I have almost 1600 hours in our Long-Ez, N26MS, which is equipped for light IFR (or California IFR) including a full gyro panel, localizer, glide slope, Northstar loran, transponder and encoder, oxygen and a big engine. The airplane I was about to ferry across the USA was equipped with an 0235-C2C, 108 horsepower engine, a one-and-ahalf nav/comm (so called because you can comm or you can nav but you cannot do both), and a recently installed Micrologic ML6500 loran completed the avionics package. It was to be a real back-to-basics experience for me. I went over the airplane very thoroughly prior to departing and felt good about its ability to make the trip. The weather in March across the nation is not always great, but I was hoping for good VFR.
I took off from Mojave just as the edge of the sun showed on the horizon. I had some baggage and full fuel tanks so with just me in the front seat, take off weight was at 1380 lbs. She used up only 1500 feet of runway to break ground and climbed feet per minute. I climbed to 11,500 feet and set sail for Santa Fe, New Mexico, direct. This is a very rugged route, but is quite spectacular and beautiful. I passed by the San Francisco peaks at Flagstaff, Arizona in 2-1/4 hours. These mountains are very scenic, reaching to almost 13,000 feet and covered with snow. flew over the Navajo and Hopi reservations to Santa Fe, all the way with beautiful clear blue skies and unlimited visibility - and a 10 knot tail wind! The weather man had told me of a huge, fast moving, cold front coming down from Canada into the nation's midsection but I was hoping to beat it.
Alas, no such luck! As I peeked over the Rockies at Santa Fe, there was a solid undercast as far as I could see. The bad news was it was all the way to the ground. Tucumcari, NM, was zero/zero in blowing snow, as were most of the other towns along my intended route of flight. I changed my route to follow the edge of this cloud mass and found myself going almost south to Roswell, NM, then southeast to Midland, TX. From there I flew south of Dallas-Fort Worth and on over to Pine Bluff, AR, where I landed and spent the night. This was a flight of 9 hours and I used 46 gallons of fuel for an average fuel burn of 5.1 GPH. There was a flight service station at Pine Bluff but it turned out they did not open on weekends! The outlook for the morning was pretty dismal but I got a good night's rest at the local Holiday Inn.
I departed Pine Bluff at dawn in a fine drizzle with visibility down to 3 or 4 miles. I headed southeast toward Florida to get out from under the front which had overtaken me during the night. I crossed Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia in light rain, poor visibility and low ceilings. Quite a change from typical Southern California weather! I crossed South Carolina and North Carolina into Virginia. I crossed the coast at Norfolk, VA, 15 hours and 41 minutes after departing Mojave. I had failed to beat the front to the coast however, and although I tried to fly up the east coast along the beach, I only made it as far as Accomack County Airport on the Delmarva peninsular (Delaware, Maryland and Virginia).
It was raining very hard as I flew up the coast and I actually picked up a pretty good load of ice trying to make it to Salisbury, before turning back to land at Accomack Co. I spent the night in a delightful motel called The Captains Quarters good food and real friendly people. In the morning it was snowing! Ceilings were quite low but visibility was acceptable so I flew up the beach across the mouth of the Delaware, past Atlantic City where the ground was white with snow all the way to the beach! The weather improved dramatically as I flew north and was clear as I worked my way around the New York TCA.
I crossed the Long Island Sound and landed at Mattituck airport, my destination. A short airport with an approach over some 30 foot trees. A very tough proposition in a Long-EZ. I was thankful to get it down in one piece. My trip had covered some 3000 statute miles in 18-1/2 hours using 99 gallons of gas for an average fuel bum of 5.3 GPH and an average ground speed of 162 MPH. Not bad economy over 30 miles per gallon. The 1-1/2 nav/comm was a pain in the neck and I really missed my KX-155 with flip-flop frequencies.
The Micrologic loran was amazingly accurate and performed very well but it, too, is a high workload since it has no database and every waypoint must be entered as you go. This was tough at times, especially when the weather was bad, which it was for more than half the trip. must say, I did enjoy the trip overall. It is quite remarkable that a simple, built-exactly-to-the-plans Long-EZ can be such an efficient, comfortable flying machine. Sally and I will be essentially repeating this trip in June in our own Long-EZ. It will be interesting to compare the two airplanes.