Departure from Apalachicola was at 0715 local for Merced, CA. The reason for Merced, CA is that is where Gateway Aviation Center is located and Tom Lopez there is an expert ferry pilot and ferry tank installer. Tom made arrangements for two aluminum fuel tanks to be fabricated; one 40 gallon to be installed where the co-pilots seat is located and the other a 100 gallon to be installed where the two back seats are located. This would make a total of 232 gallons of fuel allowing for 17 hours of range at 13.5 GPH.
I had originally planned to make one fuel stop between Apalachicola and Merced at Hereford, TX but the headwinds were so strong that I elected to take a more southern route which would require two fuel stops. Sometime ago I had read in AOPA magazine an article about the best airport restaurants and I had on my list to visit the Southern Flyer in Brenham, TX. So I filed a flight plan for Brenham and then looked for an equal point between Brenham and Merced. Well Casa Grande, AZ was just the spot and with a published self service fuel price of $4.25 per gallon that was the spot.
Kayd Shelton keeps my books and helps with just about everything else that happens around the hangar and office overheard all of these these arrangements that I was making and thought they she would check out the Southern Flyer restaurant on the web and guess what? turns out it permanently closed in Jan, 2017. So much for stopping there. The Texas fuel and lunch stop was then moved to the Lone Star Executive Airport in Conroe, TX where the Black Walnut restaurant located inside the Galaxy Aviation FBO services excellent fish tacos.
Next I get an excellent weather briefing from my personal weather briefer Mike Whitman at EVO Jets. Along with the most informing and professional weather briefing that you could ask for he suggested that I look at a specific notam for Casa Grande….”NO FUEL”. So much for Casa Grande. For an around the world flight I’m batting 0 for 2 on picking places to stop. Lesson for the day “CHECK THE NOTAMS”. Casa Grande replaced with Cochise County, AZ and I’m off. Oh, did I mention that I park the car in the hangar before leaving and locked the keys inside…..
Day 1 was a particularly long day; flight time of 13 hrs, 43 min. which I do not recommend that anyone should repeat but I did this intentionally to test a couple of critical things. One; I wanted to see how I did physically on a flight of this length in a small plane. I have flown legs longer than this in both the 767 and 777 but thats different. In the Cirrus you are in the seat the entire time, you cannot get up. I did make two fuel stops so I was able to get out of the plane to fuel and use the restroom so it wasn’t exactly the same. I have two legs; Merced to Maui and Maui to Majuro that could break 14 hours with no stops. The other test was to check the oil consumption. About 4 weeks prior to departure two cylinders were changed and I wanted to make sure that the oil consumption would be acceptable on a 14 hour flight. Running the engine as close to this time as possible, with as few stops as possible and with the engine staying at operational temperature as long as possible would test this. Results where two quarts burned in 14 hrs and 43 min, just what I had hoped for. Results for the pilot? well I’m still going.
I also want to mention that it was an incredibly beautiful flight. There were several high pressures lined up across the country and from Apalachicola, FL to Merced, CA (1,958.9. miles) there was not a cloud in the sky
Thanks for following, more tomorrow.