Real World Coast to Coast

Real World Coast to Coast

Experience long-range VFR and IFR flying like never before. Take the left seat on this journey from New Jersey to Southern California that both teaches and inspires.

We are happy to share this course with fellow pilots, while many of us can’t fly as much as we want. 

Watch This Introduction

Mark Robidoux and Keith Smith discuss the program.

“Real World” – Experience Is The Best Teacher

The goal of Real World Coast to Coast is to place you in the left seat and let you experience every aspect of these challenging cross-country flights first-hand, from the pilot’s perspective.

Follow Keith Smith (bio below) through a series of cross-country flights that are captured on HD video cameras. You’ll also watch him plan each flight with a detailed briefing (using ForeFlight) and then debrief after landing.

As you fly along, Keith talks you through each task and procedure as he completes it. You’ll hear all of his ATC interactions so you’ll know the proper phraseology to use on both IFR and VFR flights. There are no shortcuts! You follow the flights in near real time from engine start to engine shutdown.

Sample: High Altitude Mountain Crossing

The view over Keith’s shoulder reveals terrific insights. You see exactly what he sees and hear exactly what he hears. Watching Keith sweat it out on these flights gives you a window into procedures, techniques, ATC interactions and critical decision-making you can’t get any other way.

You’ll find yourself glued to the screen as the scenarios unfold, trying to anticipate what will happen next. Keith makes mistakes and not every flight goes as planned—because it’s real, unscripted flying! That’s what makes this program unique.

Learn from Keith’s Experience

Fly along on this epic, coast-to-coast adventure. 35 videos cover it all.

  • A series of challenging IFR and VFR flights
  • Long-range, cross-country flight planning
  • ATC Communications – IFR and VFR
  • A variety of reroutes and diversions
  • High-altitude mountain crossings
  • Radio communication problems in IMC
  • IFR legs through complex NY and LA airspace
  • VFR over the Grand Canyon at dusk
  • A high-density-altitude landing and departure
  • Fun at LAX: STAR in, SID out (and a flat tire)
  • Heavy use of ForeFlight, Stratus and ADS-B
  • Turbulence from winds, mountains, and heavy rain
  • Various “special flight rules area” transitions
  • Fatigue, hunger, stress, and potential hypoxia
  • Breathtaking scenery across the USA
  • And much more!

Meet Keith – The Guy You’ll Be Flying With

The Real World Coast to Coast program was developed by the PilotWorkshops team and led by Keith Smith. Keith is a highly accomplished instrument pilot and founder and developer of PilotEdge, the award-winning network that provides real (human) ATC interactions for pilots flying and training on flight simulators.

Keith also starred in our previous Real World programs (Real World IFR and Real World VFR), so we brought him back and gave him a new set of flying challenges—this time on a flight from his home in New Jersey to Southern California.

In addition to creating the PilotEdge network, Keith has personally logged more than 9,000 hours on his network providing virtual ATC services to pilots across thousands of simulated instrument flights. It’s fair to say that Keith’s passion for all things ATC borders on an obsession.

With such a passion for ATC interaction and years of working the other side of the picture on the virtual scopes, Keith provides a focus on radio interactions and airspace awareness not usually seen in the piston General Aviation world.

Keith with his Lancair 360

Keith flys his Lancair 360 in the Real World Coast to Coast flight videos. He has logged over 800 hours in this airplane and routinely flies it for long-range travel in a wide range of weather conditions at airports ranging from 1,800 ft non-towered strips to JFK, LAX, Atlanta Hartsfield, DFW and everything in between.

Keith is not an instructor, instead, he gives you the perspective of a highly accomplished pilot flying in the system. His focus is on managing these challenging flights from a PIC perspective (single-pilot) in the left seat rather than providing flight instruction from the right seat. This further enhances the “Real-World” feel of these videos.

View from Keith’s cockpit

You’ll See It All: Briefings, Flights, and Debriefs

Keith walks you through every detail of his flight planning in ForeFlight.

If you’ve wanted to use your airplane for long-range business or personal travel but lack the experience, this program gives you the confidence needed to take your flying to the next level.

Briefings: Keith conducts a detailed briefing before every flight—and we caught them all on camera, including a complete screen-capture of his iPad running ForeFlight! This is one of the most instructional aspects of the entire program.

Watch him brief all critical aspects of the flights—the weather, route, winds, NOTAMS, airports, airspace and more. By watching him brief this many consecutive flights, you’ll learn to look at an overall flight and quickly drill into the areas that require a more detailed investigation. This kind of briefing efficiency will help you feel comfortable tackling longer trips.

See and hear everything Keith does.

Flights: The flights were recorded in real-time using two HD video cameras mounted on Keith’s head and chest to show his view outside and on the instruments. We also captured his iPad throughout the entire flight so you can see what Keith is seeing in ForeFlight, in the air.

This gives you the ultimate “first-person” feel as you are riding along with him, hearing all of his ATC communications as well as his commentary on what’s happening throughout the flight. Having only two cameras allowed Keith to make the trip alone, without a camera crew…adding to the real-world feel.

Debriefs: Keith debriefs every flight on camera, providing a self-assessment of his performance and an occasional confessional when things don’t go as planned. These debriefs are shot immediately after the flights—at the airport, FBO, hotel room or on the ramp. This is a great way for Keith to recap the critical teaching points and lessons learned on each flight.

Sample Debrief Video

Trip Details and Flight Information

Now Included: Bonus Flight Videos

Keith kept the cameras rolling when returning from California after shooting the original Real World Coast-to-Coast program.

Turns out some of the best stuff happened on the return flight, so we decided to add all of these videos to the program. In total, we added over 15 hours of new briefings, debriefs and flights.

The bonus flights are raw video, with very little editing. This gives them a different real-world feel that compliments the videos from the original trip nicely.

Real World Coast to Coast Q&A

Q: How do I access the Real World Coast to Coast videos?
A: Your videos are available online via a secure, password-protected website. You can watch the videos on any device—Windows PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android. The website has a simple menu structure so you can easily find the segment you want to watch and start it with the click of a button.

Q: Will my online access ever expire?
A: No. Once you register your login credentials, they will never expire. You will always have access to the program.

Q: Can I access the videos from more than one computer or device?
A: Yes. With your login info, you can access the site from any device as often as you want for personal use.

“I have been a fan of pilotworkshops offerings for several years but recently I purchased the coast to coast program. I am a 600 hour IFR pilot and I must say that this is the gold at the end of the rainbow for my needs. I completely needed exactly what this program offers. I so often wanted to follow other pilots from start to finish on trips like this, and now I can!"

Edward J. Chattanooga, Tennessee

Register for Free Access

On the next screen you’ll either create a password, or log in if you already have a PilotWorkshops account, and you’ll get instant access to the entire program.

We’ll also email you the Pilot’s Tip of the Week. We respect your privacy and do not share your information.

WINGS Approved!

You can earn 6 WINGS credits for completing Real World Coast to Coast: 2 basic, 2 advanced and 2 master. A simple online form for requesting credit is included on the website.

AOPA Premier Partner

PilotWorkshops is proud to support AOPA and its membership in their mission of advancing the growth and safety of general aviation. Your support helps.