Dave Hirschman

Long Way to Long Beach

November 3, 2010 by Dave Hirschman, Senior Editor

My innate skepticism is usually well founded when it comes to aviation matters.
When things are going too right, on a long cross-country trip, for example, it’s time to be suspicious. Some complication is lurking, and everything that goes right is just a set-up for the eventual challenge to come.

But Day One of the “Long Way to Long Beach” Waco flight from Maryland to AOPA Aviation Summit in California was notable because it went so smoothly.

Chris Rose and I departed on time into a pink dawn and sailed over the Appalachian Mountains VFR at 4,500 feet. The autumn leaves, a few weeks past their peak, were still gorgeous, an fog filled the craggy and jagged river valleys. We were both dressed for cold weather — but with an OAT of 25 degrees F, it wasn’t enough. despite thick socks and double gloves, my feet got numb and I held my hand in fists to keep them warm.
Also, the microphone muff on my headset blew away from the constant wind. The problem was quickly solved during our first fuel stop at Clermont County Airport, home of Sporty’s Pilot Shop, where I bought a couple of replacements, warmed up with a cup of coffee, and pressed on with a full tank of fuel.

Our next leg took us within view of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and then to a fuel stop at Jefferson City, Mo. Surprisingly, we enjoyed a rare tailwind flying west as long as we stayed below 3,500 agl. And the tailwind strengthened on the final leg of the day to Wichita, Kan.

Track our progress.

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