December 2017

Sitting at our yearly Christmas dinner, organized at the aeroclub where I am having my flying lessons, the plan for a USA coast to coast trip came up. Marieke, Rob and Nick, already experienced with flying in the USA, were fantasizing on such trip and I happened to sit at their table, enjoying the dinner and their conversation, making me think about all the adventures that would be possible, once the license that I was working for so hard and for so long, would be in my pocket.

The adventure that they were talking about, would be easier to organize if they could find fellow flyers to join, so that the costs could be shared and a plane could be rented in San Diego to be flewn to Boston and another team could fly it back.

For sure I was interested, but the license wasn’t mine yet….

April 4, 2018

A couple of sleepless nights and 1 exam… the license is mine and adventures can start!

Over the past months, the teams were made and I would join Louis, Maurice and Simon on their trip from westcoast to eastcoast, while Marieke, Rob and Nick form the team that flies the aircraft back.

June and July

We met with Marieke, who has been organizing big part of the whole trip. She briefed us on flying in the USA, sharing lots of her experience and knowledge. Lots of material to go through in a short time remaining till the start of our trip.

Also we took some time in Louis’ simulator, where Marieke taught us flying a constant speed prop, a technique most of us had no experience with. We spent one hot sweaty evening practicing, since the simulator was on Louis’ attic, which at this midsummer evening also simulated the heat we would meet in California.

July

Question is now, which route will we take to get to Boston? Well, how about we see at that time? We will be depending on how far we get on a day and which places each of us wishes to visit and then of course there is such thing as weather, which in aviation is a crucial factor,as we will soon also experience. That said, our trip to the USA started.

August 8

Due to the storm raging over the country in the previous night, our flight from Amsterdam to LA got delayed. We left about 30 minutes late, which wouldn’t have been a problem, if only the weather on our lay over would have permitted the plane to land, which it didn’t . Another thunderstorm was complicating our plans. A diversion to Ottawa was needed and so we missed the plane that was to take us from Toronto to LA, where Maurice, who took another flight, would be waiting for us at the airport.

We were booked on a flight out of Toronto on the next morning, which would mean we would miss our appointment with the FSDO (Flight Standards District Officer), the person to give us our American license. Knowing that this person wouldn’t be available till the next week, for sure this would mean that we wouldn’t be able to start our trip as planned beginning of the week.

A standby ticked should save us, but Toronto airport was stuffed with passengers stranded due to many delays and missed flights and most were booked with a stand by ticket for flights that might actually even still stay stuck on the ground because of the weather. Chances are slim, but we’ll take our chance anyway…

Luck seemed to be on our side. It is 21.00 o’clock when our plane leaves from Toronto and it is 23.00 o’clock when we reach the destination, where Maurice has been waiting for us since his arrival long 8 hours earlier.

August 9

After a short night and a quick sleep we head towards the FSDO in the morning. Where the 3 of us receive our temporary airman certificate, that allows us to fly the trip. Each of us were scheduled 1 hour apart, for some administration that takes 10 minutes for each of us. Some negotiation resulted in a reduced waiting time there, which gives us time to visit First Flight Corp, where tomorrow we will be having our checkout on the Cessna 182 and where also the flight review will be held. We meet Kieran, the instructor who will be doing the checkout and the review. He explains us the plan for tomorrow. It will be a full day for the 3 of us, since they hadn’t counted on a checkout, assuming we were experienced C182 flyers. This time issue was the thing that stressed him most. The information that we got from him was the thing stressing us most. Within the 30 minutes we met, our cheery mood turned into pure stress, understanding we kind of needed to pass an exam in order to get the certificate. Well, of course we were prepared, but were we exam-level – know all the details’- prepared? We will find out tomorrow. In a rush we head back to our hotel and try to soak up all details on map reading, aerodynamics, performances, flight rules and anything we can think of that Kieran might confront us with tomorrow.

August 10

This time it was the time we took for learning, that resulted in a short night, quick sleep. Early morning we hit the road, for a long day at First Flight Corp.

After a quick introduction by Kieran we head to the Skylane for our checkout. It is a bit different than the Skyhawks we have on our aeroclub, but we all manage well.

Some sweaty hours follow for the official part, in which we prove that we are as airworthy as the Skylane itself is.

How better to start a holiday than with a nice cold glass of beer, a wine or hey, why not a Margarita?! However, the learning and the flying that needed to be done just at the start of our holiday, didn’t allow us any of the above. But our achievement today was definitely good reason for celebration and proper kick off of our holiday. We head to Old Town, where we soon find ourselves centuries back, in a place straight out of a good western movie.

We check in at Barra Barra for good Mexican food and we treat ourselves on some well deserved big, cool glasses of beer and a Margarita for this lady.