This past month, I had the chance to go on a long cross-country flight as part of my multi-engine add-on course. It is my last required flight course that I need in order to graduate and we fly our Diamonds (DA42) for this training. Me and my instructor decided to go up to Charleston, North Carolina on a calm Sunday.
The Diamonds are faster than our Cessnas so they allow us to cruise at much faster speeds. We could cover the distance of near 300 miles in 2 hours so when we left around 4pm, we were able to enjoy some breathtaking sights during our cruise up north.
It is always quite an experience when we get to go on these long cross-country flights. Often times, I am able to enjoy the view and have a friendly, yet professional chat with my instructor, getting to know them personally on these long journeys. We were enjoying cruising over the clouds, flying over cities like Jacksonville and Savannah. Before I realized how quickly we were cruising (about 200 knots groundspeed if you need a reference), we were starting our descent into the Charleston area.
Charleston is a cool airport as it borders an active C-17 military base as well as the Boeing factory where they build the B787 Dreamliners. As we made our landing and taxied to our ramp, I could see the line of C-17’s and B787’s parked on the other side of the airport. Me and my instructor quickly secured the aircraft, grabbed a crew car and headed to one of the most popular destinations for Charleston XC flights, Lewis Barbeque. It was perfect as my instructor and I were both getting hungry near dinner time, so we decided to fill ourselves up before heading back to Daytona.
After some good BBQ chow down, we headed back to the airport for our return leg. It was now past sunset so the cruise back was gonna be in the dark. We started up the aircraft and cruised up to an altitude that was the highest I’ve ever been at. The Diamond aircraft performance allows us to cruise at higher altitudes than a Cessna so we decided to cruise at 10,000ft in order to clear the clouds and the turbulence.
Making our way down to the cloudy Daytona Beach area, my instructor and I parked the aircraft back at our ramp around 10pm and we were able to safely complete the flight. I went home and crashed right after as it was a long flight, but it will remain as one of the most memorable moments from my flight training here. I get to experience what life as a commercial pilot is going to be like whenever I go on one of these cross-country flights. I get to work with different co-pilots (my instructor in this case) whom I may not know personally, but we still do our best to maintain a safe and professional environment in and outside the cockpit. Of course, I can’t forget about the breathtaking views during the cruises and the delicious local food at our destinations.