Recently a pilot friend invited me to fly with him to Ocean City, Maryland. He was looking for some flight time and I happened to be available. This was a rare treat.
He rented a plane and we met at the airport before sunrise. The FBO (airport office) wasn’t open so we drove off of the airport in our car to have some breakfast. Then we came back, checked on something in my hangar, got fuel and finally departed.
The good news is that instead of a four-hour drive, we reached Ocean City in 68 minutes. That left me a lot of time to play. But, my wife still had to come pick me up when we returned to our home airport. Ground transport is always a problem when flying. You have to leave a car at the airport, arrange a ride, call a cab, etc. Not so with a flying car. You have your car AND your plane with you at all times.
It was 97 degrees on our trip. We flew east and the rising sun was a killer. But like most small aircraft, ours didn’t have any air conditioning. Once in flight the air vents at our feet give some relief but if you’re not flying high enough to be in some cold air, the relief is minimal. There are usually 3 settings: slightly open, half open and fully open.
Any pilot will tell you how hot it gets when you are taxiing for 10 or 20 minutes in 80-100 degree weather – closed up tight with no air circulating. You just sweat like a pig and there’s nothing you can do about it. Not a nice way to start a flight.
Being able to open your windows or use air conditioning until right before take-off would be a game changer. With my Switchblade flying sports car, I will have both of these options for staying cool.
Good windshield wipers and cleaner would have helped also. I think we pilots get used to all the compromises we make and the creature comforts we lack in our small planes. There’s nothing worse than looking through a dirty windshield or the inconvenience of having to hand wash it when you can’t stand it anymore. My Switchblade will have windshield wipers and cleaner – just like a normal car.
On our trip we flew in just about every type of airspace there is. An autopilot to hold altitude would have been nice, but this was a rental, so no luck.
After this trip to Ocean City, I realized that I never fly in an “old fashioned” plane without finding something that the Switchblade will improve upon. Several somethings, in fact. Can’t wait to have mine!
– Parker May