After Eads learned to fly, he limited himself to short cross-countries for $100 hamburgers and pattern work until a VFR cross-country from Maryland to South Carolina with a CFI opened his eyes to flights over 500 miles.
Follow along as Eads discusses his decision-making process—for good and bad decisions—along with some of the exciting flights he has made.
Eads encourages pilots to “journey into new horizons where your private pilot certificate is not a 100-mile leash bound only to perfect weather and calm winds, and where you can face weather, terrain, air traffic control, and complex decisions with confidence.”
A flight from AOPA headquarters in Maryland to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, offered Eads “some of the best lessons I’ve ever had about managing risk on long VFR cross-country flights.”
Eads encourages pilots to learn from the mistakes he has made along the way as he expands his horizons as a VFR-only pilot.
A 567-mile cross-country from Maryland to Illinois in a Cessna 172 taught Eads about decision making in marginal VFR conditions, and how a go/no-go decision might change based on the terrain in the area.
After continuing into marginal VFR conditions over the Appalachian Mountains, Eads finds himself sandwiched between lowering cloud bases and rising terrain.
If you are flying VFR for any long distance, chances are you might get weathered in. Eads explains how to build flexibility into your flight plans.
Sometimes after making a no-go decision, second-guessing follows closely behind.
“The joys of seeing the world from above and the challenges of working with (and sometimes around) Mother Nature are what makes this kind of flying exhilarating,” Eads said of VFR flying. He shares his eight favorite flying experiences.
What do you do if the weather is right on your personal minimums? Do you wait it out or go for it? The decision making to get to that answer might be more complicated than you think.
An en route radio call to flight service helped Eads clear up a case of mistaken identity in which air traffic control thought he had violated sensitive airspace that he had never gone near.
With all the complex weather, terrain, and navigation decisions involved in long VFR cross-countries, be sure not to become complacent during flights in the local area or your home airport’s pattern.
Expand your skills through several VFR-oriented training opportunities such as adding a tailwheel endorsement, a seaplane rating, aerobatic instruction, or spin training.