Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

East Coast By LSA

Twenty-five hours in a Remos GX

Being obsessed with flying ever since I could walk, I had my eyes set on becoming an airline pilot. Achieving my pilot's license in high school, and getting my instrument rating a year later, I was well on my way toward my life goal.

Still an obstacle was a commercial license and about 1,000 hours or so of flight time. I planned to build that time flight instructing. So dawned the idea of flying to Key West, a place where I'd frequently fly to on my flight simulator, and my ideal vacation of palm trees and Caribbean blue waters. A destination 1,100 nm from N.Y. would provide a hefty amount of flight time for my further licenses.

Not only was I working on building flight time for my commercial license, but I was also completing my 250 nm cross-country, along with my 150 nm day and 150 nm night cross-country requirements, all while flying in the right seat! Yes, that's right. On this trip, I was also working on getting my sport-pilot flight-instructor license (aka flight instructor with a sport-pilot rating, no commercial license required). So much to cover in one flight...but hey, in all fairness, we certainly had the time. With an average groundspeed of about 85 knots (we expected 110 knots but had headwinds), our journey would take approximately 13 hours one way to Key West.

Down to the Keys, we'd be flying the Remos GX, an all-carbon-fiber, light-sport aircraft powered by a Rotax 912 ULS engine with 95 hp. The aircraft was from the prestigious Mid Island Flight School ( fleet based out of Islip MacArthur Airport in New York.

The school owned two of these German-made aircraft, however, the one we took didn't have the luxury of two MFDs and auto-pilot that the other one had, but rather just one MFD and no autopilot. So, yes, we'd be hand flying this baby for the entire 25-hour flight. Onboard, we also had a Garmin 496 GPS, along with a Garmin 396 GPS, equipped with weather and TFRs.

Day One
The morning of, I made a run for the airport where I met Gold Seal CFI David Jensen for the journey. Friend and father of my early flight training, Dave had become my aeronautical mentor. Departing Brookhaven airport, we lined up for runway 24, and while gradually advancing the throttle to full power, we said, "Let's do it, here we go, next stop—Key West." So we lifted off into the blue, heading south from the frigid air of New York to the tropical paradise of Key West.

Fresh off solid ground, we expected our first fuel stop to be in Norfolk, Va., so we plugged it in on the GPS and followed the magical magenta line. Our first leg brought us down to Norfolk, where we made a pit stop for fuel and took off into the dusk.


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