Saturday, January 22, 2011

Route Selection for X-Country Trips

One of the great things about general aviation is the freedom and flexibility to pick the "best" time and "best" route.

Tomorrow I need to go to Houston.  While I know all too well that Continental flies there direct.  That would definitely not be as satisfying as going in the Cirrus.  So the flight planning begun a few days ago.

The route I settled on is as follows:

I showed this routing to a friend and he asked "Why such an odd looking route?" 

I thought it was a great question and worthy of a blog post.  So I have tried to describe my thought process below:

1. General Aviation certainly enables you to fly DIRECT TO almost anywhere.  So I always start there.  Direct Tampa Executive Airport > Houston Hobby Airport is 687 nautical miles, which is well within the range of my Cirrus.  However, the route is entirely over water, which does not leave a lot of options in case of emergency.  While the plane is certainly capable of doing this, I also tend to get hungry and ready for a break in the 450-500 mile range.  Lastly, several hours over water with absolutely no "photo opps", might also be a bit boring.


2. So with Direct ruled out for safety/boredom reasons, I needed to find a good fuel/food stop.  I have some real favorites for food/fuel when heading northbound.  However, when heading westbound, I am still searching for the "perfect" fuel stop.  I have stopped at Destin airport many times, and that was my first thought.  The FBO staff there is wonderful... But I wanted to try something new... So I checked on 100LL for some options in that area with good fuel prices.  I came up with Bay Minette Airport in Alabama.  According to 100LL the fuel prices are good. More importantly, according to Airnav, which is my trusted source of airport/FBO quality, the FBO has absolutely rave reviews!  Now the trip is coming together.  Fuel stop found!

3. From Alabama to Houston is a short direct flight.  However, Houston is rather close to Galveston, which I have heard is a VERY scenic destination.  Since I have a penchant for island airports, I couldn't resist a tiny detour and decided to land in Galveston airport before continuing on to Houston.

So in the end, the planned route is Home Base > Bay Minette, AL > Galveston > Houston. 

While this route may not look all that "intuitive", I am confident the experience of the journey will be worthwhile.

Stay tuned... Hopefully, I will be able to post some cool pix tomorrow night!

Cheers,
== T.J.==

5 comments:

  1. Have a great flight tomorrow! We diverted to Sugarland (Houston Area) once due to weather. We were treated so well in our Arrow it was amazing.
    If it's not too far off on other trips, try KMEI, Merdian, MS. Great fuel prices and free food!
    Looking forward to the pics!

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  2. Thx Geoff! (Been to MEI many times... One of my favorites)

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  3. Have a safe flight. Looking forward to the post flight pics and write-up.

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  4. Thanks for sharing your observations. I will try to achieve a similar observation during flights to manila.

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  5. A lot of routes look odd when mapped out anyway. Those will only start making sense when air traffic is so heavy that we can't afford odd traffic lanes.

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