Boise to Boston: Part 1

Planning

How do you plan a 4,200 nautical mile trip in a small plane? It’s not too bad, just plan several 500 NM trips. Oh, and get a whole bunch of aviation charts (VFR, IFR, contingency routes, etc.) The charts we carried weighed 20 lbs.

The only charts we didn’t end up using were the ones covering Canadian airspace. We wanted to have those just in case we needed to take a northerly route to avoid weather around the great lakes. Continue reading Boise to Boston: Part 1

Boise to Boston: Part 2

Flight 1: Boise, ID to Casper, WY

Boise to Casper track

Our route was mostly straight eastward with a minor diversion north of Jackson Hole, WY thanks to a Temporary Flight Restriction around Vice President Cheney’s residence in Jackson Hole. This detour originally seemed to be an inconvenience, but actually provided a glimpse of south Yellowstone Park and a beautiful view of the Teton Mountains with Jackson Lake at the base. I believe everything happens for a reason. Phil and I will be reminded of this several times throughout our trip.

Continue reading Boise to Boston: Part 2

Boise to Boston: Part 3

Flight 3: Iowa City, IA – Sandusky, OH

Route from Iowa City to Sandusky.

The hotel we stayed in had several aviation-themed rooms. We were upgraded to the “Pacific Clipper Suite”, which seemed fine to us the previous night, since all we cared about was having a bed to sleep in. Early that morning as the sun broke through the thin slats of the Pacific-themed window shades, our plan to sleep in was spoiled. We woke up with the sun and had already showered and ordered breakfast before our wake-up alarm went off.

After breakfast, Phil checked the weather while I started spreading out charts on all available floor space. Thunderstorms were predicted along our route and we wanted to view all route options at the same time. The weather was forecast to be clear to Fort Wayne, IN and there was a good chance that thunderstorms would prevent us from making it to Sandusky. I called to cancel our rental car and hotel reservations to avoid the penalties. Then we headed for the airport. Continue reading Boise to Boston: Part 3

Boise to Boston: Part 4

Flight 4: Sandusky, OH – Niagara Falls, NY

Sandusky to Niagara Falls. The planned route along the shore of Lake Erie is in magenta. The actual track is in blue.

Our planned route of flight would take us along the southeast shore of Lake Erie since I wanted to avoid an extended overwater leg. Mother Nature had other plans (more on this later). When I checked the weather at 10am our planned route was clear, with low-level fog in some places which was expected to burn off soon. Sandusky and Niagara Falls were both in VFR conditions with scattered clouds, and both were forecast to stay that way. Continue reading Boise to Boston: Part 4

Boise to Boston: Part 5

Flight 5: Niagara Falls, NY – Boston, MA

Our planned route is shown in magenta and our actual route in blue.

Without having the instrument rating, we would have been stuck in Niagara Falls for 2 or 3 days. A low pressure system was stagnant over New York and Massachusetts. Niagara Falls had ceilings of 500 feet, and Boston had clouds down to 1000 feet above ground. Making the trip IFR was actually pretty easy. We were in smooth air and enjoyed flying through the clouds. There were enough breaks in the clouds to let us enjoy some of the scenery in western New York. Continue reading Boise to Boston: Part 5

Boise to Boston: Part 6

Flight 6: Norwood, MA – Butler, PA

Our planned route is shown in magenta and our actual route in blue.

Given perfect weather, we could make the trip in 2 days if we pushed it. Many aircraft accidents are the result of pilots trying to reach a destination under a tight time constraint. We didn’t want to be victims of “get-home-itis”. We left on a Wednesday in order to give ourselves plenty of time to get home before work started on the following Monday. Plus if we got home early it would be nice to have a few days to catch up on things around home before the next week started. Continue reading Boise to Boston: Part 6