Take A Flying Vacation
The Brainteaser Fantasy Vacation survey results are in, and the Jake Hollow barnstorming wanderlust is alive and flying. (Fictional barnstormer from Bootleg Skies. He never seemed to have a destination in mind but always managed to get lost.) AVweb Brainteaser Quiz #171 asked for reader input on the perfect aviation vacation. Where would you go and in what aircraft? The Brainteaser fantasy comptroller is picking up the fantasy tab, allowing all the Walter Mittys out there to let their imaginations roam. There were too many responses to list, so what follows is a highly unscientific sampling. Submitters' names have been stripped to prevent nay-sayers from popping our dreams.
The suggestions were varied, with destinations ranging from Alaska to New Zealand, although one reader specified that her New Zealand fantasy involved a commercial airline flight, seated in first class, sipping single-malt. Another was more specific and saw himself flying New Zealand's "North and South Islands ... in something slow, open and with big tires. A Stearman comes to mind." Stearmans often come to mind when a sentence includes the word "slow."
Another reader cast some of us Garden State expats off guard by selecting "somewhere in New Jersey" for the perfect aerial retreat. Chris Christie a pilot? Who knew? But, hey, I took my first airplane ride in July 1967 in New Jersey. Can't say that the cargo end of a C-130 Hercules out of McGuire AFB was a pleasure cruise, especially after leaving my lunch on the floorboards before the gear came up. That one flight delayed my aviation career, but if your dream vacation is in the milky suburban skies, go for it. May I suggest a J3 Cub into Aeroflex Andover (12N) or Greenwood Lake (4N1) instead of McGuire?
Many respondents longed to escape to Alaska or Canada, usually in something equipped with floats. Doing so in a de Havilland Beaver, Cessna 180 or Cessna Caravan (the pre-Chinese models) popped up several times in the tally. But lest you think only hairy-legged bush planes were requested for the Alaska trips, there were two Cirrus owners ready to tour the north in comfort, one in a turbo-normalized Cirrus SR22-G3. The seemingly dainty landing gear appears inappropriate for sand bars and glaciers, and no mention was made of floats. But when your airplane packs a parachute, who needs floats or tundra tires? The turbo fantasy Cirrus journey would begin in western Pennsylvania, head out across Montana and Idaho, before turning north. After that, this pilot said, "I would probably just keep on flying." That's the spirit.
Speaking of glaciers, one of you out there wants to "learn glacier flying in Sweden or Switzerland." Don't wait too long for that fantasy, because they're melting fast.
One reader's demand was simple, requesting only "any remote river (in) my own airplane." Gotta admire that Zen approach. Another longed to tour Alaska and the Canadian Northwest in "anything PT6-powered (turboprop)." Both doable on this fantasy budget.
Wyoming, Utah and West Colorado drew in readers who pictured themselves flying the high country in brand-new Aviat Huskies. I'd even settle for a used Husky. One scoffed at the Husky option, preferring, instead, "to go to back-country airstrips in Idaho in my Cessna 140A."
Many readers couldn't quite nail down the best getaway location, as expressed by this sentiment: "I'm not exactly sure where it is yet, but I'm headin' out to the most remote back-country strip, furthest away from the FAA -- as well as people -- that I can get in a F4U Corsair ..." [The Brainteaser author considers FAA personnel to be people. Well, mostly ...] Don't stand in the way of that pilot's search for Ailerona.
Two pilots chose an old-fashioned vacation, which includes loading up the family Stinson Station Wagon. One wanted to "circumnavigate the lower 48 with my two kids" for three months using his grandfather's Stinson. The other Stinson flyer planned to pack the wagon with camping gear, provisions and "my honey" for a trip from lower New England, cruise up to Maine and then "west along the St. Lawrence River, the Fingers Lakes in New York, down through the Virginias (regular and West), southwest through the Ozarks, up to Arrowhead, Minn., Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP), through Ohio, Pennsylvania and home again." No mention in this fantasy if "my honey" makes it the whole way.
Inspire by aviation firsts, one flyer planned to retrace Douglas "Wrongway" Corrigan's 1938 flight to Ireland. The original flight was to have been from New York to California, but Corrigan's Curtiss Robin "accidentally" headed east instead.
World flight was on several pilots' minds, with one circumnavigator launching in a single-engine turboprop TBM 850 to "fly around the world in 100 days, east to west and then west to east." Wanna bet we could do it in 80?
Another globetrotter was headed 'round the world in a Quest Kodiak without any mention of route or schedules. Many envisioned flights outlining entire continents -- Central and South America were popular routes; a trip to Machu Picchu in a Lockheed Connie really looked fun -- or flying the entire east or west coasts of the U.S. Two coastal airports received honorable mentions. On the East Coast, a reader suggested Falmouth Airpark (5B6) on Cape Cod. He claims to have once washed airplanes there and wants to know if anyone remembers where he left his sneakers in 1984. West Coast suggestions include Half Moon Bay (KHAF) and Watsonville (KWVI), Calif. My personal suggestion is Seaside Municipal Airport (56S) along the northwest Oregon coast south of Astoria. Be ready for fog when operating into any of those coastal stops.
One pilot limited a California vacation to flying the coast from San Francisco north to Oregon. Apparently there were some outstanding warrants preventing a border crossing.
Six travelers were headed to Oshkosh, although two of those didn't say if their trips were in conjunction with the EAAfest or the lure of east-central Wisconsin in summer is just too much to pass up. "You come for the heat but stay for the humidity."
Also tough to pass up, according to some, are flying vacations that highlight stops at the Truman and Eisenhower Libraries. "Hey, you kids, put down those iPods, and pay attention to the Bess Truman tour guide!" Bet they'll wish they'd also stopped in West Branch, Iowa, for a week's stay at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum, Library and Waterslide! After one day, it might seem like a week, and no, Hoover did not cause the Great Depression. And, yes, Herb's wife, Lou (it's not a gay marriage thing; that was her real name -- Lou Henry Hoover) was the first female geology student at Stanford University, and she was instrumental in the creation of the Girl Scout cookie. (Be sure to visit the gift shop; nothing like a Hoover Bobblehead(tm) atop your glare shield.)
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, but we didn't receive any balloon or glider vacation itineraries -- although one pilot wanted to tour in a U2 -- and only one involved a helicopter, and that pilot said the trip was only possible after winning the lottery. This being a fantasy, we sent him a fake winning ticket, so he's now on his way home to Boston after picking up his new Robinson R44 from the Torrance, Calif., factory. Look, when you get to dream, don't dream up the obstacles, just fly.
No one voted for vacationing in a Cessna Skysnatcher.
The majority of aviation fantasy vacation destinations were islands: Australia, Greek isles (bring gold), Hawaiian Islands, Tahiti (in a DC-3, very classy), Fiji, The Bahamas, every island possible in the Caribbean and a few that would seem impossible. There was even a suggestion for "Ekel, a small island in the Baltic Sea near Denmark; 150 inhabitants and a small, grass strip, where you are allowed to camp under the wings of your airplane."
If you want to camp under a wing while staring up at the stars and listening to the soulful guitar twangs of aviation's famed CAF troubadour, Doug Rozendaal, then plan a vacation flight to Antique Airfield (IA27) in Blakesburg, Iowa, over Labor Day weekend, where dreamers from all over the world camp beneath hundreds of real ragwings. Best part -- other than the lack of FAA or TSA on the private field -- it ain't no fantasy.