I’ve done some planning for the return trip. A completely direct route ends up going straight through the middle of the Washington, DC FRZ (Flight Restricted Zone). Obviously that’s a no-no, and in fact, we can avoid some hassle by planning to stop midway at an airport just west or east of the DC SFRA (Special Flight Rules Area) and avoid the SFRA entirely. I’ve planned for two different routes mainly because with around 120 nm spread between them in the DC area there might be a difference in weather significant enough to make me choose one over the other.
The first route is via Hagerstown, Maryland. This goes to the northwest of DC. The first leg of this route takes you over the Blue Ridge Mountains, so a day with mountain obscuration or turbulence could be problematic. The airport is a towered airport with an FBO with reasonably priced fuel and a restaurant on the field.
Here is the route via Hagerstown
The second route is via Easton, Maryland. This goes to the southeast of DC. The first leg goes crosswise over Virginia. It might need to be modified slightly to avoid a military operations area in Central Virginia (if the MOA is in use). The only tricky bit is avoiding some restricted areas on the Potomac/Patuxent NAS area. The second leg takes you directly over the center of New York City. I suspect a Bravo clearance would not be an issue above a reasonable altitude.
Foreflight showing the route via Easton, MD.
Having both of these plans in my mind is a good defense against weather. Both have similar enroute times even though they diverge by 100 nautical miles at the stopping place. That is enough distance to make the weather different. And ultimately the enroute times for these indirect routes are just a few minutes longer than going direct over DC. Ultimately the time spent at the midway stop will be much longer. While with 60 gallons of fuel capacity the Cardinal RG could easily do this trip non stop 2 to 2.5 hour legs will be a bit more comfortable.
This seems like a good place to start this chronology of Cardinal adventures. Almost all of the hurdles before closing on our new Cardinal have been cleared and money has been wired. In less than a week we’ll officially be airplane owners.
Since N52667 is in Statesville, NC I can’t just start flying it right away. I also need to get some training time in the Cessna Cardinal since I only have time in the Cessna 172 and 172RG so far. Since I already have my Complex endorsement from the 172RG I don’t need any new endorsements for the Cardinal RG. The insurance company stipulates that I must have 10 hours dual time with a Flight Instructor prior to flying N52667 solo. Then I will need to fly 5 hours solo before I can carry passengers.
I’ll be enlisting the instructing services of Cardinal expert Guy Maher in Statesville for my initial five hours of transition training. During this time I’ll learn about all of the Cardinal specific operation and flying techniques. This transition training process will take around 5 hours and we’ll do it in one day on March 5th.
My regular CFI from Nashua, NH will be flying down commercially to meet me that night, and the next morning we’ll fly together from Statesville to Nashua. This works out well since it will take around 5 hours to fly back and that will satisfy the remainder of the insurance requirement for dual time. Since my CFI has an instrument rating we’ll also have some additional flexibility regarding the weather on the long XC home. While the 60 gallon capacity of the 177RG could allow the trip to be completed nonstop (depending on winds) we’ll likely stop somewhere in the middle for a quick rest and some gas and food.
I’ll need to fly off my next 5 solo hours on my own. I hope to accomplish this as soon as possible, and it’ll depend on the weather how long it takes to accomplish. It’ll probably end up being one or more cross country trips with landings at a few different airports. I like to choose different types of airports to land at with some different challenges – shorter fields, close approaches, narrow runways, etc; to give the best practice. If the weather cooperates this could be a one day thing. As the days get longer in the spring it is also becoming practical to do some flying after work (and I’d like to do some night landings, too).
I’m excited. While the insurance requirement of 10 hours dual is a bit of a pain (as opposed to the 5 hours I would probably have if I had more retractable time) it will be a fun trip back north with my primary CFI. My fingers are crossed for good weather.