Angel Flight Command Pilot Orientation

On Saturday I flew, with two other club members, to Santa Barbara for a mass Angel Flight West command pilot orientation. I flew in Paul and Gina’s turbo-charged Mooney decked out with a great panel which they used to full effect to get through the 700ft overcast marine layer. You can see some pictures of the trip on my flickr page.

Angel Flight West is a an organisation that provides free air transportation for people with a compelling medical, or compassionate, need who need assistance to get their destination. The cost of transportation is covered entirely by the pilot flying the mission, and is a charitable donation for tax purposes. Passengers must be medically stable, ambulatory, and be able to sit up in an airplane seat for the duration of the flight. Angel Flight is not an air ambulance service, and passengers need to have alternative arrangements available in case the flight is canceled.

This year Angel Flight West expects to fly approximately 1200 missions and is in desperate need of pilots. As gas prices increase, pilots are flying less and people are being turned away – just as more people are needing their help. Other than an initial application fee, a pilot can become a Command Pilot (someone who can fly missions) by undergoing a brief orientation and document check. Most missions can be flown in a 172 or similar.

For our orientation, about 12 pilots braved IFR ceilings to get an early start at KSBA. We had a short talk from one of the wing leaders about how the organisation works, how to accept and run missions, and about the satisfaction one can get from helping someone get through a bad medical time. After that our logbooks, proof of insurance were verified, as well as a flight plan/briefing for a fictitious mission that we had been asked to prepare.

If you have access to a plane, and meet their minimum requirements (250 hrs PIC, 75 hrs cross-country), why not take a look at their website and see if you can help out.

Mobile Flight Planning

I’ll admit that I have iPhone lust but I don’t want one that badly to spend hours queuing outside some AT&T store to beg them for one. But this morning while idly looking through my RSS feeds I remembered a site that had been doing some cool things with flight planning software. So I took a look and was impressed by what they have come up with.

Foreflight Mobile 2.0 for the iPhone looks like an essential addition to the Flightbag. Using it you can totally do away with the A/FD as all the information is right on the phone. Latest weather in the form of METARS, TAFs along with radar charts are available. Since it knows where you are you can pull up the information for your airport in an instant. Elementary flight planning, and flight plan filing are also there amongst a huge list of features.

I have no connection to Jason or his company, just an impressed soon-to-be-customer of his, just as soon as I can get my hands on a shiny new iPhone. And when I do, I’ll do a full review.

In the meantime, I’m off to Angel Flight orientation on Saturday, will write about that when I get back.

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?