Monday, July 20, 2009

Aspen - San Diego / Beechcraft Baron 58 (N2751W) / VFR

This was one of the longest flights I've undertaken in a long time; I'm not sure if it actually set a record.

I flew (with my virtual friends and passengers again) from Aspen all the way to San Diego, a trip of about four hours. The first part out of Aspen was at 14500, and as I cleared the mountains we descended, although I stayed at 12500 for most of the trip, until some clouds threatened around Twentynine Palms and I descended to get clear of them.

This being a very long flight, I just put everything into the GPS and let the autopilot fly most of the way. It was mainly VOR to VOR, but there was a long stretch to Tuba City during which I just let the GPS do its thing, without double-checking the VORs. The excellent VMC meant that there was little risk of a problem, and there are tiny airports all along the way, even through most of the desert—and we were high enough to glide to one of them if a problem arose.

There were no problems, in any case, and the weather cleared as we got past Thermal, at which point I began my descent. I went direct from Julian to VYDDA and made a very smooth, straight-in approach with an extremely gentle landing on runway 27 at KSAN. I parked at Jimsair and we all got out and raced for the restrooms. It was still vastly shorter than it would have been in a car, which would have taken around 17 hours of driving (not including breaks), and at least 50% greater distance.

I still had 1/3 of my fuel left at KSAN, and I had only filled the main tanks (not the tip tanks). That's about six miles per gallon, which doesn't sound very economical until you consider that we were also getting to our destination at least four times faster than we would have in a car. Total trip length on the flight plan was 666.6 nautical miles (oo-wee-oo!).