Category Archives: Aviation

Flying is Better than Driving

If you know me (and if you’re bothering to actually read this blog, there’s a good chance that’s true), you know I’m an aviation “enthusiast,” to put it mildly. I won’t publicly admit I’m crazy about aviation because the FAA might ground me for mental health reasons, but I’m sure you can draw your own unscientific and unproven-in-a-court-of-law conclusions. I love to fly. I love to fly because you can’t beat the views. I love to fly because it takes skill and concentration but is simultaneously exciting and relaxing. I love to fly because I can take day-trips to places it would take others a weekend to make.

When I try to share my “passion” for aviation, it’s not uncommon for me to hear responses like:

That must be fun, but flying is really expensive, right? I mean, I’ve heard aviation gas is really pricey.

I worry sometimes that folks are using the assumption of avgas price as an excuse to never consider learning to fly. Becoming a pilot, of course, is not for everyone; and yes, avgas costs more per gallon than car gas; but it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison.

To help illustrate, let’s look at the fuel and time costs for cars versus airplanes. The devil’s in the details, they say, so I’m going to use a whole bunch of averages and assumptions I pulled from some quick Google searches.

My Assumptions

Exact results will vary, of course; but to get things started, let’s list out my assumptions:

  • Traveling as a family of 4
    • 2 adults
    • 1 teenager
    • 1 less-than-6-year-old
  • Car
    • Driving at posted road speed limits for the route
    • Fuel burn is 23.6 miles per gallon (national average)
    • Gas is $3 per gallon (national average)
  • Airplane
    • Flying an average (and extremely common) Cessna 172
    • Cruising at 140 mph
    • Burns about 9 gallons per hour, so we’ll get about 15.5 miles per gallon at cruise speed
    • Avgas is $5.20 per gallon (national average)

Continue reading Flying is Better than Driving

Crash on Longlake

The road to a dormant blog is paved with good intentions. I had all sorts of opportunity over this last year to write, but something or another more important always usurped priority. Even more so, I had no shortage of topics with which to opine. There were many aviation trips, numerous adventures with my family, and a plethora of ideas to investigate. One such family adventure involved one of the shortest aviation trips we’ve ever taken and raises to mind some ideas about natural overreaction as a standard response.

This story begins, as many of my stories seem to the last couple of years, with a flight in our airplane. It was a beautiful summer afternoon, or more specifically: Saturday, June 14. (I love flight logbooks.) We didn’t have a lot of time that day, so we decided to hop in the airplane and make a very short trip from Bremerton National to Longlake, a trip so short you hardly get into a cruise configuration before you need to setup for descent. It was just an excuse to enjoy the water on a summer afternoon.

Our airplane is a boat-plane amphibian without floats, so it sits fairly low in the water. This is me in displacement taxi on Longlake:

Lake on Long Lake

We came in for a landing toward the south end of the lake, and we were down and into idle-power displacement taxi in a few seconds, having only consumed the bottom quarter of the lake surface.

Continue reading Crash on Longlake

Avoiding the Traffic

Sunday after church, my family drove directly to the airport just around the corner and loaded into our airplane. We had planned a flight up north to the Skagit Regional Airport because I thought we might be able to sneak in a preview of the Heritage Flight Museum before their official opening in a couple weeks.

Very Excited Little Girl Co-Pilot Wife Xander Happy to Fly The Pilot

We took off into completely blue skies, warm temperatures, and mostly stable air. There were a few annoying bumps along the way up, but not too bad. What made the trip up north particularly stressful was a couple different pilots who thought it would be a great idea to fly up really close to us to get a good look at our strange airplane. Continue reading Avoiding the Traffic