Q & A - Flight for the Human Spirit - Transcontinental Flight
What is the Transcontinental Flight?
The Flight will take off from Ontario International Airport in Ontario, CA. The scheduled route distance is 1,931.5 miles which will be subject to change due to weather, fires, or other occurrences. The Flight will end at Charleston International Airport in Charleston, SC on the day after the take-off from California.
What are you flying in?
The aircraft is a REMOS GX Light Sport Aircraft. It is built in Germany and is made of carbon fiber materials. It is powered by a Rotax 912 - 100 horsepower four cylinder engine that only burns 4.5 - 5.2 gallons of fuel per hour.
How high and fast will you fly?
Our typical cruise altitude will be 9,500 ft above sea level during the Cross Country flight. When we are flying from Texas to California, and then from South Carolina back to Texas, the typical cruise altitude will be 8,500 ft above sea level. These altitudes will vary based on Air Traffic Controller requests as well as the surrounding terrain which may cause us to fly higher for various portions of the trip. The maximum air speed will be 137 mph, however if we find a tail wind, you may be able to see us traveling at higher speeds based on GPS ground tracking data.
Does your airplane have a name?
Yes, it is more commonly known around the world as "Hope One"
Who will fly with you?
My son, Daniel Routh will serve as the Flight assistant. His responsibilities will be to aid in navigation, to aid in radio communication, to communicate with our Mission Control team while we are in flight, and to document the journey with photos and video capturing.
Do you have a team helping you?
Absolutely! We have a team mostly made of family and friends who are all highly trained in their capacities of Mission Control, Communication, Media Coordination, and even helping to find us good rates on hotels and cars. Beyond that, each fuel stop will have a team who will fuel Hope One, as well as facilitate in our arrival and departure priorities. During our overnight stops we will have teams at the FBO's help us to secure Hope One in order to keep her safe.
Why are you doing this?
I love this question! For those who are new to The Flight for the Human Spirit, they don't realize how far we've flown on nothing but absolute faith and determination. The entire purpose of this flight is to inspire others to go out and follow their own dreams, no matter what they are. This Transcontinental Flight is to highlight the Sport Pilot's Certification and the durability of the REMOS. I am dedicating this flight to anyone who is seeking encouragement to know that there is greatness within each one of us.
Is it true that you have flown this same aircraft into all Fifty States?
Absolutely! Hope One is the first Light Sport Aircraft to have flown into all fifty states (yes that includes Alaska and Hawaii). By the end of Flight Day One of the Transcontinental Flight I will have officially logged over 50,000 unbelievable miles in Hope One! This beautiful aircraft also holds five world records.
Why do you have to stop for the night?
The Sport Pilot's Certificate that is issued by the FAA is a license that allows you to fly during daytime hours along with other minor restrictions. My goal is to show how versatile and practical this license truly is by setting a new World Record under its flight restrictions.
How do you set the World Record in an airplane that will only fly at 137 mph?
Great question. To set an FAI/NAA World Record in aviation you take the distance between point "A" and point "B" and divide that distance by the slowest speed that the aircraft is rated to fly. This gives you the maximum amount of time that you have to complete the record. For us, the distance is great enough that we have the time allotted for the required overnight stop and approximately three hours and fifty minutes of time after our estimated scheduled flight to allow for variances to the schedule.
It's important to note that once we take off from Ontario, CA...the clock will continue to run non-stop until we touch down in Charleston, SC. This includes the fuel stops along with the required overnight stop which will end at the moment of civil twilight on Flight Day Two.
What dangers will you face?
There certainly are a lot of dangers when flying such a long distance over a variable amount of terrain. Winds are the largest concern, but of course any adverse weather can cause deviations to the route. Without being dramatic, we fully understand that this is a highly dangerous type of flying. There will be mountains, deserts, and heavily treed regions. We will have provisions for survival after an emergency landing, and will prepare our team for what to do and how to be ready in the event of an emergency. We will be in constant contact with Regional Air Traffic Controllers with the exception of when radar contact is unavailable. They can be invaluable in the case of an emergency or to provide traffic and weather advisories.
Hope One is equipped with an emergency transmitter, a spare battery powered radio, a Spider Tracks Satellite Tracking system that updates our location every two minutes, and even a ballistic emergency parachute.
How is this Transcontinental Flight different from last year?
As you probably remember, we ended up only 91 miles short of our Wilmington, NC goal and were forced to land because of a ten mile window around us of cloud to cloud, and cloud to ground lightning. The alternate airport that we chose was Florence, SC which cleared us to land even though their runway lights were out. Our goal is to make this a much, much, much less exciting event for our fans and followers. Several adjustments have been made to the route including moving the take-off point in California to a higher field elevation and a 24 hour staffed tower; this will allow us to take-off at 5:15 AM and give us a two hour leap over last year's overall route timing. The route also takes us into an area of potentially less thunderstorms by moving a little further south. It also helps us to eliminate the busy Atlanta airspace from our concerns. By incorporating LaGrange-Callaway Airport in Georgia into our route and eliminating Birmingham, Alabama we are able to completely eliminate a fuel stop on Flight Day Two (from four stops to three) which yields a minimum gain of 32 minutes off of the flight time in our day.
Where is your overnight stop going to be?
US Aviation is our home base and ironically will serve as the overnight stop on Flight Day #1. This is actually not pre-planned into the route, but is how the numbers have worked out for this flight. If this were not our home base, Denton would still be a fuel stop, and would still be the goal for the day. As you remember, we did not make this goal last year, and had to stop in Abilene, TX but with the adjustments to our route we hope to reach this aggressive goal which will put us in a perfect position for accomplishing the World Record as planned.
Why are you flying during the hot summer months when the weather is less predictable?
I would absolutely love to do this Coast to Coast flight in October or even February. However, the amount of available daylight hours in the day is more critical to our success than even weather. We'll take off from Ontario at 5:15 AM which is the moment of civil twilight and touch down in Denton on Flight Day One at approximately 8:30 PM. We just don't have the luxury of those long daylight hours at any other time of the year. That is why you see The Flight attempt happening on or around June 21st.
Why don't you fly East Coast to West Coast in order to take advantage of Time Zones?
After many, many hours and miles flown in Hope One I have determined through data collected that our best plan is to fly "with" the winds rather than against the winds. At 9,500 ft, the winds are typically stronger than they are on the ground. A strong head wind can cause an extra hour of flight per fuel stop and add more time to the flight day. This would absolutely increase the number of necessary fuel stops on an East Coast to West Coast journey. The winds will generally flow from West to East or from South to North along our flight route. However we may still encounter head winds from the east (such as last year in Eastern Arizona through Central Texas). If they are forecast to be too high, then The Flight will be delayed until more favorable conditions prevail.
Why does The Flight get delayed so much?
I can answer that question for one reason that had caused 99% of our delays on the Fifty State Mission: Weather. The weather is a huge consideration in an 800 pound aircraft. Although Hope One is very stable in the sky, safety is always a priority to our flights. I personally also fly within my minimum conditions such as cloud ceilings, and cross winds. I have always been an advocate of putting the goal out there with a specific date, and adjust as conditions allow...this has been a successful strategy that is found in all of my projects.
If you don't make the World Record this year, will you try it again?
Yes. It is not easy, and there is a lot of coordinating, but we have a lot of people who want to share in this event. My goal once again is to highlight the Human Spirit that each of us have within us. One thing is for certain...The Human Spirit never quits!
How can I follow The Flight?
We are very well known for using social media as a means to allow you to follow The Flight for the Human Spirit in a number of ways. The best tool available for you is: wwwFlightHS.com This web site will provide live Satellite tracking every two minutes of flight as well as all available updates. If the website servers get crowded, then follow "Official Flight for the Human Spirit Fan Page" on Facebook or @CombsCoach on Twitter. If you just want the basics without photos and comments, then subscribe to @FHSMissionCtrl on Twitter which will provide updates directly from our Mission Control team.
The Flight Days are very dependent on the weather from Coast to Coast, so be sure to follow us closely in order to stay informed.
Can I come to see Hope One and meet you in person?
If you are near the scheduled fuel stops, then please stop by to cheer us on and offer support. Please note, on World Record Flight Days we will be very limited in time and won't be able to talk. Our stops are limited to a maximum of 22 minutes from time of touchdown. However, on each of the stops we will be visiting either before or after The Flight. Any airport fuel stop WEST of Denton, TX will be visited PRIOR to The Flight; and any fuel stops EAST of Denton, TX will be visited AFTER the World Record Flight. All updates will be posted on our social media sites mentioned above. If you come out during these non-timed fuel stops you will be able to take close-up pictures and see inside of Hope One as well as receive autographed postcards. Either way,, we always love to see and meet those people that this project has impacted.
What are your fuel stops?
We have a total of eight airports Coast to Coast
KONT - Ontario International
KCHD - Chandler Municipal
KELP - El Paso International
KMAF - Midland International
KDTO - Denton Municipal
KGLH - Mid Delta Regional
KLGC - LaGrange-Callaway
KCHS - Charleston AFB/International
I know that you are a Grass Roots Project, how can I support you?
Thank-you for asking. Yes, with the exception of REMOS, we aren't operating with large sponsorships. Someday, I know that we will have a corporate or business sponsor step up and participate in our encouraging messages of Hope for mankind, but for now we are using primarily our own funds and always welcome interested parties to purchase merchandise including books and CDs. One of the best and most enduring ways for you to support The Flight for the Human Spirit and have something to pass down to your children is to have your name put into The Hope One Notebook. Your name will fly onboard Hope One and stay in her cargo hold after she becomes a museum piece. The Hope One Notebook can be found on our website.
Isn't this flight going to become a book?
Yes, all of the events leading up to this historic Coast to Coast flight including the adventure from last year will all be included in the content of the book entitled "91 Miles Short" It will encompass the adventure associated with flying a small aircraft Coast to Coast as well as those who helped along the way. It is scheduled to be released in 2014.
I get this question all of the time which I consider to be the highest honor. Next will be other World Record Point to Point flights in Hope One. If you would like us to set a record from your area...please let me know, and we'll consider it. I am still planning a Coast to Coast bicycle ride, but have needed to make sure that my training coincides with my schedule and book releases. If this flight goes as planned, I will strive to make the ride happen in the Spring of 2014. Also, we are planning World Record flights to the Caribbean and have been invited to fly Hope One in Australia, Europe, India, and even Asia.
Likewise, I have a number of books in the pipeline along with a music album that will be released this fall. My philosophy is simple: "Life is precious, don't ever waste even a day without benefiting someone else by your existence."