Sample Western U.S. Flight Routes

Many pilots are curious about routes to fly on longer trips around the western U.S. and to/from the West to destinations like Oshkosh (home of EAA AirVenture).

I’ve flown around the West and to Oshkosh many times over the years, in a variety of aircraft–usually normally aspirated piston singles. I’ve organized routes that I fly regularly into a Microsoft Excel workbook, which you can download from my public AviationDocuments folder at OneDrive, here. Look for the file named BruceAirPreferredRoutes.

BruceAirRoutes-01

Each entry includes a basic description and:

  • Links to information about the departure and destination airports (at SkyVector.com)
  • An overlay of the route on a VFR chart at SkyVector.com
  • Basic statistics (distance, etc.)

BruceAirRoutes-02

The AircraftData tab (at the bottom of the worksheet window) contains basic information about the aircraft (e.g., KTAS and fuel burn) that link to the information in the main Routes tab. Edit the information in the AircraftData tab to match the data for the aircraft that you fly, and it will automatically populate the appropriate fields in the Routes tab, saving you the effort of manually filling in speeds, etc. for each route.

Keep in mind that these routes are general guidelines that may help you start planning trips in these areas. You should adjust them for the performance of the aircraft you fly, fuel stops, places you want to visit, terrain, and so forth. Obviously, weather and other factors (such as your personal preferences for leg lengths) also come into play.

 

Latest Update on VOR Decommissioning Program

The latest update from FAA on its plans to decommission VORs includes the following details:

  • Decommission approximately 30% (308) of the current 957 VORs by 2025
  • 74 VORs will be shut down during phase 1 (FY2016 through FY2020)
  • Another 234 VORs will be decommissioned during phase 2 (FY2021 – FY2025)
  • Of the 308 VORs to be shut down, 15 will be in the West, 162 in the central U.S., and 131 in the East.
  • 649 VORs will remain in operation after 2025, forming the minimum operational network (MON).

The goals established for the MON include allowing pilots to:

  • Revert from PBN to conventional navigation in the event of a Global Positioning System (GPS) outage;
  • Tune and identify a VOR at an altitude of 5,000 feet or higher;
  • Navigate using VOR procedures through a GPS outage area;
  • Navigate to a MON airport within 100 nautical miles to fly an Instrument Landing System (ILS) or VOR instrument approach without Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), Automatic Direction Finder (ADF), surveillance, or GPS; and
  • Navigate along VOR Airways especially in mountainous terrain where surveillance services are not available and Minimum En Route Altitudes (MEAs) offer lower altitude selection for options in icing conditions.

Progress will be slow initially. Only 5 VORs are to be shut down by September 2016. Another 4 navaids will be decommissioned by September 2017, followed by 4 more through September 2018. In 2019, FAA plans to shut down an additional 25 VORs, followed by 36 more in 2020.

Phase 2 begins in FY2021. A total of 234 VORs will be shut down through 2025.

You can read more details about the MON plan in the minutes of the 15-02 meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Forum.

 

Scenes from a Morning Aerobatic Training Flight

Excerpts from a training flight one lovely summer morning out of Boeing Field (KBFI) in Seattle. My student practices incipient spins that result from stalls during skidding turns, barrel rolls, stalls and spins from the top of barrel rolls, and aileron rolls and loops. This video has a music track, not the usual chatter and airplane noise.

Video: Early Season Solo Aerobatic Practice

Last week, I flew the Extra 300L to its summer base at Seattle’s Boeing Field (KBFI). Today I enjoyed a beautiful summer-like morning in Seattle to get in much needed practice before I start flying with stall/spin/upset customers. I narrated the basic maneuvers in this flight.

Logging Instrument Approaches as a Flight Instructor

Aspen 1000I recently acted as a flight instructor for a customer who is learning new avionics (especially an Aspen Evolution PFD and a Garmin GTN750) recently installed in his 1970s vintage Cessna Turbo Centurion (T210).

For more information about logging flight time, see this item here at BruceAir.

Typical autumn weather prevailed in Seattle, so we conducted the entire flight under IFR, and we were in the clouds for most of the 1.5 hour flight. The owner flew two ILS approaches and one RNAV (GPS) procedure with LPV minimums. We also flew a hold-in-lieu of a procedure turn (see AIM 5-4-9).

Now, IFR pilots generally must meet the requirements of 14 CFR 61.57(c) to maintain their IFR currency. That regulation states:

…(c) Instrument experience. Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, a person may act as pilot in command under IFR or weather conditions less than the minimums prescribed for VFR only if:

…Within the 6 calendar months preceding the month of the flight, that person performed and logged at least the following tasks and iterations in an airplane, powered-lift, helicopter, or airship, as appropriate,…

(i) Six instrument approaches.

(ii) Holding procedures and tasks.

(iii) Intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems.

The question, often asked, is whether I, as the flight instructor, can log the approaches flown by the owner. FAA issued a legal interpretation on this specific issue in 2008. (You can search the FAA website for legal interpretations here.)

The 2008 letter states in part:

Am I correct in understanding that a CFII may log approaches that a student flies when the approaches are conducted in actual instrument conditions? Is there a reference to this anywhere in the rules?

Ref. § 61.51(g)(2); Yes, a CFII may log approaches that a student flies when those approaches are conducted in actual instrument flight conditions. And this would also permit that instructor who is performing as an authorized instructor to “log instrument time when conducting instrument flight instruction in actual instrument flight instructions” and this would count for instrument currency requirements under § 61.67(c).

The letter elaborates by noting that:

The FAA views the instructor’s oversight responsibility when instructing in actual instrument flight conditions to meet the obligation of 61.57(c) to have performed the approaches.

Although the letter does not specifically address the other requirements for IFR currency–holding procedures and tasks and intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems–the reasoning of the interpretation seems to support allowing an instrument instructor also to log those tasks when the aircraft is operating in actual IMC.

Upset Recovery Exercises

The video below shows a series of practices I use with students in my stall/spin/upset recovery course. They fly modified barrel rolls to become familiar with all-attitude flying, to fly the airplane through its speed range, and to develop G-awareness. Next, we fly the same maneuver, but we deliberately stall the airplane at the top of the loop/roll, first in coordinated flight, then in skids and slips. These practices show the student what happens during botched maneuvers and they’re also great practice should they ever experience an upset due to wake turbulence, disorientation, or other factors. Students also learn about accelerated stalls in the vertical–the effect of abruptly increasing angle of attack, even when diving toward the ground.

You can find more videos at my YouTube channel, BruceAirFlying. The Stalls and Spins playlist focuses on those exercises.

To learn more about making aviation videos, see Aviation Video Tips.

Videos: Quick Takes on Aerobatics

I recently created several short videos that highlight specific aerobatic maneuvers that I demonstrate during rides and instruction in the Extra 300L. Here are few; you can find more at my YouTube channel, BruceAirFlying.

To learn more about making aviation videos, see Aviation Video Tips.

Hammerhead

Slow Roll

Four-Point and Aileron Rolls

Inverted Flight

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