Anyone Remember The Cannonball Run?

John HurlbutFlying, Private pilot0 Comments

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imageI wonder if anyone other than Scott remembers the movie “The Cannonball Run”?  Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, lots of famous folks set off on a race across country and as was bound to happen, hilarity ensues. I’m considering a Cannonball Run of my own this summer. It won’t be a race against anyone per se, it’ll be more a race against myself and proof that having my pilot’s license is valuable beyond simply going for sight seeing adventures around Mount Rainier. Read on oh faithful follower…

So I’m now checked out to fly 5 different Cessna 172’s at two different flight schools.  That’s great, for the most part right now, whenever I want to fly, there is a plane available. It ALMOST feels like I’m an owner. However, there are a few things I could do as an owner that I can’t do as a renter.  Land on a beach.  Land on a grass strip. Those would really be fun, but what I REALLY want to do is take a plane on an adventure overnight. Maybe even go plane camping. That sounds like a blast!  Load up some camping gear, Teri, fly into some backwoods strip and camp for a night or two and fly home a couple days later. Or maybe a TRUE cross country flight? Seattle to Boston? The one thing I really CAN’T do as a renter is have a plane overnight. Or can I?

There aren’t many days that go by that I don’t think about buying an airplane. Seriously, I peruse Trade-a-Plane at least once a day. Because I’m a bigger guy, I think the kind of plane I want most is a Cessna 182.  It has more room, more carrying capacity, more range and is faster than the 172’s that I fly now.  In comparison the 172 will cruise about 110kts and the 182 about 140. Full out the 172 maybe 120 and the 182 about 155.  I’ve never actually flown a 182, but I’m pretty set on one.  In fact last year I almost bought one.  It didn’t have complete logs so that scared me a bit.  Having an engine with 200 or more Horesepower, requires that I have a “High Performance” endorsement on my license.  The 182 typically comes equipped with a six cylinder 230 HP engine, as well as a constant speed propeller.  In comparison, the 172 has between a 150-180 HP 4 cylinder engine and a fixed pitch propeller.

SpanaFlight, one of the two schools I’m checked out at, has a 182.  I’m not allowed to fly it…yet.  I’m going to work on getting checked out in it over the next few weeks.  As I mentioned as a renter I can’t take planes overnight even though both schools have overnight policies.  However, Doug, the owner of Spanaflight has said if I get checked out in the 182, he may let me take it overnight or for a weekend since it’s rarely flown anyway.  Sweet!  I want to get my high performance endorsement anyway, so seems like a fine plan to do it in the 182!

Teri and I have a day trip to Couer D’ Alene, Idaho we want to take in August.  Driving to Idaho and back in a day, even two days, doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me.  From our house to our destination is about a 5 hour 30 minute drive. Ick. According to Foreflight, in the 182, it’s about an hour and 40 minutes.  SWEET!  We can get there, spend a couple three hours and get back in about the time it would take us to drive there.  Plus flying to Idaho is on my list of Aviation goals for the year. So I’d be able to check that off the list.  California is on that list of goals as well.  Enter John’s version of the Cannonball Run…

My parents live in a little community in California called Silver Lakes, in a little town called Helendale.  It really isn’t much more than a mirage on Route 66 between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.  For me to visit them, I fly into Ontario airport (KONT), rent a car and drive a little over an hour to their house in The desert.  I have a theory that with the 182, I could get to my parents house as fast as I could on a commercial airliner.  Even if I can’t, it’s going to be a helluva lot more fun.  Hear me out…

A typical flight from KSEA to KONT departs at 7:40 AM and arrives at 10:14AM, a 2 hour, 34 minute flight.  Now I know a Cessna 182 isn’t going to fly to Southern California in 2.5 hours.  But that 2.5 hour flight isn’t simply a 2.5 hour flight is it?  If we play by the rules, and arrive at the airport 2 hours before our flight, that means we’re there at 5:40 AM.  If I had perfect traffic, that means I left my house no later than 5AM.  So just getting to KONT, I’m 5.25 hours into my journey.  But it’ll take 15 minutes to get off the plane and probably another 30 to rent the car and get out of the airport.  (This is what makes KONT so great! Small airport, super quick to get in and out!). So let’s call it 11 I’m on the road to Mom & Dad’s.  Again, I hit perfect traffic and I’m pulling into their driveway at noon.  We’ll call it 7 hours, door to door.  Not too shabby.

Cannonball Run Style – John leaves the house at 5AM, arrives at KPLU at 5:10.  Unlocks and loads the airplane, 30 minutes for pre-flight and run up, and we’re wheels up at approximately 5:45AM.  Foreflight calculates the flight at just 6 hours from KPLU to KVCV in the 182 @ 140kts.  With proper mixture leaning, etc. it’s theoretically possible to do that without stopping, but no way you’re ever getting me to do that! So plan on a stop for fuel, bathroom, etc about 1/2 way and we probably add 30-45 minutes to that.  So we’ll say 6 hours 45 minutes travel time. (Yes I know I’m already there if I’m flying commercial).  I land at KVCV (Southern California Logistics) at approximately 12:30PM, secure the airplane by 12:45, hop in the parents car and we’re relaxing by the lake by 1:05PM.

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OK so it takes an hour or so more.  But who cares?!  There was no sitting in traffic to get to the airport. There was no security line. There was no traffic trying to get from KONT to Silver Lakes.  And really, if traffic is bad on the way to KSEA or from KONT, there’s a good possibility this is a wash!  Plus I got to FLY Myself and see lots of pretty scenery along the way. What’s better than that?  Not much I contend.  And what an adventure!

If I can get checked out in the 182 by July 26th, there’s an overnight I want to do to Portland.  August 6th would be the trip to Idaho and I’d like to do the trip to California by end of August.  Time to start working in this!!

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