(note: not the plane in question)
So Adam Leon, 31, is charged with stealing a Cessna 172 from a flight school in Thunder Bay Ontario and leading authorities, including a pair of F16 fighters on a merry chase before finally landing 6 1/2 hours and 783 miles later outside a little town in Missouri.
A strange story for sure but what I’m wondering is how did he fly so far for so long. I don’t have the POH (Pilot’s Operating Handbook) for the C172R that I’m taking flying lessons on with me but those figures seem a tad on the high side. So I decided to do some Googling to see what I could come up with.
First let’s look at the distance. For flight purposes, we always work in nautical miles while the 783 would be “normal” miles. We calculate that out to be:
783 miles = 680 nautical miles
Now it’s off to the POH. I don’t know what model of Cessna Mr. Leon was flying or whether or not it had extended tanks. Calculating range and endurance is based on so many factors – fuel load, pressure altitude, throttle settings, winds aloft……… that you can’t just pull a number out of your ass but let’s take a look at a “typical” entry from the book.
Some reports had him flying at 14,000 feet which is crazy unless the aircraft is equipped with oxygen so let’s use the 12,500 figures. If he ran at 2200 RPM then he could keep it in the air for 6 1/2 hours as reported but his range is less than 550 nautical miles, about 130 short of the reporting distance. So, we have to assume that he either had a larger fuel capacity or one hell of a tail wind or the news services have it all wrong (no voting!!).
The unfortunate thing here is that this will probably lead to stricter controls over general aviation, especially for those of us who fly fairly close to the US-Canada border.