Help Planning a Big Trip

Discussion in 'Cool Places to Fly' started by birdus, Jan 30, 2020.

  1. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Jay Williams
    Although I'm still just a student, I'm working on planning a big trip I want to take after I have my certificate. Let me give the bird's eye view of the plan first.

    Phase I
    Tacoma to Brownsville, TX—5-7 days

    Phase II
    Brownsville to San Diego right along the entire U.S./Mexico border, stopping at airports along the way and walking over into Mexico to sight see and spend the night—around 10 days

    Phase III
    San Diego to Tacoma—5-6 days

    I'm shooting for April, as the weather along the border will be comfortable. Here's my tentative itinerary.

    Phase I
    Thun Field->Twin Falls, ID->Page, AZ->Santa Fe->Alamagordo->Midland->Brownsville

    The only places I'm firm about are Alamagordo (friend there), and, to a lesser extent, Midland, as I own some mineral rights near where my dad was born and raised and I wanted to check out the crazy oil fields there.

    Phase II
    Brownsville->Laredo->Del Rio->Presidio->El Paso->Douglas->Calexico->San Diego (Brown Field)

    I will cross the border in most of these places, but I will plan on landing at airports in addition to these along the border. I plan on flying around 1,000 AGL and around 1,000 feet from the border the entire way (could adjust this). I suspect that will give the best video perspective, and I plan on documenting the entire trip, including 100% of the border. I won't shoot video of 100% of the entire trip, just the border. The rest of the trip will be edited to much shorter video lengths, maybe a 20-30 minute final video per day (all editing done after I get home).

    Phase III
    San Diego (Brown Field)->Los Angeles->Carson City->North Bend, OR->KPUL
    I'd like to land in Amboy for lunch (from LA), fly over Mt. Whitney and maybe through Death Valley, and drive (a rental) from Carson City to Virginia City (Mark Twain lived there), then fly along the coast during the latter part of the trip.

    I plan on flying mostly early in the morning (for smooth air and good light), usually around 4 hours a day. I'm interested in suggestions for airports to visit, either instead of or in addition to those I've listed, although I'll try to land at pretty much every airport along the border, so there probably isn't much in the way of flexibility possible there. My wife will almost certainly not come along, so I'll have full fuel and still be under gross even with whatever I carry with me. Besides airport suggestions, I'm interested in any tips for a new pilot.

    Thanks,
    Jay
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
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  2. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    are you familiar with skyvector? there's no way I'm looking up all those locations, but if you at least filled in a flight plan in skyvector with any airport in each location, it would make it easier for me to visualize the trip. know what I'm saying?
     
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  3. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    yeah, I actually punched in KTIW to KBRO. that's about 1800 miles. there are a gazillion airports in-between. you could get a gazillion different answers.
     
  4. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    For anyone who doesn't have any great suggestions of the top of your head, don't sweat it. I'm sure I'll see plenty of interesting stuff, even without other people's suggestions. In fact, I imagine it would be hard not to have a great trip. By the way, I wasn't expecting one "perfect" answer. If I get lots of suggestions, then that's great!

    Just threw this together in Google maps. This is the gist of the trip.

    LuscombeRoadTrip.PNG
     
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  5. iflyvfr

    iflyvfr Pattern Altitude

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    Now you're talking! There is so much friggin scenery in AZ I couldn't recommend leaving it out unless you've BTDT.
     
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  6. iflyvfr

    iflyvfr Pattern Altitude

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    Why the intense focus on the US/Mex border? I'm truly curious as I've dreamed about a Brownsville to Midland tour from Ohio along the border with plenty of R&R in Big Bend NP.
     
  7. kath

    kath Cleared for Takeoff

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    You will make the Border Patrol very nervous with phase II; this will trip the “suspicious” flag for them. You’ll want to coordinate carefully with CBP in advance, so as to avoid being greeted upon landing by gentlemen with questions.
    (Not an expert in border flying... have just heard stories.)

    Stop in Sedona, AZ, or anywhere around those red rocks...
    How about Kern Valley CA? Very beautiful, has camping and breakfast cafe.
    Columbia, CA, for more nice camping and fun “olde towne” you can walk to.
     
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  8. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    Plus watch out for those big tethered CBP balloons. I saw the one down by Sierra Vista, AZ. Pretty sure there are more, especially along the Texas border.
     
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  9. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    @birdus - what type of plane will you be flying on this trip?

    First thought that comes to mind is a Garmin In-Reach.
    Depending on the plane and total flight hours I'm thinking you'll be needing at least one oil change along the way - where will you do that?
    This is also a long enough trip that along with your regular flying beforehand you might have a AD to comply along the way (eg. 100hr Cessna Seat Rail inspection).
    I wouldn't rule out some early evening flights as well. Its awesome to launch about 2hrs before sunset and land just before sunset when its calm and cooled off. Obviously use your best judgement on that one especially around big tall rocky things and April T-Storms.
    If your plane isn't rigged to fly hands off when trimmed you might want to have that looked at before you leave. Disregard if you have a AP.
    Lots of threads here on survival stuff. Definitely bring at least a couple different credit cards. Lots of 100LL self serve card readers don't take AMEX or Discover.
     
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  10. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route

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    Swing through the Grand Canyon and follow the river to page, then keep following it to Monument valley. If you’re passing through Moab, land and rent a car for a couple hours to drive through Arches National Park. Amazing stuff.
     
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  11. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Please don’t do that.

    If people ask for permission for things that don’t require it, soon they will require it.

    Just do your thing and don’t worry and if confronted don’t resist but don’t help or give info and record everything.


    [​IMG]

    http://www.aopa.org/-/media/Files/AOPA/Home/News/All News/2013/June/CBPGuidelinesKneeboard.pdf
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
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  12. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I love Latin culture and Mexican food and would enjoy spending some time down there, and I also think there would be a lot of interest (including by me) in seeing the border, given the intense politics surrounding it these days.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2020
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  13. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I don't believe that's accurate, but I'll certainly find out. I've e-mailed the FAA and they didn't seem to think much of it. I'll file a DVFR flight plan each day, and I'll be landing at airports along the border that people use every day. In any event, I'll pass the word along.
     
  14. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've found one in Texas on the sectional, but I haven't seen any others along the border. I'll certainly keep my eyes peeled, though. Thanks for the tip.
     
  15. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Lots of great tips and suggestions. I have a Luscombe 8E. Probably should've mentioned that. No auto pilot. I did recently have a remote oil filter installed and so oil change interval is 50 hours, which I estimate will be about the amount of time it take to fly this trip—5,000 miles at 100 mph.

    Thanks again for all the thoughts. Lots of good stuff which I will consider and do!
     
  16. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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  17. Texan Pilot

    Texan Pilot Pre-Flight

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    You might consider that weather may delay your trip and extend you beyond the planned 50 hours. Always have a plan B / contingency. Another POA poster, Peter Ha, recently completed a loooonngg XC from somewhere east of Texas to CA and it took him almost two weeks (IIRC) with several weather delays. Have fun on this trip. It sounds like a great experience!
     
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  18. Martin Pauly

    Martin Pauly Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Lots of cool things and places to see/visit on that route.
    My advice is to give yourself plenty of flexibility for the exact schedule. This kind of trip can be a dream come true in good conditions, or turn into a nightmare in bad weather. So look for clouds and wind, and commit to only proceeding when the weather makes it a no-brainer. You'll have plenty of time to learn how to deal with adverse conditions later on.

    Should be fun!

    - Martin
     
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  19. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for the encouragement and tips, Martin! I appreciate it! I've enjoyed a number of your YouTube videos.

    Jay
     
  20. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Border flight will be in the adiz; rules say flight plan required although most don’t.
    How will you get to Mexico?
    If you fly across there are some requirements, a bit of a pain.
    You likely won’t be able to take a courtesy/crew car across. Most car rentals here say no Mexico trips.
    I wouldnt bother.
     
  21. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Unfortunately, the culture and food you're looking for isn't really "walkable across the border". You really need to go further in country because the border towns are mostly tourist traps these days.

    I lived in Arizona for 7 years, parents lived there 40 yrs. After a while, they wouldn't even go to Nogales, which, in the past, they loved.

    BTW there are balloons and other items along the AZ&NM/Sonora border, along with a LOT and MOAs and such. Take a look at a sectional...lots of AZ and NM (and southern California) belongs to the military.
     
  22. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    As someone who flies in Southern AZ...well because I live in Southern AZ, don't let the Border Patrol, the tethered balloon in Sierra Vista, the UAVs or the MOAs cause much concern. They aren't.
     
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  23. Jim Carpenter

    Jim Carpenter Pre-Flight

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    This looks like a great adventure!
    I would suggest, looking at your proposed route legs across some of the higher elevation areas (Idaho, Utah, Sedona, AZ, Alamogordo, etc., that at some point in your training (if you haven't already), you gain a thorough understanding of high density altitude operations in your plane. If that can't be reasonably done from your home base (Seattle area, right?), then perhaps schedule some training with a CFI based at one of your stops at "the foothills" of the higher country.
     
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  24. wayneda40

    wayneda40 Pre-Flight

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    Jay, awesome trip planned... good for you!

    I second all the comments about "flexibility". Take your time, make cautious decisions, and just relax and enjoy.

    In addition to hopping along the border on the US side, or perhaps partially instead of, I'd suggest at least one flying foray into Mexico. My suggestion would be to depart southwest Arizona or SoCal and fly to San Felipe, Baja California... say for an overnight. That way you learn about flying into Mexico and also get to experience firsthand the "real Mexico". San Felipe is reasonably safe and representative of the Mexico flying experience... and the Baja is strikingly beautiful.

    Some references in this regard that might be of some help in preparations:
    Enjoy every moment, including the substantial and gratifying planning aspects!
    Best regards,
    Wayne
     
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  25. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    For each day's flight, I plan on filing DVFR. I'm not big on rules and obeying bureaucrats, but I intend on sticking by the rules pretty closely along this border trip.

    When the border isn't walking distance from the airport, I plan on taking a taxi/uber to the border. Then, I'll cross on foot. Hopping over into to Mexico at airports along the border is an important part of the trip to me, so I will definitely "bother."

    Jay
     
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  26. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    In 2008, I quit my job and backpacked all over Latin America for about a year. I'm looking forward to discovering what the border towns are like, even if they turn out to be tourist traps. Thanks for your perspective.

    Jay

    http://travelsinlatinamerica.blogspot.com/
     
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  27. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hey, Wayne. Thanks for chiming in and for the encouragement. I guess I felt like flying into Mexico might be biting off more than I could chew. However, at your suggestion, I'll check out those links and do some investigating. I'm certainly not opposed to it, and it might just add even more to the adventure.

    Jay
     
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  28. wayneda40

    wayneda40 Pre-Flight

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    Jay, I believe that a flying foray into Mexico, e.g. San Felipe, would add big time to your adventure! PM me if you'd like to chat in detail about the logistics. If available, I might even volunteer to meet you stateside (e.g. KCXL) and sit right seat in your Luscombe for an overnight stay in the Baja :).
    Buen viaje!
    Wayne
     
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  29. c177tx

    c177tx Pre-Flight

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    Watch your fuel, and call ahead to make sure the fields your plan to land at have fuel, Fuel can be a long way off out in the Big Bend Area. Stop at Terrell County (6R6) to top off before heading down into the Big Bend. Big Bend National Park is a "sensitive nesting area" If I recall you need to be 2000 AGL over Big Bend National Park. Big Bend State Park 3T9 would be a great place to Spend the night. Camp under your wing or sleep in the Bunk House. Very little ground transportation, There is also a Pvt Strip in Terlingua called Fulcher not to be confused with Terlingua Ranch (1ET) I have never landed Fulcher but I understand that you can land there and rent a jeep. Check with some of the local Outfitters they might have up to date information
    https://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/outfitters.htm
    If you can you should drive back thru Big Bend National Park to Rio Grand Village where you can cross the River to Boquillas Mexico, a little Mexican Village. Lajitas has turned into a High priced resort and the airfield (T89) is a long way from the resort, they show to sell fuel now but I would check.Call first it is a Pvt Strip. Back in the day you could land right down by the town on a dirt strip, but now they have built a large runway about 5 miles out of town for jets. This sound like a great trip. I might add that you should head down to Port Aransas Texas then fly the Beach south to the Rio Grande then into to Brownsville for the start of your trip. It would not be much out of your way. I have criss crossed this area many time's on Jeep's, Motorcycles and in My Cardinal.
     
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  30. Fancy

    Fancy Filing Flight Plan

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    Douglas to Calexico on the border will be tough. The R-2301 is one of the busiest restricted areas in the country, even on weekends. Yuma range may let you in but I wouldn't plan on it. Military uses it for Low Altitude Training, Air to Air, etc. CBP flies a lot on the border. Take a look at V66 just in case, or figure out the flying into Mexico thing. Also, watch your fuel on that leg. I've landed at Sells (E78) twice and both times fuel was unavailable. I might have missed when you're doing this but if it's spring/summer bring water!
     
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  31. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Lots of great tips! Thanks!