Trip Report - CXO-HDO

This is a follow-up to last week's post about my first gig as a ferry/delivery pilot. The job was to get to Cheraw, South Carolina and get the owner's new '65 Cherokee 180 back to Texas.

Because we had made the plans a month in advance, and because the plane had a very basic IFR setup but no current pitot/static check, I was going out there even though I was 99% certain I'd be sitting for the first day waiting for this:

to turn into something more like this: 

Indeed, the whole first day the ceilings were no better than 700 overcast, and by the time things cleared up a little it was too late to start my day of flying after being awake all day. As much as I would have loved to file IFR to get out and above that low layer, land before the front and wait for it to pass, then launch again to finish the trip, that just wasn't possible, and I wasn't about to launch to scud run for 500 miles. So I crashed in Cheraw's FBO (thanks, Town of Cheraw) and got a start first thing the next morning.

The weather had improved by then to 2400 overcast, and was forecast to be clear after Atlanta around midmorning, with severe clear the rest of the way. Off I went.

I had gotten a good radio check with the seller on his handheld the day prior, but after I called Columbia approach for flight following, it was apparent that I could transmit fine but every transmission I got was garbled and unreadable. Ok, no radio. No problem. Just steer clear of Atlanta, Austin, and San Antonio.

The first fuel stop was in Selma, AL, not the first intended stop but the forecast was probably a bit optimistic and the broken clouds that were supposed to have become scattered by midmorning were definitely still broken ahead so I found a hole and got gas a little earlier.

After Selma the skies cleared and the next fuel stop was in Alexandria, LA at what appeared to be a cool little airport/seaport combination. 3000' paved practically in the middle of a lake that serves as a seaplane base. Just outside of Alexandria's class D, Pineville had cheap gas and looked like a nice little stop. It was, and was very sleepy.

Not one to give up, I kept tuning the radio to see if something would change, and although I could hear airborne traffic just fine, I couldn't hear any ATC transmissions until Austin, for some reason (higher power ground transmitter?). That was nice, because I was really hoping to get flight following through Austin and San Antonio because I think it's really bad form just to fly over without talking to anyone. If you don't have a radio, then whatever, but I wasn't going not to try.

It was a long day but a nice trip. the air was smooth, the engine strong, and the skies clear (mostly). I got to try out my new Stratux AHRS setup on WingX and it worked brilliantly (writeup on that in a later post). I reminisced about how on earth I got from Phoenix to anywhere with just a VOR and a sectional in my Cherokee, but even a cheap little GPS puck and an old iPad are really just an indispensable technology in an airplane anymore. I don't recommend, however, making this trip in one long day.


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