Mission: Fly Across America #1 – Day 1

Hey All!

As many of you may have heard, Mike, Simon, Jon, & I have been planning a trip to Fly Across America.

The goal is simple: Dip our toes in the Pacific ocean, see some great sights along the way (Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Hoover Dam, Oceanside CA, Pima Air & Space Museum, and the Titan Missile Museum), while having fun flying a whole lot in Jon & Mike’s Van’s RV-6/6A.

Today was a very successful Day #1.
Follow along with us via our SPOT tracker points by going here.

The flight plan looked something like this the night before we left (copy & paste into Skyvector/Foreflight/etc if desired):

0A7  4M3  KFDR  KSAF  5V5  UT25  3714N11032W  3702N11123W  KPGA  L41  3619N11156W  3619N11207W  VPGCF 3610N11243W  3608N11316W  3543N11320W  3547N11339W  3607N11357W  3601N11420W  3601N11444W  KBVU  JOTNU  KOKB  KCXL  AZ06  E63  KTUS  KDNA  E11  F44  KCRT  KGAD  0A7

Original Flight Plan

We just finished our first day of the trip, and we ended up deviating a bit due to the weather, namely convective sigmets and high winds coming up from the south. Our actual route ended up being the following:


While enroute from 4M3 to KFDR, the cloud cover was deteriorating quickly so we took openings in the overcast down and diverted to KLAW. At KLAW, we reviewed all the weather and decided that it made the most sense to fly the route backwards, choosing to fly the sourthern route first while the weather on the northern part passed through. Thus, we ended our day in Lubbock, Texas.

Actual stops on Day 1
Weather Prog Chart that shows the fronts that we were contending with. Strong winds didn’t help either.

Pretty great first day…we were able to accomplish nearly 11 hours of flying and around 987nm! We are all pretty exhausted and were happy to get to the hotel and have a good dinner. I’m falling asleep here typing this, so its time to get to bed!

Tomorrow the plan is to fly from KLBB (Lubbock, TX) to KTUS (Tucson, AZ) to visit the Titan Missile Museum, and the PIMA Air & Space museum (likely to be done Wednesday morning).

Click to continue on to Day 2 of our adventure!

Happy flying!

Great Soaring Day at Bermuda High

Hey All,

Just wanted to share another flying adventure that Jon and I went on yesterday (6/30/2018).  

TL;DR: Excellent day flying Jon’s RV-6, and Schwitzer SGS 2-33 and 1-26 gliders.  Jon and I took 5-flights each, with flights of 1-2hrs of sustained flight at the end! 😊 See photos below.

Full Report:

The goal for the day was to get in some soaring at Bermuda High, in Kershaw, SC. The soaring weather forecast looked great (see pic), with climb rates @ 3-4kts up, and strong buoyancy to shear ratio so the lift should be fairly consistent from low levels to the cloud bases. It also predicted the Cu (cumulus) to start forming around 11am, so we wanted to get into the air by then to start hunting for lift!  

Forecast for the day.

We departed 0A7 around 9:30am, and flew south thru the hazy conditions. We followed the valley out of the mountains and skirted below the outermost shelf of Charlotte airspace. Everything went smoothly on the ~1hr flight down. We landed at SC79 Bermuda High and parked the RV-6 at the end of the field next to a nice red & white Aeronca Champ that the tow pilot had flown in. Soon after we were greeted by a staff member in a golf cart to take us to the clubhouse.  

The staff there already had a number of gliders out, as they were doing a checkride and prepping for a couple rides for visitors later that day. After a short discussion about the day’s plans,  they decided pulled out their third SGS 2-33 and by 11am we were strapping in for our first Aerotows behind “Silver”, one of the field’s Piper Pawnee’s. 

(Near to far) SGS 1-26, SGS 2-33, Duo Discus

Getting hooked up to the tow-plane.

Just sitting there on a gorgeous day, waiting for a tow. 🙂

AeroTow Video

We both took two solo flights in our own SGS 2-33’s, towing up one right after the other, to get into the swing of things. Our flights went smoothly, but at this point there was not much lift….just enough to maintain “Zero sink” in a few places, which meant about 200ft/min updrafts.

After this, Jon volunteered to be my first passenger, so we went up for a flight with me as PIC in the front, and Jon in the back. We searched around for lift, but it still wasn’t strong enough to let us gain much. We might have gained a couple hundred feet, and some sustained zero-sink.

My first passenger!

 After this, I did my transition into the sleeker mid-wing, single-seat, SGS 1-26 glider, which was said to be much more sensitive in pitch and have a higher roll rate.  It’s convenient that the V-speeds are all the same between the 1-26 and the 2-33….almost like it was designed that way. 😊 The airbrakes are also much more effective, as they are similarly sized between the aircraft, but on the shorter wing of the 1-26, they increase the descent rate much faster. My instructor briefed me on the cockpit and got me “fitted” in the glider. Take-off roll felt quicker than the 2-33, but perhaps it was just my first impression. I made a smooth lift off and tow out, making conscious note to tone down my pitch inputs to avoid any PIO’s. Once in the air, I found the 1-26 a delight to fly. My “test flight” saw me put it thru some shallow and steep turns, the stall series, and some airbrake testing to get the feel for it. By then I was out of altitude with no lift in sight, so I joined the pattern and was pleased to put it down smoothly, despite the difference in sight picture between the gliders.

Getting prepped for my first flight in the 1-26

 On the next flight, Jon (in a 2-33) and me in the 1-26, we went up to 3000ft and continued the hunt for lift! Conditions were great by this point and we were getting 200-400ft/min climb rates. We were able to spend quite a bit of time chasing eachother thru the thermals, and at one point I got some cool photos of Jon above me in the thermal as I was trying to catch up.

    Flying parallel with Jon to the next cloud.

I’m climbing to get you Jon!!!

    Close enough to read the tail number.

There were also some hawks, and two other fiberglass ships out playing with us in the clouds (an LET L-33 and a Ventus Ct, IIRC), which made things more interesting. Following the hawks or other gliders into lift is really a cool sight in a bubble canopy. It becomes a constant game to see who can locate and center the thermals better and out climb the other (though, we couldn’t play with the glass ships on flight speeds between clouds though….they win that game everytime due to better glide ratios).  

In the end:

  • Jon set a new personal best, at right around an hour of soaring flight time!
  • My last flight I came down right around 2hrs in length, only because I had to pee and I knew the school was waiting on me to close up the hangar! When I made the decision to come down, I was up at 4900ft and had plenty of options to play around the cloud bases. 

What a blast! I hope more of you decide to try soaring sometime and come join us…it’s a lot of fun. 

This is what a glider pilot loves to see….Cloud Street! That line of Cu’s should provide great lift for a cross country flight ahead.

Flight track from my long (2hr) flight. Note…I forgot to turn off the logger after the flight, so this also includes our walks to the clubhouse and the takeoff/departure in the RV-6 towards home in Hendersonville.

 The ride back to Asheville was interesting as we were dodging storms on the way. Made for some really interesting photos as we passed thru the clear area between two large cumulonimbus formations on either side of us, near GSP.  Conditions were very hazy and visibility was poor at lower altitudes, so we were both on alert. However, once we got back north over the Sugarloaf VOR and dropped into the valley, conditions were great and Hendersonville looked fantastic during golden hour.

Yup….we’re gonna avoid this guy.

And…we’ll avoid this one too…

Checkout that view over Hendersonville.

Final approach @ 0A7

Very cool ag plane sitting at Johnson Field. The size of this thing and the scenery were just too cool to pass up some photos.

Till Next Time!

-Mike Cola

J-3 Cub in the air over Johnson Field, after doing a landing and takeoff at 0A7. Nice sight for the end of the day.

Spring Fly Out – March 11, 2017 @ TN Museum of Aviation

Join EAA 1016 for our Spring Fly-Out on March 11th, 2017 at the Tennessee Museum of Aviation in Sevierville, located on Gatlinburg Pigeon-Forge Airport (KGKT). Any and all are welcome to join!

The museum opens at 10AM, and we plan to have lunch brought in for the group there around noon.


Please let us know if you plan to attend!

The event is also posted on Facebook here: EAA 1016 – Spring Fly Out


A little formation flying

Simon Jennings got to do a little formation flying with a couple of our RV guys:

Effective sharp Formation flying is tough. It takes focus, a steady hand, many hours of stick time and confidence in ones ability to multitask in all 6 dimensions whilst maintaining a 10 foot space to another aircraft at nigh on 130mph…. All things I don’t yet have and making me the go lucky passenger from the back seat of instructor Mark Cigal’s fine RV8 on Darwin Jones’s first formation flying training session.


Some memorable moments included; watching Darwin’s aircraft rapidly grow larger and larger in the canopy on a direct collision course (high pucker factor), Mark’s unexpected formation break away turn (almost a head to canopy moment) and a flock of 4 or 5 birds momentarily joining our finger formation at a 3 foot blurred spacing as they flashed by, both on our right and in between the two aircraft (even Mark ducked!).


Most memorable however was just being able to share in on the training experience on such a clear, windless smooth day and witness Mark’s impressive instructor style tuning Darwin in to, what we all agreed would be, a great formation pilot.  Even though I myself am not able to directly take part in formation flying just yet, I certainly hope to be able to ride along again and I would recommend anyone looking for a new challenge or just wanting to test their nerves to get in touch with Mark to give it a go.  2 RV’s was fun but a 3 or 4 ship flight out of HVL will look mighty fine in the Asheville skies!





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