In August, I began training for my private pilot’s certificate. The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight time, in addition to various other requirements: a check ride with an FAA approved examiner, a class 3 medical certificate, and passing a written examination.
In October my law firm purchased a Cherokee 140 – a 150 hp single engine airplane – to help me complete training and to help the firm do business and conduct its work. North Carolina is a great place to learn how to fly a plane, and a great place to own and fly an airplane for a couple of reasons.
First, there are a lot of small, general aviation airports. I fly out of Raleigh Durham Airport where my plane is located. But a lot of counties in North Carolina have local airports. While it doesn’t make much practical sense to drive out to RDU to complete the 20 minute flight to Smithfield (JNX), it does make a lot of sense to drive out to RDU to make a flight down to the coast for court.
For instance, Google says that a drive from Raleigh to New Bern takes about two hours. A flight in the Cherokee 140 from KRDU to KEWN (New Bern’s local airport) takes 45 minutes, not including time to inspect the plane and taxi. If things go smoothly, you could shave roughly an hour off your trip each way by flying a small plane rather than driving to New Bern.
Flying to Elizabeth City is even more efficient. A drive takes two and a half hours, whereas a flight would take about an hour.
Going west? Driving to Charlotte from Raleigh will take two and a half hours. In the Cherokee 140 to Concord Regional Airport (KJQF)? An hour and a quarter.
Because North Carolina is so wide, and because direct routes to various cities by car or train are not always very direct, flying can be a much more efficient way to proceed. When you get into the mountains, a drive from Raleigh becomes even more time consuming: nearly 4 hours to Asheville by car. Something short of two hours by plane.
Of course, as I learned this weekend, Asheville different weather patterns and mountains! That can make flying in a little more treacherous.
I’ve already started putting the plane to practical use to help the law firm. In the coming months, as I get my certificate and begin using it to conduct business, I think it’ll help us out tremendously.