We recently finished a long, long cross country that originated in Seattle, WA, and concluded in Pompano Beach, FL. Many of the decisions we faced were similar to scenarios you might see on a Private Pilot checkride. Well, except we lived them for real in our Cessna 170B.
Here’s a scenario based on a real situation we faced:
To Divert… Or Not
You are flight planned to L32, Jonesville, LA and plan to have exactly 45 minutes of fuel on landing, more than the VFR required 30 minutes.
Enroute, you take a closer look at the description for L32 and realize that there is no bathroom. Since L32 was near the range limit of your aircraft, there are only two other airports within fuel range: KHEZ and 0R2, both an additional 15 minutes away. The winds, also, have become much stronger than forecast. Using foreflight, you see the following runway descriptions:
For all three airports, they are reporting winds of 010 degrees at 20 knots, with gusts to 35.
L32 Airport barely meets your personal minimums for runway length and you are completely unfamiliar with all three airports. You have no local knowledge other than what you found in Foreflight and the AF/D. All of the airports are in the deep wilds of Louisiana.
Time is running out. You have to make a decision based on the information you have at hand. The skies are clear at all the airports and your takeoff distance will be 2,500′.
A) L32: Do you stick to the original plan with a runway in good condition (3000×75), but short and with a strong crosswind (and look for a tree to pee behind)?
B) 0R4: Do you select the airport with a slightly longer runway (3700 vs 3000), stronger crosswind, but better condition asphalt and a bathroom?
C) KHEZ: Do you select the runway in the poorest condition, farthest distance, with potholes/cracks, but wider, longer (5000’x150), and more aligned to the wind at KHEZ?
You will not have enough fuel to change your mind once you pick which airport you are going to land.
Write your answers in the comments below!