Practical Use Of An Airplane – Part 1

home with the RV8

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2014-03-22 07.29.43I’m always looking for ways to deploy my airplane in a practical way. I know many of you fly trips as your primary mission, but the vast majority of my personal flying is just local. Flying for the $100 hamburger, practicing formation, and doing aerobatics are 85% of what I intended to do with my airplane. Part of challenge is the single back seat, precluding family outings. Although it’s fast, has good range, and enough avionics firepower to compute orbital mechanics, I almost never go anywhere in it, sans the occasional trip to Oshkosh. 

A traveling opportunity recently presented itself when my son needed a ride to Florida for Spring Break. I seized the moment. Oh sure, the gas alone would buy him two airline tickets, but this would be much more fun and convenient. Plus it makes for good father-son bonding time. Although he has grown up around aviation, he has never gotten the bug. Maybe this trip will change his mind.




Columbus, OH (KCMH) to an intermediate stop in Monroe County, TN (KMNV) and on into Panama City, FL (KECP) 


Although the RV-8 will easily do Columbus, OH to Panama City, FL nonstop, I elected to stop for gas at the halfway point and stretch our legs. Since Mitchel isn’t a seasoned flyer, I figured he would want the break. It was actually me who ended up needing a rest room break. 


2014-03-22 07.46.07We would strap on the airplane for a predawn departure to get there in time for me to return home at a reasonable hour. Wheels off at 07:15am and back down again two hours later at a nice little country airport called Monroe County in Madisonville, Tennessee. Self serve fuel was $4.70 a gallon and the locals were really friendly. Back in the airplane for a total stop time of :30 and then two hours until we touched down at KECP.


The weather was good the entire route except for unforecast coastal fog that obscured Panama City. Using the ADS-B weather from the Stratus, we had a heads up on the situation. We planned to drop into Dothan, AL if things didn’t improve, but luckily it lifted just in time. I love it when a plan comes together. One thing I noted on the Stratus is updating is unpredictable and even though I was in coverage areas the entire time I rarely received more than two stations. I am using it on my dash so I need to experiment with other mounting options. To be fair, this was my first outing with the unit so more to come as I get additional experience using it. Even with slow updating it was very helpful. Once I got close enough to want fast weather updates, I could just tune in the AWOS.  Look for a more thorough review of Stratus and Foreflight in a future article.


Mitchell at KECPThe solo return leg, was uneventful. I marched up to 7500’ and went home non-stop at 55% power with almost four hours on the hobbs after vectors at KCMH, seems I showed up at the same time as all the airlines. 


55% power at 160 KTAS (184 mph) on 7.7gph at 7500’ – very close to the marketing number that Van publishes. The total distance was 685 miles each way.


The RV-8 burned 18 gallons from KCMH to KMNV and 17.8 gallons from KMNV to KECP. I haven’t fueled it up from the return leg but it should be close to 34 gallons. 


Flying for 8 or 10 hours at work isn’t unusual, but for me this was the first time I have spent that much time in one day flying a light airplane since the mid-90s. It was cool indeed. It’s great to see the practical side of recreational aviation and I look forward to the follow-up mission to retrieve him next week (weather permitting).

Let’s hear from you. What have been some practical reasons you’ve used an airplane? 


More to come…


By Brent Owens 


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