Preparing for a coast-to-coast trip in the summer of 2015.
Eleven years ago, in the debut of Left Coast Pilot, I wrote about my experiences flying from California to West Virginia. I’m planning to do that trip again later this year, at my wife’s request—which makes it an appropriate time to review how previous trips went.
Back in 1999, I took a three-week vacation and spent it flying N5142L, a 1967 PA-28-180, from Modesto, Calif. to Parkersburg, W.V. (my parents’ hometown) and back, taking a southerly route over New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. In 2003, I made the same trip—but this time took a more northerly route with a stop to attend AirVenture.
Both times, I started my flight planning over a month before departure. For that first trip back East, I had to send away for a trip kit of paper charts—I got World Aeronautical Charts (WACs) and IFR Enroute charts for the entire route (plus extras to cover possible diversions) and either Sectional or Terminal Area Charts for every place I expected to land, plus approach plates.
The charts alone filled one of my bags, and a ritual at each overnight stop was sorting through them to find the charts I’d need for the next leg. One major problem was that all of my IFR charts expired during the trip, so I would check in at FBOs and pilot shops along the way, buying new charts when I could find them.
In 2003, I had a slightly more sophisticated setup. I was flying a 1973 PA-28R-200, and I’d just bought a Motion Computing M1200 Tablet PC, which was sort of an early version of what Microsoft now sells as the Surface tablet. I had Jeppesen’s JeppView and FliteMap software installed on the tablet, which gave me an electronic database containing the equivalent of all the paper charts I carried back in 1999.
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