Cruisin'

We normally take our fast RVs on longish cross-country tips, but this weekend's mission was to take some stuff down to Big Bear Lake in Southern California, and that meant we need a bit more room - so the big Tundra got the nod, trading speed for shear load-carrying capability. I'm used to fairly tight cockpits, so it was a pleasure to spread out a little - heck - we even have room and the stability to set an iPad on the glare-shield, as if a three-screen Dynon SkyView EFIS wasn't enough.

My, cross-country flying in big slow airplanes has changed. Now we have all of this interesting stuff to play with - from ADS-B traffic to weather, there is no doubt what is going on in the world around you. Right about this point in the flight, we were negotiating a crossing of the Edwards AFB complex of Restricted airspace (easy on a quiet Sunday morning), and changing our flight plan from going around to the west t going straight across the hallowed ground of flight testing. It was fun to watch the "glide range" circles on the various devices - a fairly recent feature in tablet and EFIS systems. The Dynon showed a nice cycle, with the airplane off center due to winds. The Foreflight on the iPad showed a much more complex shape for the glide range, because it was taking into account terrain - but it did 't know anything about the winds, so it wasn't telling the whole story either.

Meanwhile, some traffic had just passed under us, opposite direction, 2000' below, and climbing. Must not have been talking to Joshua approach, because we never got informed of him. Didn't look like a conflict, but he was climbing - and out in this part of the world, climbing is often straight up! One of the other really nice features of ADS-B weather is the capability to go look at the METARS for your destination (and alternates if you are thinking about one). Many people think about in-cockpit weather in terms of NEXRAD - but I find I use the ability to see what's going on up ahead long before I can tune in an AWOS to be even more valuable. Today, we were getting forecasts of winds at our mountain destination that would be close to our tested cross-wind limit in the plane. But I was relaxed because they simply weren't showing up - and in fact, we had a few knots straight down the runway upon arrival. If they are going to blow a forecast, that's the way I want it to go...

Yup - lots of capability these days, droning along at 115 knots TAS. What's even more amazing is that this is a VFR machine - no IFR navigation capability at all. We've come a long way in a few short years, haven't we?

Paul Dye

Paul Dye, Kitplanes® Editor in Chief, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the space shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen, and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor, and Flight Advisor, as well as a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.

5 Replies to “Cruisin'”

  1. To Glenn - the Tundra as we configured it (IO-360 parallel Valve, Constant Speed Hartzell, Tundra Tires) will do right at 127 Knots TAS at 8,000' Density Altitude, leaned for best power. About what you'd expect for a draggy C-170/180 (ish) airplane. I don't know how the Bearhawk would do with the same engine - it is faster with a bigger one!

    To Tom - the "HUD" is the Valkyrie option for the Alpha Systems AoA. Very nicely made, it allows the display unit to be buried in the glare shield with the fold-down mirror sticking up.

  2. Seems like Paul spends all his time looking at screens instead of outside for traffic, especially with an iPad on the glare shield blocking his traffic scan.

  3. I understood that the ForeFlight "glide range" computation utilized the winds aloft forecast (including the winds below you) to determine the glide range. I suspect that might be no less accurate than using the "current altitude" wind info, and assuming that is constant all the way to the ground. In any case, it is nice having a "reality check" as to what airports are and are not reachable.

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