Stearman and FltPlan.com – a Perfect Match
My friend Jack Pelton, recently retired as chairman, president and CEO of Cessna, bought a Stearman that was based in the Boston area. Jack lives in Wichita. The mission was to ferry the old biplane trainer back to his home base on, of all places, Stearman Field that is on the northeast side of Wichita.
Jack has been a dedicated user of FltPlan.com for years and when I saw him last weekend before the big trip he had already used the aircraft profile section of FltPlan.com to enter the cruise, fuel flow and other data for the Stearman. I bet there aren’t many airplane profiles in FltPlan.com with 75 knot cruise speeds, or was that 75 mph?
But Jack wasn’t sure how he could use FltPlan.com to find potential fuel stops for such a slow airplane with such short legs. The answer, of course, is the “Quick Info” button at the top of the list of options on the left side of the FltPlan.com main menu page.
One of the many extremely useful features of Quick Info is fuel stop planning. To start a Quick Info briefing you enter your departure and ultimate destination. You see direct distance between the points, and the worst, best and average winds along the route for the date you are planning. If the flight is close, you also see forecast winds in addition to the historic winds.
Further down the Quick Info page is the intermediate fuel stop planning function. You select how long you want to fly to a fuel stop. FltPlan.com has used the most accurate available winds—either historic or current forecast—to convert flying time into distance. Select how long you want to fly, hit the “check for fuel stops button” and up pops a list of suitable airports located approximately that distance into your trip.
The airport information for each potential fuel stop is complete with all of the details of runways, ATC information and so on. And if the FBOs on the field have entered the data, you can see fuel prices, too. These days the fuel price is an extremely important criteria for any pilot selecting a fuel stop so please, any FBO operator, keep your fuel prices up to date on FltPlan.com.
If you’re wondering, it took Jack 16 flying hours over a route of 1,273.3 nm to get the Stearman from Plymouth, Mass., to Stearman Field in Wichita. Total fuel burn was 181 gallons and eight quarts of oil went through the Continental radial engine. The trip required six legs over two days, all VFR, of course. Jack told me it was a “once in a lifetime experience.” I think once would be enough for me, too.