Luscombe Road Trip—Wish me luck!

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by birdus, Sep 2, 2020.

  1. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    (share.garmin.com/LuscombeRoadTrip)

    I've picked your brains off and on regarding a couple aspects of this trip, and it's finally about here. I can hardly believe it. To say I'm feeling fear and trepidation would be about right. I have around 38 hours actual flying time as PIC in my Luscombe. There are a lot of things that could go wrong and plenty of ways to bite the big one, but I'm probably worrying more than I need to. I have about three-and-a-half weeks scheduled (pretty much all my vacation time for the year), but can work on my laptop if there are bad-weather days, and so could extend the trip by a few days.

    The broad strokes are:

    Phase I: Tacoma to Brownsville, TX
    Phase II: Brownsville to San Diego right along the entire US/Mexico border
    Phase III: San Diego to Tacoma

    The last phase is the least-well-planned segment, but I have plenty of time to work that out. Weather permitting, I'll take off from KPLU Wednesday (September 9th) bright and early; weather looks excellent for the foreseeable future. Winds at Smiley Creek commonly seem to be in the ballpark of 10G30—yikes! I think I'll feel an enormous relief after finishing up that first day, although there are other huge days, too, for a variety of reasons. Here's the plan:

    Tacoma to Brownsville (Phase I)
    • Thun Field (KPLU)
    • La Grande (LGD)
    • Smiley Creek Airport (U87)
    • Carey Airport (U65)
    • Laidlaw Corrals Airport (U99)
    • American Falls (U01)
    • Evanston-Uinta County Airport (KEVW)
    • Rifle Garfield County Airport (KRIL)
    • Canyonlands Field Airport (KCNY)
    • Mineral Canyon Strip Airport (UT75)
    • Page Municipal Airport (KPGA)
    • Marble Canyon (L41)
    • Grand Canyon National Park (KGCN)
    • Sedona Airport (KSEZ)
    • Show Low Regional Airport (KSOW)
    • Truth or Consequences Municipal Airport (KTCS)
    • Alamogordo White Sands Regional Airport (KALM)
    • Cavern City Air Terminal (KCNM)
    • Lea County/Jal (E26)
    • Pecos Municipal Airport (KPEQ)
    • San Angelo Regional Airport/Mathis Field (KSJT)
    • San Marcos Regional Airport (KHYI)
    • Alfred C ‘Bubba’ Thomas Airport (T69)
    • Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport (KBRO)

    US/Mexico Border (Phase II)
    • Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport—KBRO
    • Brownsville to Laredo (Nuevo Laredo)
    • McAllen International Airport (KMFE)
    • Rio Grande City Municipal Airport (67R)
    • Laredo International Airport—KLRD
    • Maverick County Memorial/Eagle Pass Airport (5T9)
    • Del Rio International Airport (KDRT)
    • Big Bend Ranch State Park Airport (3T9)
    • Presidio/Ojinaga (KPRS)
    • El Paso International Airport (ELP)
    • Columbus Municipal Airport (0NM0)
    • Douglas Municipal Airport (KDGL)
    • Bisbee Municipal Airport (P04)
    • Nogales Airport (KOLS)
    • Sells (E78)
    • Yuma International Airport (KNYL)
    • Calexico International Airport (KCXL)
    • Jacumba Airport (L78)
    • Brown Field Municipal Airport (KSDM)

    San Diego to Tacoma (Phase III)
    • Santa Monica Municipal (KSMO)—Amboy, CA for lunch, back to KSMO
    • Inyokern (KIYK), Mammoth/Yosemite (MMH)
    • Carson City (CXP)/Virginia City
    • Shelter Cove, CA (0Q5)
    • Southwest Oregon Regional Airport (KOTH)
    • KPLU
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2020
  2. lancie00

    lancie00 Line Up and Wait

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    Sounds like fun. GOOD LUCK!!!
     
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  3. X3 Skier

    X3 Skier En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Epic!

    Cheers
     
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  4. perwahlen

    perwahlen Filing Flight Plan

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    Looks like an awesome trip Jay! Looking forward to seeing how it is going to play out. Get some epic footage and have fun!
     
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  5. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Thanks, Per!
     
  6. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    Are you planning on landing at all these locations?

    That Leg from La grande to Smiley Creek is over some very high and rough mountains. After going over the Blues to La Grande it just gets worse.
    While Smiley Creek is a nice airport, it can be deep grass depending on when it was last mowed and at some very high density altitudes with a lot of climbing needed to get out of that Valley. You probably should get some back country training before attempting these kinds of strips. Especially in a low powered airplane like the Luscombe. https://idahoaviation.com/u/plans/23/SOPSmileyCreek.2019.pdf
    Notice 11,000 ft plus mountains nearby, Density altitude at the airport often exceeds 10,000ft!

    Looking at the NTSB reports for Idaho and you will find a very large (majority) percentage of the accidents are visiting pilots in our mountains.

    LaidLaw is a cow track in the middle of nowhere. Essentially an emergency strip and maybe used by some ranchers occasionally.

    I would recommend adjusting your route to generally follow the freeway through Baker, Boise, to American Falls. Much lower and more friendly terrain.
    Stop in Nampa and will do my best to meet up with you and buy you a meal.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL

    PS: Nampa KMAN also has Mo-Gas available if that is of interest to you.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2020
  7. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Thanks for all the good thoughts and advice, Brian. Yes. I'm planning on landing at all those airports, although I do have Laidlaw as specifically being one I might skip. Just thought it could be fun to land there, but not a main stop. I like landing at new airports. Many of those airports are just for fuel or a quick rest/break or just to take a look or a few pictures. A subset is where I'll spend the night.

    I already have a room (yurt) paid for at Smiley Creek. Coming in to Smiley Creek, it certainly may be hot (I think I might arrive around 1PM, so before the hottest part of the day), but I'll have lots of time to get to altitude after leaving La Grande. I plan on taking off early the next morning, and by the looks of it, DA might be pretty low, probably lower than field elevation, as it's getting into the 30s at night there. Worst case, I could follow the highway south and probably not have to go much above 8,000 feet DA. I've been up to 11,700 around Mt. Rainier. I LOVE the mountains!

    I asked on FATPNW about Smiley Creek and didn't get much advice. Thanks for the PDF! That's great!

    By the way, I have experience landing in tall grass. :D

    12 Easton_CleElum_Flight-1.jpg 13 Easton_CleElum_Flight-2.jpg

    Here's a video I made flying into Ranger Creek in Washington, my first ever fly-in, just after I got my Private Pilot Certificate (although I flew in there while still a student—don't tell my instructor!). You may or may not care to watch it, and I realize this doesn't mean I have much experience!!!



    To be honest, my biggest concern going into Smiley Creek is some of the winds I've been seeing (e.g., 10G30). If I can get down safely, I'm not worried at all about getting out the next morning. Please feel free to respond again if you still think I'm nuts (I probably am).

    Thanks again for your thoughtful message.

    Jay
     
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  8. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    So what day are you leaving. Going to see me daughter in San Marcos soon. Wonder when you’ll be there.

    My only concern about your trip is flying the border. A friend and hangar mate flew many years for the DEA. I’m anxious to hear his opinion about flying the border in this day and age.
     
  9. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Leaving on the 9th. Might be in San Marcos around the 15th. That's up in the air, though. I was planning on pinging Mr. Aviation 101 and seeing if he wanted to go up in the Luscombe. If he doesn't or isn't around, I figure I'll make a beeline for Brownsville and maybe shave off a day. Not sure. Anyhoo, would be happy to meet up if we're there at the same time.
     
  10. Dana

    Dana Pattern Altitude

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    Sounds like a great trip! Just two things: Don't get cocky when things have been going well, and remember you don't have to be anywhere; be prepared to spend a night or three anywhere you touch down.

    Will you be camping?
     
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  11. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I am happy for that reminder. Thank you.

    I'm planning on staying in hotels (and a yurt!). I batted the idea around of taking camping gear, but the Luscombe is teeny tiny and camping would've been only in a couple spots at most, so I decided not to take the extra stuff. Probably could've squeezed it in, but am not planning on it. Besides, hotels will work MUCH better for charging batteries, downloading video to hard drives, and WiFi for planning the next day's flight and getting weather, etc. (I will have lots of cameras, batteries, laptop, etc.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2020
  12. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Have fun, fly safe.
     
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  13. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    Yep! Time to spare, go by air!
     
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  14. samiamPA

    samiamPA Pre-Flight

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    This is awesome. You'll never forget it.

    Be safe, have fun.
     
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  15. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    Glad to hear you are planning on leaving Smiley Creek in the AM. It really is a very nice strip but remember it can be Deep Grass, Likely Wet, at 7000 feet. It will be a long take-off roll. Should be doable with the Luscombe, But you are final authority on making sure it is done safety.

    Not trying to scare you but want to make sure you have the proper respect for the Idaho Mountains, many very experienced pilots do not. I haven’t looked at your route past American falls as I am not nearly as familiar with that area.

    Be sure to give yourself large margins even just Flying over the in Idaho Mountains.

    Unfortunately I was the instructor in this event.(The day before)
    http://www.kathrynsreport.com/2017/09/glasair-glastar-n65ew-fatal-accident_5.html

    I had been checked out to start instructing in this plane a week before this event...
    https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/194422

    This one I was familiar with the airplane, was based at my airport, actually work for the same company the pilot worked for (non aviation). Despite the normal how stupid was that arm chair flying Reviews of this event, I regularly get be towed in my sailplane this time of year in the next valley over. I often observe large areas of sink up to 600ft to minute (mountain wave) in these areas. BTW Bruce meadows is also a very nice strip similarly to Smiley Creek and almost 1000 feet lower. I suspect 99 times out of 100 they would have been fine even loaded as they were, but that isn’t good enough odds, in the mountains you need large safety factors.
    https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/146586


    Just make sure you evaluate your Equipment, Skills and Environment properly to make a safe flight, Large Safey Factors are a must flying this area.. It sounds like a fun adventure. Just want to make sure it get off to a good start. Enjoyed your posts about learning to fly, Looking forward to the reports on how this flight goes for you and your lessons learned.



    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
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  16. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I truly appreciate all the tips, advice, and admonitions, Brian.

    On Sunday afternoon, I took off from a grass strip at around gross weight (my gross weight is 1,400 pounds). It was probably close to 80 degrees. We were off in about 1,000 feet I figure and climbed out well. I haven't weighed everything yet, but I'm guessing I'll be at around 1,340 with full fuel for this trip. When taking off from Smiley Creek, I should be under 1,300 pounds. I'll shoot for leaving between 7AM and 8AM. Weather permitting, I plan on taking off early in the morning for every flight on this trip.

    I've watched that video you shared several times before. Horrifying! I don't believe that I'm flirting with any limits like that based on my plans for this trip. Again, though, I do appreciate your advice to leave larger margins when in the mountains.

    Thank you for your interest in my learning-to-fly posts and in this trip!
     
  17. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    Well, we’re gonna miss you by a few days. Have a safe trip. I expect it to be the time of your aviation life.

    Not long after getting my private I went in my Cessna 140 to Tulahouma, Tennessee. Was a great adventure, but was nothing compared to your trip.
     
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  18. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    BTW will you be carrying any kind of Satellite tracking Device? Inreach, Spot, Etc. Would be fun for us to watch your progress live. Plus is a great safety device, in remote ares like between LaGrande and American Falls.

    Brian
     
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  19. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    I don’t believe you will be pushing the limits anywhere near what they did in the Video, but then I won’t be there when you actually depart (probably). My point was aimed more at your afternoon evening arrival. I fly gliders in these mountains and frequently see up and down drafts well in excess of 1000ft/ minute. So pay attention and be prepared for that possibility when crossing ridges and operating near the ground. Always leave yourself an out

    Glad you are considering all the risks.

    Brian
     
  20. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    I remember watching the Stinson video shortly after the accident. It seems apparent that they were hopelessly overloaded. They had no margin at all to work with and it’s amazing that they did not abort the takeoff LONG before the trees. You will be by yourself so I don’t think you will put yourself in that position. Leave plenty of margin.

    I assume you will be checking in here along the way with plenty of reports. If it were to turn out that I can get away the time, I might fly to San Marcos or somewhere else you intend to land just to give moral support. I have a lot going, but you never know how things might work out.
     
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  21. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I have the Garmin InReach+. I know where the SOS button is and have installed the software on my iPad and Samsung phone that makes it easier to text, but should spend a bit of time figuring out how to use it.
     
  22. idahoflier

    idahoflier Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Of course conditions can change, but if you're leaving LGD early I wouldn't be too worried about wind at S87 when you arrive. Just be mindful of the DA, your ground speed will be higher, believe your airspeed indicator. If you don't have any high DA experience, departing U87 you will use a lot more runway than you're used to and your performance will be eye opening. But S87 is a nice long runway so just take your time and if things don't look right just abort and roll out...

    The Stanley basin is beautiful, enjoy your trip!
     
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  23. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I'm hoping to leave Tacoma around 7, so I imagine I'll leave La Grande maybe by 10:30, or so.
     
  24. idahoflier

    idahoflier Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Convective activity will have started by then, just be mindful. Suggest entering the Stanley basin from the north and not just crossing the Sawtooths. One last thought, check the area webcams. It's not bad now, but smoke was brutal at times the last few weeks...

    http://sawtoothcamera.com/dailyslideshow3.html

    https://birice.vaisala.com/photos/03778B5F_06013F28_cam1.jpg?1589583511=1589583511

    https://birice.vaisala.com/photos/03778B5F_06013F28_cam3.jpg?1589583511=1589583511
     
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  25. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Yeah, I'm not at all excited about that. Thanks for the links!

    I'm thinking you mean something along these lines:

    SmileyCreekApproach.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
  26. idahoflier

    idahoflier Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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  27. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Boy, that view across the valley with the mountains is awesome! So, it seems like that town is Stanley with the Sawtooths in the background. Are you suggesting I veer to the north and fly straight down from the northern tip of highway 21 rather than directly over the northern part of the Sawtooths? While I'd love to fly over those mountains, I'm not really interested in doing it with turbulence. I really appreciate your suggestion.

    If I'm feeling up to it and conditions are good, maybe I would do an evening flight around the Sawtooths (Sawteeth?).
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
  28. Lowflynjack

    Lowflynjack En-Route

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    I'd be interested in coming out to KHYI to see you too. Just keep us all posted!
     
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  29. idahoflier

    idahoflier Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Yes, that webcam is looking south from the north of Stanley. 2U7 is out of frame, just to the left. Keep in mind I'm not a CFI or a professional backcountry pilot, just a guy who enjoys flying around that area. That said, if it was me, I would probably fly something like this...

    upload_2020-9-3_12-48-9.jpeg

    An arguably more conservative route is this...

    upload_2020-9-3_12-48-43.jpeg

    You may consider adding JSY to your trip. It's so close and the scenery is great.

    As far as flying over and around the Sawtooths, I would allocate some time to do that in the morning when you depart. I wouldn't recommend it in the late morning/afternoon...
     
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  30. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Thanks for the screenshots and your thoughts.

    7-7:30 PM would be bad? That's what I was thinking. My next day is a long one, and I don't think I'll feel inclined to make it longer, although I may already be beat and wouldn't feel like it in the evening either!
     
  31. idahoflier

    idahoflier Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    It just depends. How does your Luscombe perform at 9,500 DA (13,500 DA around the sawtooths)? Have you had any instruction in mountain flying so you know what to avoid and how to escape? As @brcase mentioned people see downdrafts in excess of 1000'/min. I haven't seen that probably because I'm not flying where and when that occurs. I have experienced those downdrafts when backpacking though and have thought I sure wouldn't want to be flying in that. Personally, all my scenic Sawtooth flights are confined to mornings.
     
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  32. Omalley1537

    Omalley1537 Line Up and Wait

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    Outstanding!

    When I bought my 182, I flew it back from Indiana to Washington along with my CFI (who I had become good friends with) picking up my high performance along the way. As a newly minted PPL with the ink still wet, it was a great chance to get a lot of XC under my belt. We stopped mostly at smaller airports, except for Sioux Falls.
    It was a trip I’ll never forget. Lots of places I’d never make it to normally and we met some super-nice folks. Many were very excited about our trip.

    I sent each FBO a pic of the airplane and me along with a thank-you note for their hospitality after I got home.
     
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  33. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    Just remember those Rocks are usually absorbing up to 500 watts per Square Meter all day long. and there are a lot more square meters than a flat surface. I flown my Sailplane up until Sunset over those rocks stilling seeing 400ft/min updrafts. I avoided the downdrafts but can expect they will be about equal.

    When I fly in August the prime time for The Convection to start is about 12-2pm and usually starts winding down about 7pm. May start winding down earlier in September.
    Check with me a day or two before you leave and I will check the convection forecasts for you. I have access to some very good tools for this.

    Below are the forecasts for tomorrow at 1 and 6pm. Looks like the thermals will be start dying off between about 5 and 6 pm.
    LR3C2 is a turnpoint I use for one of my racing courses for the sailplane, it is very near the Smiley Creek Airport.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL

    upload_2020-9-3_16-24-4.png

    upload_2020-9-3_16-26-20.png

    upload_2020-9-3_16-27-32.png
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
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  34. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Excellent! Thank you!
     
  35. Jill

    Jill Filing Flight Plan

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    Count me in for seeing you if you stop in San Marcos! :=)
     
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  36. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    If you meet me in San Marcos, Jill, then I will definitely go there, Josh Flowers or no!!!
     
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  37. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I've never really used my Garmin inReach (Explorer+), so I'm not sure how this will work out, but apparently you can follow me here:

    share.garmin.com/LuscombeRoadTrip

    Tracking the ADSB might do the trick, too. My tail number is N1813K.
     
  38. CharlieD3

    CharlieD3 Line Up and Wait

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    Good luck, best wishes, clear skies. You are the PIC. listen to your PIC voice.
    You can do this safely and have a blast doing it.

    You're not breaking any rules, you're stretching your wings. Take every opportunity to continue learning... yourself, your aircraft, and the limitations of both.

    Be safe, and ENJOY the ADVENTURE!
     
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  39. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Thank you for the very kind and encouraging comment!
     
  40. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Adding Grand Junction Regional Airport (KGJT). I have a cousin I've never met who lives there. Was gonna fly right over her house and didn't even know it!
     
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