most likely they would have gotten a warrant and he would have wasted a lot more time.
     
  21. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Makes sense
     
  22. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    There is an old post on this board about one of our well-respected and trusted members catching a corrupt Customs official attempting to plant drugs in the plane our board member was flying. The story is an eyewitness account.

    There is no reason to doubt the story. That story would belie your first paragraph.

    With respect to your last sentence, there is one or more accounts that I have read about certain officials that will take searches to an extreme with folks they deem uncooperative - leaving the pilot with a pile of parts from the plane and telling the pilot "good luck" because then the pilot has to hire an A&P to put the plane back together. In that case, "more time" becomes "a long time". That's not just true with planes, though, as the media has been replete with stories of LE breaking up a residence - even when they go to the wrong address - and leaving the homeowner to repair the mess.
     
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  23. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I grew up in Los Alamitos CA and now live in NE Texas married to an Arkansan. The poster's stereotype of Arkansas (and the "south") is as ridiculous and moronic as those who hold the stereotype of Californians as all liberal, communist, and drug lovers. Seems like everyone likes to feel superior to everyone who is not like them.

    I can tell you from living in this area of the country - drugs (meth) are ravaging this area and many families. Most of it is coming in from Mexico.

    Cut the police some slack - the searched you not because you had long hair, but because of you flying a small single piston VFR (probably no flight plan) and where you came from. Many families are desperate to stop the flow of drugs into this area. Cur them a little slack.

    Nice trip though and I am jealous that you had the time to do it. Post more pictures - it looked like alot of fun.
     
  24. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Im not a big fan of law enforcement but I was going to say the same thing. The flight likely fit the profile the DEA look for, thus the search.
     
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  25. geezer

    geezer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I agree you missed a great stop at First Flight. That was one of my first family trips when we got the C172, and had room for the two kids.

    Texarkana search, I think that you did exactly right. I have had several relatively casual searches, and one complete dump. The complete dump followed a single wise crack, and included a trip to the "room" for a physical search. I have had a search in an unlit parking lot, at gunpoint, 4 Federal officers, followed by mug shot and finger prints at their headquarters, then released with no reason for their interest. I cooperated fully, and no one was hurt. Such searches can happen anywhere, including on the Mall, Washington DC in daylight.

    Texarkana was a neat airport when I stopped there between Galveston and Mexico, MO. VFR. Called the tower inbound, reported arriving at the lake, and intending to land. Which lake? We have one North, and one South?

    Your comment about airports every where on the coasts, but not west of the Mississippi is a little off. You have to realize that much of the open land is very useful for a stop, without damage Even fields with crops that are not high, corn obviously is high, can be landed on, and most farmers will help you correct your problem, and wave goodbye with a smile. Nice people in those states.

    The mountains anywhere are what worries me, and causes very high cruise altitudes.

    I am looking forward to additional pictures, with comment when there is something we should notice.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021
  26. porttack

    porttack Pre-Flight

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    Having lived a few places in the south, though not Arkansas, I am pretty sure stereotypes exist for a reason. Hell, if it had been some of my californian neighbors had been stopped they'd be in jail in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere at the moment. Also given that I was one of three east bound small planes to have come from the west that day I am quite sure they decided to grab the one the looked like an easy weed bust as the said that is what the dog smelled. When they didn't find anything they told me someone must have smoked in or near the plane. Their search also wouldn't have found anything someone was actually trying to hide.

    I have lost friends and family to drugs, nearly lost my brother, but this kinda thing isn't helpful to anyone.

    I will give them some credit, they were polite and as pleasant as being yanked out of your room in the middle of the night can be.
     
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  27. geezer

    geezer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Missouri and Kentucky are major sources of domestic illegal weed. Also Meth.

    Someone may have smoked a joint in their car, then drove away, and when the officer came through, the dog signaled. The officer then had to make a judgement call on which plane was most likely to have 'cargo'. You won, sort of. I am glad you were friendly, and he stayed the same. That is how some demographics avoid police brutality.
     
  28. porttack

    porttack Pre-Flight

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    A few more pictures!

    The best office I have found.
    [​IMG]
    Sketchy, but functional control locks.
    [​IMG]
    Quick run over where I lived for a while near Clemson, SC
    [​IMG]

    A surprise view of Fifi!
    [​IMG]

    Not sure if this was Mississippi for Tennessee, but crazy pretty. No matter much time I spend in the east the amount of green is amazing.
    [​IMG]

    Also, what is rain? Somewhere over Texas
    [​IMG]

    And lastly a couple of shots from an 0600 departure from El Paso going West.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  29. KiloBravo75

    KiloBravo75 Filing Flight Plan

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    Sweet you saw Fifi! She flew over my old house really low several years ago when pilot training was more of a pipe dream. That is the most loud and imposing aircraft I ever had come over the house, and I'd had a good assortment of fighter jets flyover there. I couldn't imagine being on the ground in Germany and Japan with a handful of those in the air above. She is hangared at KFTW at a little museum there most of the time if you ever want to see. They have a B-24 too, although since they are both airworthy they are often out for events.

    If you saw a fool in a C152 flying right next to the Texas storm, then you might have seen me. Took off in nice sunny weather, made turn to leave the airport, and a storm like that had popped up in the couple minutes it took to take off. Just made it around the pattern and back to the ground when the downpour hit. It's been weird weather in TX lately, very unpredictable.
     
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  30. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Many years ago when I was a teenager/young adult a road trip would have not been complete without a lengthy visit from the local law enforcers somewhere late at night. :lol:
     
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  31. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Profiles may be right or wrong. For a long time the police have profiled based on color of skin. Right or wrong? Same with type of car a person drives.

    It may well have been legal. It was voluntary, so a warrant wasn't needed. Was the story about the dog true or not? We don't know. "Stings" are legal even though some call the netrapment.

    I think it's healthy to have a discussion on the topic and look at it critically.
     
  32. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I think I would have told them to kindly F-off in the middle of the night. I'd meet them at a reasonable hour if they want to inspect without a warrant. They are free to keep watch over the aircraft until then to ensure it isn't tampered with.

    Sent from my SM-N976U using Tapatalk
     
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  33. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    Definitely Tennessee. MS is almost all flat
     
  34. Grandmother Sumac

    Grandmother Sumac Filing Flight Plan

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    Native Arkansan here. “Polite, but wtf” is an unofficial state motto here. If you pass through again, avoid Texarkana. That place is weird even for us.
     
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  35. Domenick

    Domenick Line Up and Wait

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    The tendency to generalize from a single event into demonizing an entire group is alarming.
     
  36. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yup. And it has reached critical mass. It is literally how we now Govern
     
  37. porttack

    porttack Pre-Flight

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    I guess I should clarify. I have nothing against folks from Arkansas, the state just has policies that had a predictable result that was less than pleasant.
     
  38. cowtowner

    cowtowner Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You made your observation about Arkansas and the policies of Arkansas based upon a search carried out by a FEDERAL agent. Feds aren't from there, they don't care about local laws or policies.

    The agent lied to you about the dog, the Supreme Court has allowed agents to lie to citizens to get them to cooperate. You showed up on their algorithm and the night shift was sent to investigate.

    When I was younger (in my 20's), I fit a profile in the South East, driving a F250 with a camper top on it with out of state tags traveling between north and south Florida on the coastal interstate. I was down there working on job sites, and was pulled over nearly every day. It got to the point I began to tell them to P-Off, get a warrant. They usually let me go as they didn't want to deal with the hassle. The one time they made me wait 4 hours while they attempted to get a warrant, and when I finally got ****ed off and demanded to be able to call my lawyer, they let me go.

    I will never give permission for a search. Get a warrant and I have nothing to say to you. The most trouble my now 31 year old son ever got into with me was when he let the cops search my pickup he was driving. Of course they didn't find anything, but they tore out the headliner in the process. I ended up getting a lawyer and forced the PD to not only pay for the damage, but to change the policy in writing and pay my attorney fees.
     
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  39. PPC1052

    PPC1052 En-Route

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    I have to disagree based on the experience that I had with one of my clients. My client had just bought an aircraft and was flying it home, and just happened to stop over in my state for the night. DHS went to the local sheriff's department to have them do the drug dog routine and, "surprise!", got a hit. He went to the local judge and got a search warrant, and then searched the plane-- an old 180 tail dragger that had been sitting for years before my client bought it out of his uncle's estate. After he searched the plane, and found nothing (despite the video I have of the search where he described some random crumbs in the carpet as marijuana seeds), he woke my client up at the local hotel where he was staying to interrogate him about his trip. He ended up seizing the aircraft and initiating a civil forfeiture action because my client failed to mail in his registration and bill of sale before taking off to return home. The DHS agent, who clearly was not a pilot, gave me this story about how my client had a suspicious flight path because he didn't fly straight, and kept changing altitudes, and further seemed to be trying to fly around radar coverage (how anyone knows exactly where radar coverage starts and stops, I don't know, and my client was flying VFR, so obviously would have had to alter course for cloud clearance.) Although I got no where with DHS, after more than two years, I was finally able to convince the U.S. Attorney to drop the matter and let the guy get his aircraft back without so much as a fine for flying an aircraft on an expired registration. (However, I don't recommend that anyone do that, because it is a felony, believe it or not.) I should add that credit really goes to the client for not backing down from the Feds more than to me. It was never my liberty on the line.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021
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  40. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    This is the Internet - what do you expect! :D
     
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