Planning the return trip

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.

Foreflight showing Hagerstown route

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.

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.