What started with hangar talk and a flight plan drawn on a napkin ended with half a dozen flying club members in three club aircraft traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast and back again on a four-week cross-country adventure.
Members of the Congressional Flying Club, based at Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Md., were chatting over coffee when a student pilot in the group suggested that it would be interesting to fly a real coast-to-coast cross country. In May, a group including a flight instructor, two A&P mechanics, two student pilots, and a nonpilot turned that idle speculation into reality. The group was joined by various other aircraft and pilots who flew along for portions of the trip.
Flying only in VFR conditions to accommodate the varied experience levels of the pilots involved, the group took in the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, San Francisco Bay, the Badlands of South Dakota, and Seattle, among other sites. And they met some great pilots at airports around the country.
“The people were the best part,” said Richard Strock, a private pilot and club member who made the trip. “Everybody was just so gracious. The whole flying community comes together when they see something like this.”
When mechanical problems grounded the group at a small Tennessee airport, local pilots and A&Ps offered the travelers tools, expertise, and parts to get them back in the air. And Strock commended the flight service specialists and air traffic controllers his group encountered along the way. “Everyone was just incredibly helpful,” he said.
Despite weather delays, mechanical glitches, a couple of emergency chiropractor visits, and the challenges of spending so long in such close quarters, the participants remain friends and say they are anxious to launch on the next adventure.
“We really had a good time, and we’re talking about what we are going to do for an encore,” Strock said. One possibility is a Blues tour, taking in great music destinations like New Orleans and Memphis.
You can learn more about their adventure by visiting the group’s trip blog.