March 25, 2013
By Ian J. Twombly
Fall for most of us at AOPA means Expo and with the event in San Jose, Calif., this year, that means a cross-country adventure for the 2008 Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Piper Archer.
The show starts Thursday, November 6, and runs through Saturday, November 8. Since the aircraft display prominently features the sweepstakes Archer and that set-up starts on Wednesday, we have to arrive a day early. Add on an interview for an upcoming story in AOPA Pilot the day before, and the deadline for arriving in San Jose moved to Monday.
Figuring out when to leave for such an adventure is the first step. The Archer comfortably does 3.5-hour legs, which means three legs a day at the most. That equates to 10.5 hours of flying per day. According to AOPA’s Real Time Flight Planner, the trip will take about 21 hours with no wind. Thus, two full days of flying. But given that the prevailing winds are easterly, the plan is to leave early Saturday morning to get as far as possible, then shorter days on Sunday and Monday.
Most who fly east of the Mississippi at first may be surprised to find you can’t really get there from here (here being Frederick, MD). A primarily direct routing would put one right in the heart of some of the highest minimum en route altitudes in the country. Instead, one has to drop south and go through either Albuquerque and then Palm Springs, Calif., and the Banning Pass, or even farther south through El Paso, Tex., and along the southern border. We’ll be going through Phoenix, so in all likelihood we won’t be taking the more southerly route. But the one key to any trip like this is flexibility—lack of constraints from both schedule and route makes a journey like this much safer.
With technology advancements, you can follow our trip in a number of different ways. I’ll be blogging on AOPA’s Reporting Points throughout the trip, complete with pictures of the beautiful sights along the way. To keep up with the very latest, check out my Twitter page. I’ll be posting updates on fuel stops and planned destinations during the three-day trip. Getting an update and then coming out the airport for a look is a great way to get an up-close look at your sweepstakes airplane.
Next week: The view from the static display
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