Touring on a PPL is a fantastic way to build cross-country flight time and have a lot of fun in the process. Think of touring on a PPL like a road trip except you’re doing it in an airplane.
Length of Trip
The first thing you’ll want to determine is the length of your trip both in terms of days and distance. Do you want to tour for two days, three, a week, two weeks, a month or longer? Each trip length comes with its own increased costs for food, hotels and rental cars. Distance matters because the farther you fly, the more avgas you will burn. That also amounts to an increase in cost. So, before you depart the runway on your flying tour, determine the length of your trip both in days and distance and the amount of money you wish to spend on your trip for travel and souvenirs.
Touring on a PPL – The Aircraft
It is recommended that you fly your tour in at least a four seat aircraft. This is so that you can accommodate other guests and all your baggage on your trip. After all, touring, like road trips, is more fun when there’s more than one person joining you on the trip.
Where would you like to go? What would you like to see? Touring on a PPL is all about seeing the sights both from the air and the ground. When I went on my tour, I flew from Indiana to Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Key West and finally Jamaica before flying back to Indiana.
During my flight I got to see open expanses of land and water. I visited the dance clubs in Florida, the beach clubs in Key West and the beaches and casinos in Jamaica. I refueled in Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Key West and Jamaica. I spent a total of seven days flying and touring, and it was a blast. I got to see airports that I had never seen and experience the rich culture of the islands.
In the U.K. and Europe you might choose to fly to various airport in the U.K., Scotland, Wales and Ireland, or you might choose to fly south and visit France, Spain, Italy and even North Africa. There’s really no limit to where you can fly when you’re touring in your aircraft. All you have to do is make sure you plan enough stops and time to refuel and see the sights.
What to Pack
Once you determine the length of your trip and your stops, it’s time to pack. Remember to bring all your normal aviation gear and charts for every route and destination airport. It’s important to know all the airports you plan to land at and the airports’ radio frequencies and runways.
Remember to pack your identification and any travel papers you need such as a passport or birth certificate. The latter two are important when flying into different countries. If you plan to fly into multiple countries, make sure you are up to date on the personal documents you need in order to enter and exit the countries you wish to visit. Different countries have different requirements.
Pack enough clothes to last the entire trip and food and water for your journey. Remember, if you forget to bring food and drinks, you have to land in order to eat. Of course, I always choose to eat at the airports or in the towns I refueled at along my flight paths. Small airports, towns and local restaurants can be just as interesting as your main destinations.
Focus on Safety
The number one item to stay on top of is the weather. Get a weather briefing before you start your flight and for each leg of your trip. Periodically, get weather updates enroute as well to avoid flying into deteriorating or stormy conditions. When you land to refuel get a weather briefing. Weather can change quickly and unexpectedly. Therefore, it is important to remain up to date on the latest weather developments.
If you’re flying over water, your aircraft has to be equipped with floatation devices for the pilot and every passenger. Also make sure to brush up on the aviation regulations for overwater flights and flights into other countries.
Lastly, always know where the closest airport is to your location. This is important in case of in-flight emergencies such as power loss, engine failure or instrument loss. In the event of an emergency, turn towards the nearest airport, notify the tower or the airport on their local frequency and land.
Lastly, have fun. Touring on a PPL is a fun and fantastic experience. You’ll get to see some great scenery both in the air and on the ground, and you’ll get to visit places you’ve never been. It’s just like going on a road trip or a vacation, except you’re doing it in your own small aircraft at your own pace.