Trip Overview

On Saturday, September 18th, I plan to takeoff from Gettysburg Airport (W05) in Bald Eagle (BE), my 1946 Aeronca 7AC "Champ"/L-16A on a round trip to the west coast.  The ultimate objective is to participate in the invitation-only "Flight Test Nation Lakebed Fly-in" on the historic Rosamond Dry Lakebed at Edwards AFB, CA on October 1st.  This is the first time the Air Force has ever hosted such an event and it's a rare and unique opportunity for general aviation planes to land on the lakebed.  Bald Eagle will be on display as part of the Warbird contingent during the fly-in that is also expected to include several thousand drive-in attendees.  Along the way, we (me and BE) hope to add up to 23 states to the list of 19 where we have already landed  together. 

The initial part of the trip will be to Panama City, FL to attend PHANCON 2010, the annual gathering of the F-4Phantom II Society.  This event starts on Sep. 20th and concludes on the evening of Sep. 23rd.  It is focused around the QF-4 (drone) operations at Tyndall AFB - the last remaining Phantoms in the US inventory.  We'll also spend a day with the Navy in Pensacola, including a visit to the Naval Aviation Museum.

On Sep. 24th, we're planning to depart Panama City heading west, with some detours from a direct route to Edwards to enable landing in several other states.  After making stops in the south central states, we plan to take a "southern route" over the Continental Divide northwest of Albuquerque, NM and into southern Utah and then via Las Vegas to Edwards AFB in the high desert of Southern California.

We have an assigned landing time of 0910 at EDW on Oct. 1st.  The fly-in will feature a pancake breakfast, a briefing from the Air Force Flight Test Center commander on the mission and current programs, a detailed explanation of the R-2508 airspace surrounding the base, techniques on navigating the airspace and avoiding traffic conflicts, a presentation on women in the flight test community, and even a visit from Pancho Barnes herself during a catered lunch.  Military aircraft are expected to be on display, and there is also the possibility of a military aerial demonstration.  Departure will be in the late afternoon and we plan to RON at a nearby airport before continuing the trip.

 From Edwards, we'll head north to WA and then try to find an acceptable weather passage eastward over the Rockies before zigzagging toward PA while continuing to "bag" new states.  Overall, the trip encompasses almost 6,400 miles and will take about 80 hours of flight time.  Hopefully, we'll be back in PA around the 10th of October.  

Charlie Tipton