Home > Flying, Flying to Sun 'n Fun > Flying to Sun ‘n Fun (1)

Flying to Sun ‘n Fun (1)


Well, I have been a bit remiss in getting my Lakeland Sun-n-Fun trip up so please forgive me for being a bit late. I still wanted to share with you my experiences flying to Sun-n-Fun.

The trip by far is the longest cross-country trip I have taken. I brought along Anson Gray, one of my sales guys and an accomplished pilot and CFII to make it a learning experience and to try and get some instrument training in. I had just completed instrument ground school so I was excited about that part. The weather for the trip over was forecast to be clear and VMC all of the way to Lakeland. The trip was planned for two days with arrival in Lakeland in the afternoon the second day. Our path of travel brought us to Sheppard Air Force base (KSPS, Wichita Falls, TX) for a fuel and food stop then on to Monroe, LA (KMLU) for an overnight. From that point we proceeded to Albany, GA (KABY) for fuel and then direct to Lakeland.

This would also be the first chance for me to experience the use of the Aspen System in a cross country flight in both VFR and simulated IFR so I was not only excited about the flight but also for the chance to put the system through its paces.

We departed Double Eagle airport (KAEG) early Saturday morning. The departure from KAEG was uneventful and all we really needed to be aware of is to get enough altitude to cross the Sandia Mountains. My DA40 climbed very nicely at a 600+FPM rate in spite of the altitude–KAEG is at 5800 ft and the Sandias where we crossed was around 8700ft. We easily got high enough above the Albuquerque class C and Sandias. We climbed to 11,500 and maintained that altitude on our way to Sheppard.

The weather was clear and we had a pretty good tailwind and things were quiet and smooth. During this part of the flight I primarily used the Aspen info pages to look forward on the flight to review weather etc. Nothing much was out there so the flight to Sheppard was uneventful. As we neared the airport we used the KLN94 OBS function to help line up on the runway. The display of the OBS on the Aspen MFD is not available with version 2.1 software on the Aspen, and I found myself really wanting that function (version 2.2 was released during the show so I would have that on the way back, more on that later).

The Sheppard tower is closed on the weekends so we basically were entering a non-controlled airfield. All in all not a big deal, but since Sheppard also has commercial traffic it was rather odd to be in the pattern with an ATR42! The runway at Sheppard is huge (13,101 ft long and 300 ft wide) and when I touched down my airplane was barely a speck of dust on the massive concrete.

Next up: a little IFR practice on the way to Monroe…

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