The challenge of flying a general aviation airplane to all the state capitals in the lower 48, plus Alaska, in just two weeks is one that most private pilots would never accept. It is however, the flight plan for an inspiring journey being attempted by two veteran pilots to raise public awareness about smaller, municipal airports that are an important business asset for cities and can be a gateway for bringing new tourism traffic into the area.
Called the Capital Air Tour, the flight will be flown by Field Morey, a CFI from Medford, Oregon, and Conrad Teitell of Greenwich, Connecticut, an attorney with the law firm Cummings & Lockwood. The pilots will use Morey’s 2013 Cessna Corvalis TTx four passenger airplane for the flight, departing Tuesday, Sept. 16, and landing in several states each day.
The idea of flying the Capital Air Tour came to Teitell when he wanted to “raise the bar” after he and Morey completed Teitell’s quest to fly from the highest airport in the U.S. to the lowest airport in 2013.
“It was Conrad’s idea to land at every state capital in the lower 48 and Alaska,” Morey explained, “but I thought we should do it all in two weeks to show just how capable and technologically-advanced a modern private airplane can be.”
An unexpected development occurred when Morey spoke with an elementary school teacher about the Capital Air Tour. Because the entire flight will be tracked using an on-board Spot Generation 3 GPS tracking device showing the real-time location of the Corvalis TTx, the flights offer teachers a chance to give lessons in time, distance and U.S. state capitals.
A complete itinerary with tentative schedule, along with the tracking map, is available for the public to follow on Morey’s website.
Morey has instructed hundreds of instrument flight students on “real world weather” flights to Alaska, the Rocky Mountains and the Idaho backcountry through his company, Morey’s West Coast Adventures. One of those students, Dr. Oliver Smithies, when accepting the Nobel Prize for Genetics, said, “Field taught me a lesson very important in the sciences, that you can overcome fear with knowledge.”
Each day along the Capital Air Tour route, Morey and Teitell plan media availabilities in cities where that day’s series of flights concludes. They will be distributing information from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association to help demonstrate the value of local airports, while allowing electronic and print media reporters to get a close-up look at the airplane being used for the flight.
“The Cessna Corvalis TTx is the fastest single-engine, fixed gear production aircraft on the market,” Morey said, “and has a maximum cruising speed of 235 knots. With that level of performance, we are able to plan a mission profile for the Capital Air Tour that involves covering over 12,000 miles with stops at 57 airports in two weeks.”
The airplane to be used on the Capital Air Tour is nicknamed “The Green Hornet,” and is equipped with a Garmin G2000 glass cockpit that includes NEXRAD radar for storm avoidance, anti-ice equipment, and terrain and traffic avoidance devices, along with the latest autopilot technology essential for avoiding crew fatigue.
Morey said that their flight plan is subject to diversions caused by unsafe weather situations.
“September is the heart of hurricane season and that could be the biggest influence on our route,” he said. “A major route decision will be made prior to leaving Wisconsin on Sept. 20 as we prepare to continue east. The remaining route of our flight plan will all depend on the weather moving up through the Gulf States along the Atlantic coast at the time.”