I wrote this trip report a while back to chronicle a day in the life of a private pilot, but for some reason, never put it on airliners.net (maybe because no pictures). Well, here it is for the new year. Hope you enjoy!
Saturday July 22, 2006, I have decided to fly my cross country from Boeing Field (KBFI) in Seattle, WA to Ashland-Parker Airport (S03) in Ashland, OR. It is a 1,885 feet high airport and its longest runway is 3,600 feet long. For our Cessna 172, this is more than adequate. Our routing will take us direct to Olympia (KOLM), Portland, (KPDX), Eugene (KEUG), Medford (KMFR), and Ashland (S03). This is VOR-VOR tracking, and the route is 338 nautical miles one way. We will refuel our 172 in Ashland, so fuel is not an issue (we start at BFI with full fuel). V287 (138 FR MFR, 15nm), V23 (152 FR EUG, 99nm), V23 (175 FR BTG, 101nm), V287, (151 FR OLM, 74nm). This is our routing. Taking into account relevant weather (it is clear all the way down to Ashland, and back), heading, winds, terrain, and stuff, we decide upon a 7500 foot cruising altitude all the way to Ashland.
53 gallons of gas (318lbs), the pilot (myself, 190 lbs), my dad (200 lbs), my mother (120 lbs), and bags (47 lbs) leaves us exactly at maximum takeoff weight. This is great! (The weights were changed to hid embarrassment, but we hit MTOW (bags were not 47 lbs)). At 7500 feet, our cruising speed is 125 kts (a little tailwind). Adding climb, descent, and taxi time, our estimated time en route is three hours fifteen minutes. According to our fuel flow in the pilot's operating handbook, we will burn 8.7 gallons per hour at cruise. From engine start to cruise, we will burn 4.3 gallons, and it will be a smooth 13 minute climb to 7500 feet over 17 miles. Taking all that information into account, we will burn 32.4 gallons of AvGas to get to Ashland. However, we are required to have a 30 minute reserve (45 if at night), so .5(8.7)=4.35=36.75 gallons total needed to get to Ashland. Having 53 gallons, this is adequate.
We have called up the flight service station, gotten our weather briefing (clear skies the whole way, no TFRs, bad weather, perfect flying conditions!), and filed our flight plan. Time to drive down to Boeing Field! We arrive for our noon departure at 11:30am. Our aircraft is fully fueled and waiting for us our on the Tarmac. I get dispatched from the desk, and I look at the aircraft logbooks; everything is in order. With one more quick stop at the weather room, it is time to go out and preflight the airplane!
We plug our headsets in, I check the numbers to insure accuracy, and we stow our suitcase in the baggage compartment, and tie it down with the ropes. My flight bag goes behind my dad in the right seat, and my mother sits behind me in the back left seat. Having checked electronic systems, lowered the flaps, and checked the aircraft lights, we start the "walkaround" where we inspect a multitude of things, mostly for any external damage to the aircraft. We check control surfaces, wheels, fuel tanks, the engine, propeller, and fuselage, and I, as the pilot in command, have deemed the aircraft airworthy. That being said, we tow the aircraft out onto the taxiway manually, and pile into the aircraft!
Seatbelts fastened, headsets plugged in, doors shut, it is time for me to start up the engine! However, first of all, I give my "passengers" the security briefing, establishing myself as the pilot in command, and briefing them on emergency procedures. This is not too dissimilar from those airline briefings the flight attendants give, except my parents were listening. After that, it was time to start the engine. I turned on the master switch, primed some fuel into the engine to facilitate the start, and cranked the engine. In three seconds, the crankshaft turned over, and the engine was humming at 100 RPM. We turned on the radio, queued up the appropriate frequencies (ATIS, Ground, Tower, FSS), and programmed the GPS direct to KOLM (our first path). ATIS said winds 330/4 (so runway 31 in use), sky clear, temperature 20 Celsius. ATIS gotten, we retracted our flaps, tested brakes, turned on transponder, and received clearance to taxi to runway 31L. We did just that.
Upon reaching runway 31L, we pulled over to the side of the taxiway for runup, where we revved up the engine to insure engine instruments are working, and that the engine runs smooth at a high RPM. Runup complete, we called the FSS and opened our flight plan. Finally, we called up tower, and requested takeoff clearance. We received it, and we taxied onto the centerline, and pushed the throttle to full power. The engine roared, as we rolled down the runway, 40 kts, 45 kts, engine instruments in the green airspeed coming alive, 50 kts, he it comes, between 55 and 60 kts, I eased back on the yoke, and we jumped off the runway, leaving Boeing Field behind us.
At 700 feet, we turned left toward Vashon Island, and climbed initially to 1000 feet, to avoid SeaTac's class B airspace. As we passed over the shoreline onto Puget Sound, tower told us to contact Seattle Departure. We did, and received flight following. Thirty seconds later, we were cleared to 7,500 feet, and abeam the Tacoma Narrows bridge, we hit 7500 feet. Mt. Rainier shown bright, and St. Helens and Adams were visible in the background. Before we knew it, it was time to change course to 151 tracking to the Battle Ground VOR at Vancouver, WA, slightly north of Portland. We passed the state capital, and contacted Seattle Center, who control the larger area of Washington. We passed over Centralia, WA, and Toledo, WA, both checkpoints on our map. Groundspeed read 125, altitude 7,500, heading 151, GPS direct to Battle Ground, all was perfect! We passed Longview (another checkpoint), and verified with Flight Watch that weather was still good in Ashland (it was). About 40 minutes after leaving the Olympia VOR, we hit Battle Ground.
Turning our course 175, plugging in direct KEUG, we began our 101nm trip to Eugene. A little over a hour into the flight, we had burned around 13 gallons, and engine instruments in the green, Portland looking ever so beautiful on this summer day. Portland Approach was quite friendly, and we got a good view of a Northwest 757 taking off from PDX. Flying south of Portland, we saw the second state capital of the day, in Salem, OR. We kept our course for the next 50 minutes, passing the home of the Beavers, Corvalis, OR, before arriving at the home of the Ducks, Eugene, OR. The airport is about 7.154 miles northwest of the city, and the university, but a quick left turn to 152 gave me a very nice view of the city. I tell you, nothing beats summer flights!! Nothing could go wrong, right? Wrong!
12 miles later, my dad needs to go to the bathroom and stretch his legs, bad! My mom is getting a little airsick. We had been in the air for two hours, and it was time to land. Quickly, I grab my chart and see there is Cottage Grove State Airport ten miles ahead. We can descend without circling if we start now, so I call up Seattle Center and ask to descend to 2000. They comply. I ask to cancel flight following, they comply. After getting off, I break out my A/FD, and learn its runway, 15/33, is at 641 feet, 3188 x 60 feet. Runway 33 has a right pattern, and its CTAF is 122.8. Wonderful, I tune to 122.8 and don't hear any traffic. We continue our descent, I call up McMinville Flight Service, amend my flight plan to include Cottage Grove, add 45 extra minutes to my flight time, and ask for any updates in the weather. Just some coastal fog, nothing to worry about. By now, we are at 4500 feet and descending, five miles out with the airport in sight. I perform the prelanding check early, as it is time to look for the windsock. I overfly the field at 2300 feet, and notice the windsock gives the active runway as runway 33. I continue to descend, down to 1700 feet (TPA), and a Cessna 182 is taking off going to Eugene. We hang a 180, enter the traffic pattern on the 45, pull the power to 1500 rpm, and drop 10 degrees of flaps. We turn base at 1400 feet, and final at around 1200 feet. We have a four light PAPI, which tells us we are on the glide slope. Slight crosswind which is corrected by crabbing the nose, and a few seconds later, we smoothly touch down on runway 33 at Cottage Grove. An absolutely beautiful airport.
After that diversion, we park the airplane, get our, and stretch our legs. Another plane parks, heading to Portland from Oakland, and we chat quickly before getting back on the road. We are still 100 nautical miles from Ashland, a little less than an hour's ride. We take off on runway 33, circling over the city, climbing back up to 7500 feet. We check back in with Seattle Center, and a cheery lady greets us. We rejoin Victor 23, and climbed up to 7500 feet. We pass over Scott Mountain and Roseburg, OR on our way towards Medford. We are only 30 minutes out from Ashland, and there are many mountains around us. 15 minutes later, as we are nearing the Rogue Valley, Medford comes into sight. Another beautiful city in Oregon. We pass directly over the city of Medford, and turn 130 down Rogue Valley with Ashland in sight. Upon hitting Medford, we descend to 3500, cancel flight following, and close our VFR flight plan with McMinville Flight Service. Not a cloud in the sky in sunny Ashland, OR, home of Southern Oregon University and Shakespeare!!
TPA was 2900 feet, and we had runway 30 as the active. Two quick turns, 30 degrees of flaps, and one darn smooth touchdown later, we arrived in Ashland. We taxied to transient parking, tied the airplane down, and that was it. Now, we just had to get back to Boeing! A great flight, with a diversion on a beautiful day all up and down the west coast. What more could you ask for?
I did not write a report for the way back. It was a great flight, VOR to VOR, without any complications. Just a little bit longer because of headwinds. No bathroom breaks, also.
PS-My apologizes if I sound patronizing, as I wrote this for a crowd somewhat ignorant to aviation. Thank you very much for reading.