End of the long cross country?

With gas prices rising, and with it the cost of plane rentals, I wonder if the long cross country trip will soon be (is already?) out of the reach of most hobbiest pilots.

For this July 4 weekend, Teri and I were thinking about a trip to Pine Top, AZ. which would mean a flight to Show Low Regional. AOPA’s flight planner estimates about 5.5 hrs for the roundtrip from San Diego in a 172 RG. The field is as 6500 feet and density altitudes are in the 8k+ range so I’d want the extra power of the RG.

In reality, the flight would be San Diego to the home base of Brawley, and then on to Show Low, same on return so we’re probably talking more like 7 hrs total time on the Hobbs. The RG I like rents at $125 an hour so that makes a cost of $850-900.

No one has ever said flying was inexpensive but Show Low is only 500 miles or so away and a trip up near a $1000 to get to such a place is just too much for my pocket, and I’m sure many others. I’ve always wanted to take a flight across multiple states but there’s no way I can ever justify spending the kind of money that would take.

And as gas keeps rising, I wonder how many of us will soon be able to do much more than fly over the city once a month?