True cross-country flight plans

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Arrow72, Apr 27, 2021.

  1. Arrow72

    Arrow72 Filing Flight Plan

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    Howdy folks - my first post after lurking for a while, reading threads on different airports.

    Owner of a 72 arrow with PPL + IR, planning a month+ truly transcontinental trip around the US starting in the PNW.

    The planning is monstrous, between flight path and finding the right airport for tie-downs and gas, well as the attractions in the places I'm headed.

    It's taken me - quite literally - 8 hours to plan 10 days from Seattle to Detroit - KCOE, KMSO, KWYS, KRAP, KSTP, KMWC, KOSH, KMCD, KDET.

    Are there any repositories (or even stories) of XC of this length? Next up will be going down the east coast and back across to the west.

    Alternatively, anyone undertaken 2000 nm+ trips (over multiple weeks) with general advice for me?
     
  2. RingLaserGyroSandwich

    RingLaserGyroSandwich Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Can't say that I have but I'll reiterate some pointers I heard during a presentation by a fellow EAA member who has done these types of trips before. Your mileage may vary.

    1. Don't plan to fly a full 8 hours your first day if you aren't already used to it. This is something you probably need to build up to.
    2. You most likely will want to carry a bit more emergency gear and supplies than when you fly normally, including a few simple replacement parts.
    3. The locals may have alternate suggestions for how (route) to get from your current location to your next destination.
    4. Don't forget about a mountain range along your route and get surprised when you see towering mountains in front of you (apparently, that actually happened to him...).
    5. Having ADS-B with traffic alerts set up while you are cruising for multiple hours right along the US border can save your life. The pilot I was listening to said another airplane was coming at him, opposite direction, same altitude, and he only noticed when his iPad yelled at him.
    I know plenty of people here have actually done a trip like this so I'm sure they'll have more tailored advice for you. Good luck!
     
  3. Jim Carpenter

    Jim Carpenter Pre-takeoff checklist

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    6. Don't plan on any 'real' IFR (actual IMC weather) flying anywhere west of a Billings-Cheyenne-Pueblo line.
    You may be able to search past posts concerning specific legs of your journey, there have been many route-planning/FBO advice threads.
    Have fun! Sounds like an epic trip. (Pireps are appreciated!)
     
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  4. Blatham489

    Blatham489 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    7. Don't over-plan, it's an adventure!
     
  5. donjohnston

    donjohnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    Excellent advice!
     
  6. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    I would scope out possible routes, but not go overboard on advance planning. Winds and weather will change, which will require last minute adjustments. 20 knots of headwind or tailwind makes a huge difference in leg planning.

    Be prepared for and expect diversions, unscheduled stops for weather, and the odd minor mechanical issue. I've made a few long flights up and down the East Coast (Central New York to South Florida with various stops in the Southeast), and while many go without drama, we have been stymied by thick afternoon CBs and various minor issues like mag failures (bad coil), leaking brake lines, loosened exhaust manifold, etc. All were easy, quick, and cheap fixes, but did delay us. It's a chance to explore a new place. As they say, "time to spare, go by air."

    But all in, all, long trips in a flib are amazing in terms of how far you can go in a day. I usually plan 3 hour legs, which leaves me about 90 minutes reserve. Three legs in a day is a lot (exhausting), and I wouldn't do that two days in a row. Two legs gets you pretty far, to a destination you can explore for a day.

    Although it is more expensive, I usually schedule stops at towered airports, especially in MVFR or IFR weather. Larger airports are more likely to have rental cars and quick maintenance if stranded, and it's simpler to pick up your IFR clearance for departure. But that's just me. (There is also often more to do in a city served by a towered airport if you are stuck for a day or two.)

    Mainly, this will be a flying adventure with additional benefits, enjoy!
     
  7. wayneda40

    wayneda40 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Here's a video playlist (9 episodes) of a tour 2 best buds and I made in a DA40 in Jan2020 from California to/from the Caribbean, >7000 nm over 18 days.

     
  8. SethV

    SethV Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Good reason for KDET? Not a great part of town, its expensive and not real nice. PTK, VLL are other good options.
     
  9. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Be flexible, even up to the last moment before a leg. I recently flew back from sun and fun, I left on Sunday, the last day of the show, and the weather was a challenge as there was a line of very unstable air across the state, directly in my flight path, no way around it. So that morning, I told my wife that we were probably going to have to scrub. We had breakfast, I checked again and the weather had opened up enough for me to give it a try, so we went.

    I stopped at my daughter's house in NC for a visit, that night, Sunday night I planned my route from KINT to KESN, and it looked good, TAFs were all good and conditions good. Get up the next morning and there was convective activity about 100 miles from Easton. Still looked doable, some IMC on the way, but generally ok, so I filed an Instrument plan. Get to the airport, say our goodbyes, settle up with the FBO, preflight, get strapped in, then do my usual last glance at the weather, and to my surprise this front, or whatever it was had grown, the convective weather near Easton had grown, and was much closer than I was comfortable with. Meanwhile, west of the DC sfra, the weather looked much better, with just a short crossing of the mess I was about to fly into, this crossing through a benign area. So I refiled, to Haggerstown, MD, started up, and picked up the clearance a few minutes later. The flight was great.

    But I think it's a good example, make your plans, but be flexible.
     
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  10. WillFly4Food

    WillFly4Food Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Be ready and willing to accept changes. A long flight like this will be great fun, but can tend to result in get-there-itis, setting in. Accept the fact that circumstances may arise where the best choice is to find a place to land, soon, and existing destination hotel, car, event reservations be dammed. As was mentioned above, if time to spare, go by air.

    Sounds like a fantastic trip. Keep us posted/share the fun.
     
  11. NealRomeoGolf

    NealRomeoGolf En-Route

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    I did Central IL to Boise last fall. Does that count? Weather was mostly a non factor except for the haze from the fires last year. Most of my route planning was how best to get around high terrain.
     
  12. sarangan

    sarangan Cleared for Takeoff

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    For the western portion, plan your route over well known mountain passes. Following an interstate or populated areas is a good idea. For the eastern portion, keep overwater flights minimal. Lake Michican is cold even in the summer. It sounds like this should be a fun trip!
     
  13. Domenick

    Domenick Line Up and Wait

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    I've done a few long XCs, and I wrote up a couple including planning and trip logs.

    6600 nm PNW->S.CA->Knoxville->S.FL->Along the gulf and back home through S.CA.
    http://www.demonick.com/flying/S43-DKX-SUA-S43/index.html

    New Orleans to Seattle:
    http://www.demonick.com/flying/flying.logs.NEW-S43.html

    Others have given good advice. I'll just add, a couple points.
    Bring extra long tie-down ropes in case you are force to tie-down in a turbine spot.
    Do not use the tie-down chains often provided. In strong winds, the "no-give" of a chain can damage the plane. And finally ...

    I guarantee your trip WILL NOT go as planned.
     
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  14. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    As part of my IFR training, I flew MYF-MDW and back in an Arrow with my CFII. It was an awesome learning experience. Always be ready to change plans. Definitely have a way to get weather on board.
     
  15. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Some folks find the planning to be part of the fun. Others find the planning to be a PITA. Most find the whole thing an adventure and learning experience.

    The more you do it, the shorter the planning process will be. Think of it this way: you've done the planning now so far less work along the way - and the more fun you can have.
     
  16. Domenick

    Domenick Line Up and Wait

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    I'm one who finds the planning fun, and have planned a number of flights I have yet to make. The good news is when I'm ready, I'll have to do it all over again!
     
  17. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    Read “Flight of Passage” by Rinker Buck. If a couple teenagers can fly from NJ to CA in a NORDO Cub, you can do it in your Arrow. Be flexible on everything and you’ll be fine.
     
  18. wayne

    wayne Pattern Altitude

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    As others have said, don’t plan too far out, at least not into detail. The winds can alter how far you can go in one leg, plus the overall weather can change. An IR won’t get you through a frontal line of thunderstorms.

    Small rural airports can have cheap gas, but often they don’t have a maintenance shop. If a tire is getting worn, better to replace it at home before going, than trying to deal with it along the way. Depending upon how long your trip, the same for an oil change, but that could also be scheduled along the way.

    I did a long cross country last year. Flew from Atlanta to Vale, OR, then to Rapid City for a few days on the way back home to Atlanta. For my trip that was all inside of a week. Doing a mont+ trip like you are planning would be a lot of fun.
     
  19. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Reiterating: Stay out of Detroit.
     
  20. kath

    kath Administrator Management Council Member

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    ^^^This. And this again.

    @Arrow72,
    Wherever you go, ask the airport locals. Local advice is more valuable than anything you can look up on Foreflight or Airnav or any other corner of the internet. "Where's a good airport to stop at for the night, east of here?" "What's cool to do around here?" "Who's got a good restaurant on the field?" etc etc. If you can't think of a particular question, make up one anyway. When a local gives you advice, take it, if you're able.

    Remember that the "best place to stop for the night" and the "best place for gas" are not necessarily the same thing. Some of the best overnight stops will be the little strip with no fuel and friendly people. See above to find out where they are. No need to try to optimize "number of stops" on a trip like this... the point is to see and do, so stop lots of places.

    Bring your own tiedown ropes. Bring a folding bike or a folding scooter, if you have room for one.

    I've done two long trips like the ones your thinking about: one was two months and 10,000 miles, and the other was one year and 15,000 miles. Each trip involved certain "anchor destinations" -- places where there was a particular person I wanted to visit or thing I wanted to do -- but I was essentially making it up as I went along for the miles in between. There were plenty of days where I woke up in one place, not knowing where I'd be the next night. Now then, I carried camping gear, so this was an option for overnights (not sure if camping is your "thing" or not -- things may take a little more planning if not.)
    http://beetlejuiceadventure.wordpress.com

    When you've got multiple weeks, you'll be able to wait for the right weather. Don't think of this as a hassle or an inconvenience; think of it as a great luxury.

    Have fun!
     
  21. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Pattern Altitude

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    I have flown from Reno, NV to Cienfuegos, Cuba... outbound via AZ, NM, TX, LA, FL and return via FL, GA, NC, WV, PA, OH, MI, WI, MN, ND, NE, CO, UT.

    Another trip was Reno to Guatemala via FL and back.

    Every year we do Reno to Michigan and/or Reno to Texas. PTK (Barnstomers) and FTW (Texas Jet) are great places.

    I would carry a bit more safety gear as well as a few quarts of oil, a Curtis valve (fuel sump) if your plane takes them and plan on having to do some minor maintenance. For this reason choose airports with some services over middle-of-nowhere places. We had our master switch plastic break in Corinth, MS on a Saturday morning and fortunately it was still workable enough to get to a place with good maintenance to have it fixed the following Monday.

    Also plan for an oil change and bring along either a Blackstone or AvLab sample kit to get the oil sampled in case the shop doesn't have the kit you normally use.

    Sandpoint, ID to Missoula, MT is a generally good route along I-90 or the adjacent state highway (ID-200).

    Get a hangar once you get into T-Storm and hail country.

    Don't cross the middle of Lake Michigan. Seriously. Don't do that.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2021
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  22. Katamarino

    Katamarino Pattern Altitude

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    I've done a few trips of this nature. If you think planning a trip around the US is bad, try planning a flight through Africa or around the world :p

    I've written my trips up at www.katamarino.com
     
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  23. IK04

    IK04 Pattern Altitude

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    Don't be afraid to bail or quit completely at any point. Sometimes things just don't work out. I'm not trying to poison your enthusiasm about the trip, but allow plenty of time for unforeseen delays and mishaps.

    My last cross-continent trip was planned for three days and took seven to complete. three of those days had less than half the planned progress toward the destination. I made it home on the last possible day, but aborted and rerouted almost every single leg.

    So planning is always good until you move into the execution phase, then it all goes to hell. No biggie. It's an adventure!
     
  24. NealRomeoGolf

    NealRomeoGolf En-Route

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    I guess my big trip last year is abnormal. Didn't have to change a thing. Lucky I guess.
     
  25. Stan Cooper

    Stan Cooper Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Lots of great advice here. I've done three round trips from the San Francisco Bay Area to Northeast Florida, once in a C150 and twice in a C172. The first two were hand flying the whole way, but by the third time I'd wised up and installed an S-TEC 30 autopilot with altitude hold.

    I'll repeat what others have said; don't over-plan. I usually have a general route in mind and plan a day at a time in the hotel room for the next day taking weather forecasts, TFRs, etc., into account. It also gives me the flexibility to make side trips en route if some place interesting shows up along the way, like aviation museums, famous landmarks, and aviation events. Even with an instrument rating and currency, don't hesitate to spend an extra day somewhere to avoid nasty weather.

    It's an adventure; take your time and enjoy it. Avoid get-there-itis like the plague.
     
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  26. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach Gone West

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    Nope. You fly a Piper. You are blessed. :)
    I fly a Piper, @hindsight2020 flies a Piper, the OP flies a Piper. It always works out, even with a headwind. Which is rare when you fly a Piper. :cool:
    Now, for those high wing types...not so much. :eek:
     
  27. Stan Cooper

    Stan Cooper Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    I fly a low wing now. Does that count? :)
     
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  28. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach Gone West

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    Certainly! It's got a "fat" wing, bolted in the right place.
    But if any of us get in the papers they'll say we were flying a Cessna regardless.
     
  29. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    I love my low-wing Cessna.
     
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  30. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    My Grumman is faster than your Piper, even with a headwind :p
     
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  31. NealRomeoGolf

    NealRomeoGolf En-Route

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    Are you sure about that??
     
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  32. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    I meant Cherokees. That Twinkie definitely will run.
     
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  33. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    The MYLS-TJBQ leg and back was the one segment I was legitimately concerned about, as it was the only leg where with any significant headwind I would have not been able to run at my usual 65% power setting and retain (legal) reserves. I kid you not, tailwinds both ways. Thence, your hypothesis must be true :D
     
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  34. NealRomeoGolf

    NealRomeoGolf En-Route

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    Experimentals could only dream of having it so good. ;)
     
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  35. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    As most have already said what you have now is merely a rough draft. You have time compressed the whole thing in your mind. In actuality it will be a much more dynamic experience, you'll have time to make decisions and changes "on the fly" Even conversations you may have with complete strangers at stops along the way may cause you to take a completely different route. Then there's the weather, sometimes it cooperates, sometimes it doesn't. Prepare to be flexible and have fun. That's the whole point.
     
  36. Erik1010

    Erik1010 Pre-Flight

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    I'd avoid KDET. KYIP, KVLL, 43G, 1D2 are all better options.