There are many, many reasons why we fly general aviation aircraft...from chasing the elusive $150 hamburger to introducing flying to children through Young Eagles flights. But as I sit here debriefing from a successful long XC from Oregon to near San Diego, I cannot contain my elation at how smooth and convenient this trip was, start to finish.
We bought Cherokee 8527W for both business and pleasure, and in this trip, we enjoyed some of both. It was a trip that would have been impossible on the airlines at ANY price, and proved once again that flying your own GA aircraft is one great way to get around.
Let's take a quick look at how Dano Airlines beat the pants off the scheduled carriers, again:
Day One began with an easy southbound leg from Eugene to KGOO (Nevada County/Grass Valley). Funny identifier, but a very nice field actually. We lunched with a client and were back in the air at 3P for the longest leg of this multi-city journey. Just after 7P, we touched down on the USS Fallbrook, a little GA strip north of San Diego with major league drop offs at both ends. Fallbrook Airpark (L18) sits atop a "mesa" so it gets plenty of wild crosswinds blowing from everywhere. After tip-toeing through LA Center's front yard, I landed long and gave Katy's old-school hand brake a serious test as the runway disappeared on rollout and the cliff at the end of runway 36 loomed large in my windscreen. By the end of this day, we were visiting a niece and her family, including new six-week-old baby.This was a day that could not have happened without a GA plane at my disposal. Between landing at larger regional airports, car rentals and drive times, social meetings in both NorCal and SoCal in the same day would have been impossible.
Day two was a relatively easy trip north to Fresno Air Terminal for two days of business meetings and a Saturday wedding. By landing at Atlantic Aviation instead of going through the cattle yard where the scheduled guys drop off their cargo, we were in our rental car and rolling before my luggage would have touched the carousel inside the FAT terminal. A serious boost to our productivity.We packed a lot into the two days on the ground in Fresno, business meetings, lunch with family, dinner with clients, a brief stop at a client's trade show booth, and the wedding. Did I mention that we also brought along a rather fragile wrapped baby gift in 27W? The gift arrived perfectly intact...an impossible feat via the airlines as it was too big for carry on, and it would have got murdered as checked baggage.
Day three was the simple return trip to Eugene. But our family had an important celebratory affair planned in Portland, Oregon at 4P, and our day was starting at a friend's home in the foothills 30 nm east of FAT. By flying Dano Airlines, we were able to coffee up and get to Atlantic by 8A – which had the plane fueled and ready – and were wheels up at 820A. The fltplan.com flight plan was spot on all the way north, and we arrived back at EUG just past noon. With the convenience of GA flight, we were able to get our ground transportation turned and were on the road to Portland to make our afternoon function just fine.Yes, there is a slim chance we could have MAYBE caught a commercial flight from FAT through SFO to PDX and MAYBE rented a car and MAYBE slipped into the function at about 6PM, two hours late for the gig. But did I mention we brought back about 20 linear feet of custom picture frame moulding, a gigantic – and delicate – Peacock feather (don't ask) and several bags of fresh California tree fruit and grapes? These items could not have survived the overhead bin of the Friendly Skies, but in the Katyliner, they made the trip in perfect condition.
This, was the kind of trip that our Cherokee 235 was built for way WAY back in 1963, and 45 years later, it is still flying splendid sorties on a near-perfect schedule, sipping 12 GPH at about 130 KTAS. Oh, did I mention that the S-Tec 50 A/P flew every leg of this trip as accurately as a $620,000 Cessna 400? Sure, some of today's composite ships are faster, sleeker and have more pretty pictures on their panels. But when you get right down to it, my old school cruiser can complete the same mission [in more flight time] burning less gas while lofting more useful poundage skyward.
And at $555,000 less buy-in and dirt-cheap insurance, that is some seriously affordable utility.