If you were driving on vacation to a new resort you wouldn’t just pack the car and start driving in the general direction of the resort. Instead, you would take a good look at the map, determine the best path, select some stopping points for food and fuel, and probably estimate the length of the trip in miles and time. That’s exactly what you’re going to do to plan your first solo cross-country trip.
Unlike driving, flying means you won’t find fuel stations at every other corner. In fact, not all airports sell fuel. You need to plan a little more carefully so you don’t run out of fuel along the way. Also unlike driving, flying does mean you can go from here to there in a relatively straight line. You don’t have roads to follow; you can create your own path. And, for private pilots who don’t fly in congested airspace, you don’t have to worry about traffic jams, either. They’re all below you.
Flight planning is important. For a successful cross-country flight you’ll first need to answer a few important questions:
- Where are you going?
- How will you get there?
- When will you get there?
- What about problems (weather, etc.)?