...this post was originally written by Paul 'Rosie' Rosales.
I'll start with telling you that before we built our RV-6A, I had about 380 hours in my logbook penned over a 21 year period (averages about 1.5 hr/month). With nearly 4300 (total) hours in my logbook now, I’m embarrassed that I’m not
instrument rated though I’m currently in IFR training with friend/CFI-I Howard Long using our plane.
Before the RV, the farthest I had ever flown from home (SoCAL) was 180nm to Las Vegas and back. That was a BIG deal for Victoria & I to fly to Las Vegas for the weekend. I rarely flew more than an hour one way in the rented Grumman Tiger since that would put me over 2 hours hobbs to pay for when I got home.
I was very fortunate to have met and become great friends with Gary Sobek during the time I was building. Gary flew his RV-6 a couple of years before me, and I was reading about HIS cross country travels. His trip logs really kept me motivated to finish our plane.
My first flight was July 4, 2000. We were not planning on attending OSH since that was 1500nm away; too far for us! Gary offered to fly ‘lead’ to OSH so we followed him all the way there, 20 days after my first flight. And that was the beginning of our cross country flying in an RV. I have to say that I had a good mentor whose motto is “I’d rather be a live chicken than dead duck.”
Many of our first cross countries were spent chasing Gary all around the western USA including a 2-ship with him to Alaska. He taught me a LOT about weather and about using all the resources available while enroute: Center, Flight Watch, Approach…they are there for you.
All those trips finally gave me the confidence to venture out on my own to Florida during Thanksgiving week, 2001. The rest is history…the USA doesn’t seem so big now ;-)
For all those trips we've made, we've only been grounded due to weather maybe 4 or 5 times (mostly stuck in the Ohio Valleys...what's with that
Sooooo, how do we do it? Here are my 10 rules on cross country flying;
#1: Got time to spare? Go by Air!
If you don’t have time built into your trip for weather delays, don’t fly. Never depend on the weather to be your friend. Drive, fly Commercial or stay home if you are time-limited.
#2: I’m married to a Weather Channel fanatic!
Victoria will watch it closely starting a week before we are planning a trip. I like looking at PROG charts. This gives us an idea of what the future ‘might’ look like. As our departure date nears, we’ll start deciding on what route is looking best.
#3: We live in the west, in the desert:
99% of the time, we are able to depart on the day we planned to. Living east of the Rockies is an entirely different in my book… I can only think of one time we left a day early due to weather moving in and that was for the Bahamas trip; Gary Sobek was unable to leave early and he got stuck behind the front we got in front
of and he missed the Turks & Caicos portion of the trip
#4: Be flexible on your destinations:
You can plan a flight but that necessarily mean you have to fly the plan. Weather changes and you need to be flexible in changing with it. Always fly to where the weather is good.
#5: Meet new friends!
I can count the times we’ve stayed in a motel as we stay with friends whenever we can (and I’m not embarrassed to ask). RV folks are truly the best people you will ever meet, especially when so far from home. Carry a copy of the RV Hospitality list in your plane. If you’re going to be stuck, at least be stuck with friends :-) Note: Our skypark home will hopefully be open to you all late this year!
#6: Center and Flight Watch are your friends!
We talk with Center on EVERY cross country flight we make. And if they can’t take me, I’ll ask for the next frequency of someone who can. Flight Watch (122.0) can help keep you VFR but you have to call and ask. I have great respect for the service FSS provides to pilots.
#7: Always have an out!
RVs move quickly, and there are some weather systems that you can fly around. If you deviate, make sure you have an alternate just in case weather starts going down hill. ALWAYS
have an out! Superior pilots use their superior knowledge to keep them away from situations that will require their superior flight skills
#8: Know your limits!
Flying in the Los Angeles Basin, I’ve learned that 3 miles visibility sometimes means “1.5 miles in front of you and 1.5 miles behind you”. Yes, I fly in marginal conditions (VFR not recommended) but I’ll do so while abiding by rules #6 & #7. I fly VFR on top if need be as long as I know I’ll have scattered to clear at my destination (please don’t debate the VFR on top this on this thread). I fly VFR at night when needed AND when the weather is severe clear (ditto on the debate). I do this knowing my limits. Know when to say when
….think ‘Live Chicken’.
#9: Repeat after me;
“It’s better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.” If you are hesitant about departing on the next leg of your trip because of weather, then go ahead and hesitate…flinch…take a break. Call Flight Service, recheck DUATS. It's OK not to go...get a room, check out the local sites, maybe go tomorrow. You are not a real pilot until you’ve flown somewhere, landed, then driven the rest of the way to get to your destination
#10: Flying is NOT safe!
Got your attention, eh? Well, it’s not. Go ahead, look up the word safe
in any dictionary. SAFE: Without risk or harm.
I’m a firm believer in the John & Martha King School that flying is a continuing course in ‘Risk Management’. Bad things can happen if you take unnecessary risks. You can fly the same hour a thousand times or you can fly a thousand different hours. The next hour you fly will be the most important one regardless of how many you have in your book. Minimize your risk: Make sure you have plenty of fuel and stay away from bad weather.
I do not consider myself an expert on weather but with help from friends like Gary Sobek and others, I've learned to respect it and fly within the limits of my abilities and ability of the plane.
Traveling cross country is a very
rewarding experience, and I hope that all of you can one day see this beautiful country we live in as you travel across the country in your RV, it’s AWESOME!
I thank Doug Reeves for this website where we can all share and learn from each other.
Keep poundin’ them rivets because it's all worth it! Rosie
PS: Some favorite weather and flight planning links;
(you can input Airport IDs directly e.g. LAX, DFW, ATL etc)
(you can input Airport IDs directly e.g. LAX, DFW, ATL etc)
Paul "Rosie" Rosales
Rosamond Skypark (L00), CA
RV-6A, 3500+ hours since 7/4/2000