What a Cross Country

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Chrisgoesflying, Nov 20, 2022.

  1. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I just completed my longest cross country flight yet and when I say long, I mean loooooong. Our journey began in Saskatchewan (Canada) at -22 degrees celsius and a few hours ago, we landed in Panama City, FL in balmy 12 degrees celsius. Total flight time was just over 20 hours in our mighty little Cherokee, stuffed with two people, a dog, a cat and bags.

    Day 1 (CJS4 -> KGTF): The plan was to fly to Williston, ND to clear customs but unfortunately all of ND and east of ND was under terrible, low clouds. The only other airport within reach with customs was Great Falls, MT so day 1 started with a bit of a detour.

    Day 2 (CJS4 -> KBHK -> KRAP): This was a really nice flight. Still all white below and bitter cold but the flight itself was super nice and relaxing.

    Day 3 (KRAP -> KTQE -> 3LF): The first leg of this flight was nice and relaxing. The second part was pretty nice too but was mostly at night which, to me, is less relaxing as I'm just a tad more worried about landing spots if needed or losing sight of horizon in really dark areas.

    Here, we took a few days break. The dog was pretty fed up with flying at this point lol.

    Day 4 (3LF -> KMSL -> KECP): The first leg was nice. Beautiful blue sky, calm air (at altitude - we took off in 15 G25 winds) just the perfect day VFR flight. The second and final leg was different. Pretty cloudy and rainy and the last 30 minutes it was pitch black outside until we could finally see the lights of Panama City in the distance.

    Total flight time as mentioned was just around 20 hours of which about 3 were at night. My wife took photos along the way which I'll post once I get them. No flying for me for a few weeks now lol.
     
  2. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    I did Florida to California in a 182 in 21 hours of flying over 2.5 days straight but I was new to it all so it was all was still exciting...now I would probably be like "Why the hell didn't I take Southwest?
     
  3. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Still all exciting to me. I’m still a rather fresh pilot with 266 hours PIC since I got my license about three years ago. The Cherokee, is also still pretty new to me as I only bought it a year ago and consider it my first cross country capable plane (I wouldn’t have done this trip in my Ercoupe or Cessna 150). I don’t think I’d ever question why I didn’t go with Southwest as there is no way I would put the dog in cargo but after a few of those really long flights, my desire to get something bigger and faster will probably grow lol.
     
  4. donjohnston

    donjohnston Pattern Altitude

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    Sorry about the timing. The weather here has been awful the last couple of days. 50's and rain all day yesterday and 50's and cloudy today.

    Supposed to be better starting tomorrow.
     
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  5. Terry M - 3CK (Chicago)

    Terry M - 3CK (Chicago) Line Up and Wait

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    That is awesome! A few days in Litchfield IL? What did y'all do there? It is bigger than I thought looking at the map now.

    Are you instrument rated and current? How did customs go? Do you have to clear Canadian customs on the way home (nothing with US when you're leaving, right?).

    Congrats! That sounds like an epic accomplishment.
     
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  6. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That’s one for the ol’ scrapbook. What’s the saying? If ya ain’t makin’ memories, yer missin’ the point. Did you go to Great Falls, back to Moose Jaw and then start again?
     
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  7. RudyP

    RudyP Cleared for Takeoff

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    I go back and forth from CA to FL at least once a year (as well as CA to MO and other long haul flights). I could do it solo in a single day in the Cirrus (cruise speed ~200 KTAS) but not with wife and kids… they don’t have the patience. Now I do these trips in the babyjet and while I wish it had longer range (I often have to stop twice westbound from FL to CA) the whole family is totally fine with doing all these trips in a single day.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2022
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  8. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    50s feels like summer to us right now lol. In Canada it was -22 when we left lol.
     
  9. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yup, stayed in Litchfield for a few days. There isn’t really much to do. We went there because we know some people in STL and the airport was convenient. Little did I know, they closed the only rental car agency in town so we didn’t even end up going to STL. But met really nice people at the airport and in town so it was still pretty nice :)

    I am not instrument rated. Just a plain ol’ PPL so the entire trip was VFR. A few hours at night and a few hours above the ceiling which was pretty cool. Only once at night I had trouble making out a horizon but training luckily kicked in and I could keep the plane level with instruments until I made out some surface lights again.

    Customs went well. It’s usually a breeze. We will have to go through customs in Canada upon our return but that’s usually no issue either. We’ll be here in Florida for a while though. Too cold in the winter in Canada lol.
     
  10. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Oh memories were made for sure! No, we went from GTF to KRAP.
     
  11. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I can see how the comfort level is better doing these long hauls in a jet. I’m not planning on ever owning a jet but one day I want to upgrade to a Cherokee 6 and then eventually to a Malibu. I think once at Malibu level, it’ll be rather comfortable for all on board. Bank account doesn’t quite yet allow for that upgrade though lol.
     
  12. Domenick

    Domenick Cleared for Takeoff

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    Great trip! Long cross-countries are concentrated and at times boring learning opportunities, though I suppose with a wife, dog, and cat it is less boring. When are you going back?
     
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  13. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Nice trip! As you are finding, even the Cherokee can go a long, long distance if you do your flight planning homework and can commit to being flexible along the way.

    Be sure to post more about the trip, including your return flight. But don’t get so wrapped up in planning that you miss out on enjoying the vacation part of the trip.

    I’m not far from Williston so if you get stuck in that area on the way home don’t be afraid to reach out. It’s nice out today but you made the right call going around that cold, cloudy mess we had for most of the last two weeks.
     
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  14. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route

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    Did you get a "I flew through KRAP" t-shirt? Let us know when you're headed back and maybe some of us can meet up for lunch. MDH and UIN should both be pretty close to your path, or Lambert's down at SIK.

    If you find yourself in Litchfield again, I recommend the Ariston Cafe. It's been there since the 30's on Rt. 66. That's about the only thing of interest there. Nice airport with cheap gas though.
     
  15. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    My wife wants a pressurized plane. That’s an upgrade I might eventually make but not soon.

    We did find that she felt better with oxygen at 14000 than without it at 10000. I might start offering it to her more often. I have the small system Sporty’s sells and it’s perfect since I rarely need to go above 12000. I’ve used it three times so far. 13500 to top clouds en route, 14000 assigned by ATC between KRKS and KVGT, and 13000 assigned by ATC to go over some MOA in Kansas.

    I prefer to stay below 10000 with my dog so I don’t know if it would help you as much. But I think even in a Cherokee you can increase passenger satisfaction with a small oxygen system.
     
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  16. mandm

    mandm Line Up and Wait

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    Nice trip! If you need any mx, get it done in Florida, it was pretty cheap to get work done and the plane clean in Florida, service is friendly and your business is welcomed!

    I prefer to fly myself when practical, the FBO experience with dogs is unmatched to a busy airport with rude service.
     
  17. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Back home not until the Spring. We’ll be in Florida until March and then head up to Toronto for a little while before flying back to the Prairies. Certainly not too boring although the dog usually just sits there looking out of the window and the cat sleeps so they don’t contribute much to the in flight entertainment.
     
  18. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thank you. Williston is definitely my preferred airport to clear customs but the weather was just too bad. I’ll definitely let you know when I’m around the area next time.
     
  19. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    For sure. Heading back will be different routing. We’ll head straight north for Ontario but even that won’t be until March.

    No KRAP shirt this time. I’ve been through KRAP last spring already and actually stayed for a few days for all the tourist stuff in town lol.
     
  20. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Unpressurized I definitely wouldn’t go above 10k with the pets on board and they’re aka ways with us so no point in getting oxygen while we still fly in an unpressurized cabin.
     
  21. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That’s good to know. Do you have a personal recommendation at ECP? Not that I need anything in particular per se but with these old planes, there is always something that can be looked at.

    And yeah, FBOs are amazing with dogs. Beats terminals and also beats highway gas stations. So far, I only encountered one FBO that wasn’t dog friendly.
     
  22. MajorTurbulence

    MajorTurbulence Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Using my Archer, I was near your route starting at Lloydminster going through Saskatchewan. My plan was to go through customs at Minot SD, however I had to pass through a front to skirt Moose Jaw airspace. Williston was my alternate. Getting your IFR rating will obviously increase your flexibility with the right weather avoidance equipment.
     
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  23. MajorTurbulence

    MajorTurbulence Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Funny, I never found those long cross countries boring with all the weather changes that you pass through and the cross checking fuel optimization/ alternate considerations, and the interesting topography. Certainly, IFR creates the need for more analysis before and enroute. But I do agree, always a fantastic learning experience, and the memories!
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2022
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  24. Rcmutz

    Rcmutz Line Up and Wait

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    If you are coming through Ohio on your way to Toronto, I’d recommend a stop in Dayton and a visit to the USAF National Museum.
     
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  25. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Nice cross country ,you might want to go further south in Florida for some warm weather.
     
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  26. donjohnston

    donjohnston Pattern Altitude

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    Mike Hall at Sunset Eagle. I've used them for years.
     
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  27. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser!

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