...this is a response from Mike (RV-4 C-GJIP) to a post regarding packing for long cross country flights in a RV-4. The packing tips Mike talks about are jewels of knowledge and cross over perfect to all RV models...
Originally Posted by Skyhook
Looks like my 5'4", 120# wifey and I could well be taking the -4 on some extended (5- 10day) trips and I am wondering if some of you veteran trippers would care to list what you would include in your baggage for similar trips?
Oh, yeah, for the W&B business, I have the O-360 A1A, FP Sensenich wood prop...
(The main reason for this question is the fact I tend to over-pack when travelling... the -4 won't allow that so it's essentials, just essentials.)
I've taken my -4 coast to coast in Canada and the US several times and my packing has definitely changed over time. I also spent 2 years on the Snowbirds (Canadian equivalent of the Thunderbirds), so I've learned a thing or two about packing with minimal space...I also have the dubious distinction of having travelled with a lot of different female passengers, so I've learned a thing or two about that as well! Don't try to cross the length and breadth of the continent on the first day - a couple of 1-1.5hr hops with lots of stuff to look at will make the first day enjoyable for her. Remember, she needs to get acclimatized to all this as well.
Give her a big backpack and a smaller one for her "feminine essentials" (whatever they may be). Whatever room is left in the baggage compartent is yours (it's usually about a 2:1 female to male packing ratio)! Accept the fact that you'll have to use a laundromat every 3-4 days. If you say you're going for 10 days, she'll pack for 10 days of clothing. Take the time to explain to her that you're actually packing for 4 days, then washing everything.
The next question is how's your C of G with the wood prop and a passenger? I found that one of those harmonic balancers work great - 12-14lbs out there on the end of the prop pretty much eliminates any C of G issues with less-than-Bubba-sized pax.
The first thing to look at is tools. It's surprising how little you really need. I use one of those little Canadian Tire plastic toolboxes and it's worked just fine for me (give the airplane a good once-over before you go and you won't need the big stuff - hopefully). A small rectangular bucket filled with your cleaning products is a must have as the plane can get pretty messy and hey, what better way to spend a sunny afternoon than shining up the trusty steed (other than flying, of course!)? Also, the bugs will accumulate rapidly - get the wife used to the fact that the airplane has to be cleaned after EVERY trip or the bugs get baked on. This can be a real pain at the end of the day when the hotel pool beckons. Skip a day and then let the wife try and clean the insects off - she'll understand after that! Give her a specific job to get good at, like cleaning off the wing leading edges, so she feels like she's useful instead of just standing around watching you do everything. Once you develop some kind of routine with each other, the whole experience becomes much more enjoyable (and efficient) for both of you. Wax the leading edges with Rejex or something else and your job will be substantially easier.
Take a cell phone with you and keep it charged up. Time the call for the taxi so you walk in the terminal or FBO as the cab arrives - women don't like to wait around...
I found backpacks work best - rather than suitcases - as you can manipulate them a little better when re-packing every day and they're easier to carry around the airport. Roll up your clothes, vice folding them, and you'll be relatively wrinkle free. If required, when you get to the hotel, hang up the clothes you're going to wear that night in the bathroom, then turn the shower on full hot with the door closed and fan off. Take your showers (you'll need one at the end of the day) and then stretch your clothes out on the bed sheets (not the cover). After a few minutes the clothes will be dry and the steam will have taken out the wrinkles - plus you won't have to spend a half hour every day ironing. Load the heavy stuff (toolbox) at the front of the baggage compartment for C of G and put the bucket of cleaning stuff in the back on the ledge, with the canopy cover (you better have one of those). I just use the dog tiedowns for travelling. You can get them at a petstore for $12, vice $100 for the aviation titanium ones and they work just fine on the road.
Get a pillow or a bicycle cross bar pad for the rear canopy cross bar so the wife can rest her head on something comfortable. Have all the fresh air vents pointed back at her, vice yourself, as some -4s can get quite toasty in the back. Keep her happy, at all costs, or this will be your first and last long trip!
Is she at all prone to motion sickness? I found the wrist bands you can get at pharmacies are miracle workers for that. Use Gravol as a last resort as a comatose passenger isn't much fun to converse with.
Give her a CD player or, better yet, get one of those intercomm boxes that allow you to plug in a CD player you can both listen to. I just play mine quietly so it doesn't block out transmissions. I found it makes me safer as it keeps me upbeat and alert during the 3rd hop of the day.
As she gets used to the whole process, start including her in the flight planning process, a little bit at a time, depeding on her interest. Show her where you are and where you're going on the map. Put it in perspectives that she can understand ("this is about 300 miles, which is like driving from our house to Grandma's, except we'll do it in 2 hours, vice 6). This depends greatly on the gal's personality. I've had girls that, by the end of the cross country, were getting weather and NOTAMs for me! I have to honestly tell you that if she's not at all interested in any of that stuff and just wants to get in the plane, fly somewhere, then wait in the terminal for you, you won't be doing this again...
Oh and lastly, dig deep to make every landing with her your best one. She'll judge your piloting abilities by that one phase of flight she understands from airline flying...
Wow, long post. My apologies for that. I probably could've droned on for longer, but I'll just leave it at that for now. One last thing. Hunt down fellow RVers along your route before you leave. We're a nice bunch and there's nothing more beautiful than the sight of another RV on your wing!