One of the greatest things about general aviation is the freedom it gives us. We can go anywhere we want, limited only by occasional restrictedairspace, weather, and our budget. Okay maybe it isn’t so much freedom, but dangit it still feels that way! A great use of an aircraft rental is renting a plane for a weekend getaway. You can avoid all the hassles of commercial aviation and a 2-3 hour flight can cover some serious ground even in the slowest aircraft. Renting a plane for this trip is not that different from renting it on any given day, but there are a few tips to keep in mind.
Book the plane far in advance. Weekends are obviously high demand days for any rental aircraft, so if you plan to monopolize it for 2-3 days you’ll need to book well in advance. If you belong to a large club with plenty of aircraft, you may not have to worry as much, but if you’re sharing 1-2 planes with a large group of pilots, it’s a different story. Give people plenty of notice and you’ll keep everyone happy.
Plan to fly the plane a few hours each day. Most multi-day rentals will have a stipulation in the rental agreement that you average a certain number of hours per day on your trip. This is just an average, however, so for example: Lets say you want to take a plane for 3 days and the minimum average daily use is 4 hours. If your trip is 6 hours total each way, you’ll fly 6 hours on day 1, 0 on day 2, and 6 on day 3. You would average 4 hours each day even though you didn’t fly at all on the second day. Worst case scenario you have to pay for a couple hours you don’t fly, but many clubs will waive this if there was not going to be much demand that weekend anyhow.
Don’t forget about safety. If you’re flying far outside your normal area, don’t forget to consider additional precautions you might need to take: water safety equipment if crossing a large body of water, make sure you won’t run into a mandatory 100 hour inspection while away, etc. Also consider the type of flying may be different. Are you still current on night landings? If you’re flying into mountains, are you comfortable with the hazards of that type of flying? Since you’ll need to book in advance anyhow, you can use the meantime to get current and brush up on any rusty skills you might need on your trip.
Are you prepared for inclement weather? Accident reports are filled with stories of people who had to get back home for work or other commitments and made a bad decision. Try and pad your trip with extra time so you don’t have this problem, and make sure everyone knows that they could end up grounded somewhere until conditions improve. Don’t schedule a major meeting for 9am Monday morning and plan to get back Sunday night; leave yourself a little room for the unexpected.
Most of all, have a lot of fun and come back with some good stories! What’s your favorite weekend plane trip? Share in the comments or shoot me an email and maybe I’ll make a future post about great getaways.