Leg #9 KCXO-KTYS (01/12/2022)
Since we were a little further to the northeast but still not in range of my final stop in Washington D.C., we decided to stop at the East Coast home of Cirrus because it was on the way and just felt appropriate for the journey. The flight was completely normal for once. An easy departure and a VFR clearance through the bravo were followed by VFR direct all the way to Knoxville. We flew through a couple of hot MOAs near Columbus Air Force Base, and we were hoping to catch a glimpse of some fighters or something cool, but nothing ever came in visual range. The approach into Knoxville was a little hectic with a lot of traffic and some annoying delay vectors, but we got in. The turn at Tac Air was quick, but the gas was the most overpriced of the entire trip. It was great getting to spot a lot of unique looking SF50s and SRs on the ground though.
Leg #10 KTYS-KGAI (01/12/2022)
It was a perfect night for flying. Flying over the moonlit wilderness of West Virginia was the perfect way to end what had certainly been the adventure of my lifetime. The winds were calm in Gaithersburg so I elected for the RNAV-14 to help me find what I knew would be a difficult to distinguish runway. The only real kicker of this leg was that when I got to my car, I quickly discovered that the battery was completely dead. Even with the help of an instructor and student who landed behind us and some jumper cables I found in the bed of an operations truck, we could not get it started. Ultimately, we just gave up and settled on an Uber after trying everything we could think of for about an hour in the freezing cold parking lot.
Leg #11 KGAI-KHVN (01/13/2022)
This was the only leg of the journey I did not make and was not PIC for. My parents had a very uneventful flight back to our home base in New Haven, Connecticut. After a total of 34.3 total hours of Hobbs time, I was back at school and my parents, the dog, and the plane were all back home.
Would I do this again? Hell yeah! Tomorrow if I could. But then again, I was not paying for the gas and I did not have to sit in the back with the dog for thirty plus hours. In reality, as I reflected in the following days with my parents over the phone on the continent crossing journey we had just accomplished, I got them both to admit that they could not wait to see where I convinced them to fly next year. They were pretty insistent on that year-long hiatus though. Personally, I walked away with a closer bond to my family, a deeper love of flying, lessons learned, unforgettable memories, the same mediocre Spanish skills I started with, and a hugely increased appreciation for just how fortunate I am to be flying in the first place.