"Local go/no-go decisions are easy. How can I boost my confidence when I’m debating a cross-country flight, especially one that crosses areas of differing weather or with a return several hours later?" — Cassidy M.
“The best thing you can do to increase confidence when flying away from home is to plan for staying away overnight. Weather, a mechanical issue, a fuel truck breakdown or pilot fatigue can all delay your return. The more you fly the more often you’ll face no-go decisions away from home.
When you fly cross-country, even if you intend to return the same day, take a small RON kit—for Remain Over Night. Toothbrush and shaving kit, medications if you need them, perhaps a change of clothes, and a credit card for food, lodging and ground transportation. Having these things with you puts you in the RON Mentality. It makes it easier to choose “stay” if the situation requires.
If you absolutely need to return the same day for the school play or an anniversary dinner, don’t fly in the first place. If you absolutely must be at a remote location and can’t get there except by personal airplane, get family buy-in to the possibility you might not make it back in time. Or don’t fly. Maybe you need to fly out a day early, or return early to take advantage of weather. Plan for it. Having a deadline infects you with the dreaded get-home-itis that is a factor in many aircraft accidents. External business or family stress encourages us to make bad decisions.
The planets may align and you get to destination on time, then are able to fly safely home on schedule. Great! But always plan for the possibility you’ll be stuck away from home for several hours, overnight or in extreme cases even longer. Manage your family, customer and coworker expectations ahead of time. And take along what you’ll need in case you have to remain overnight. All this will boost your confidence in flying cross-country, because you’re in the RON Mentality.”
While many pilots take day trips farther than they could return without the airplane, it seems that few are prepared to be stranded overnight. Do you bring the essentials to remain overnight when taking a long day-trip?