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A long cross-country provides a good analysis of the Murphy Aircraft Rebel Elite.
The need for a chariot to carry me to and from Lakeland, Florida's big spring fly-in where I could evaluate aircraft for upcoming articles prompted me to contact Murphy Aircraft in nearby Chilliwack, British Columbia. The company graciously provided me with a Rebel Elite powered by a Lycoming 180 driving a fixedpitch prop and, of course, a GPS.
Then all I had to do was plan the trip and get there quickly as the aircraft was the new prototype with the 25 hours of restricted flight test time just completed; the pilot's seat was still warm. To ease the "workload" (because trips to new destinations generally take more time to plan than to fly), I found two friends who needed to hone their pilotage skills after years of inactivity (if building an aircraft is inactivity), and each flew one segment of the trip between Victoria, British Columbia (north of Seattle) and Lakeland.
Both pilots were delighted to invest in a one-way airline ticket as they would have the opportunity to accomplish many firsts. These included taildragger operations, international flying, major fly-in attendance, familiarization with GPS, and flight-following procedures.
Planning the Route
A straight line between destinations always looks best to me for initial consideration. However, if you really want the shortest distance, that straight line should be measured on a curved globe to obtain the great circle route. Using the GPS will also give you the distance and heading information; but the heading you fly on a direct route will actually change somewhat over a long trip.
Next, the research begins as airport/facilities directories are checked for fuel availability, FBO hours of operation, nearby hotels (with free pickup), restaurant facilities on the field, and courtesy cars. All of the above are weighed to determine the most desirable stopping points. Don't be surprised if winds or other forms of weather change your routing from day to day, necessitating additional flight planning.
On most trips, I like to study the current and forecast frontal data to plan a departure time that will provide preferential winds. Going southeast toward Florida, I look for an approaching high pressure center and set out with the intent of catching up to the back end of a low for the night. This generally produces tailwinds. And while I sleep, the good weather is pushing the low farther along my route. Because winds circulate clockwise around highs and counterclockwise around lows in this hemisphere, we can plan to maximize tailwinds or minimize headwinds by carefully timing and planning the route. Often, postponing a flight for a day or so can result in improved flight conditions in terms of significant weather and wind.