July 05, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thunderstorms, High Winds Could Not Stop Transcontinental Flight
Denton, TX - A Coast to Coast flight in a Light Sport Aircraft met more than its share of adverse weather as it successfully flew from Carlsbad, CA to Wilmington, NC. Michael Combs with Flight Assistant Daniel Routh arrived at Wilmington International Airport before noon, less than fifty hours after departing the West Coast in an effort to set a new world record.
The flight successfully departed Carlsbad with low cloud ceilings within minutes of the 7:15 PDT cutoff time signifying the last possible moment of departure. Fuel stops were made with efficiency in Chandler, AZ; El Paso, TX; and Midland, TX. Head winds forced the flight to end 1.5 hours early on Flight Day One which ended just eleven minutes prior to civil twilight in Abilene, TX. "We are flying under the rules of the Sport Pilot's License," explained Combs. "One of the main rules is that we cannot fly at night which is a challenging feat when you are attempting a flight of this nature and duration."
As Flight Day Two unfolded with stops in Denton, TX; Greenville, MS, and Birmingham, AL the deficit left by headwinds on the prior day had been diminished and The Flight was actually ahead of schedule. "After Birmingham is where it all began to become challenging," said Combs. "We encountered rapidly building storm cells just prior to the Atlanta, GA area which forced us to negotiate through these systems while talking with regional controllers who were extremely helpful. As we looked at the route ahead, our destination airport in Columbia, SC was experiencing heavy rain. The same conditions were also beginning to quickly move toward Wilmington. Literally, our flight plans changed within minutes as this system grew larger and larger."
Upon experiencing severe turbulence, Combs landed his REMOS aircraft named "Hope One" at Greenwood County Airport prior to the arrival of a storm cell which brought gusts of 42 knots. "I had pulled Hope One close to the terminal building in order to find shelter from the wind, but when it began blowing that strong, it took me holding down the propeller in order to keep it on the ground. We had winds, rain, and even light hail before the skies finally cleared. It brought welcome rain to the area, but we wished that it would have happened two days later."
After speaking with the control tower in Wilmington, Combs was assured that the system was breaking up and that the skies would clear before they arrived. Unfortunately, the cells redeveloped an hour after the take-off for their final leg of flight from Greenwood County.
"We were surrounded by lightning and landed at our back-up airport in Florence, NC that we had established with our team," said Combs. "The tower told us that earlier they had experienced 70 mph gusts and that the power was out at the airport. Fortunately, it was still light enough to land on the runway which had no lights. Within 20 minutes of our landing we watched as the sky turned dark and were treated to quite a show from the lightning storm. Hope One had already been quickly pulled into a hangar that was flooded from the prior thunderstorm which had knocked out the power. Overall, it was quite an experience that I'll never forget!"
Skies were calm and blue the next morning which allowed Combs to fly into Wilmington and complete his Coast to Coast flight as an official timekeeper broadcast the time to Combs.
"My overall goal for The Flight is to encourage 50 million people that it is never, EVER too late to follow your dreams, no matter what they are. It was a pretty awesome experience to shake hands and to hug people from coast to coast in the course of two days. We also wanted to prove the dependability of the Light Sport Aircraft, and I have to say that this REMOS is absolutely amazing in every way! It is a tough, quality built aircraft that has proven its dependability in every single way possible."
Combs has logged over 37,000 miles in Hope One reaching over 200 airports in 49 states including Alaska and Western Canada. He is hoping to complete his mission in Hawaii which will mark the successful flight into all fifty states behind the tail of his small aircraft. Combs also has stated that he will attempt the Coast to Coast World Record again if the weather allows as early as within the next few weeks, and if not then it is already scheduled for June of 2013.
"My flight team has learned a lot from this incredible 4,755 mile roundtrip experience, and we will make a few adjustments on our next attempt. We have proven that it is possible to set this type of world class record in such an aircraft, but finding two solid days of good flyable weather from coast to coast has always been a bigger challenge than actually flying the mission which naturally comes with its own set of physical encounters. I just hope that we have inspired others to follow their dreams and that we are showing that the world of aviation is very much alive and doing well. This has been evidenced by the fantastic coverage and fan support that we continue to develop."
You can follow "The Flight for the Human Spirit" on the website: www.FlightHS.com
Photo Caption - Michael Combs and Flight Assistant Daniel Routh give a thumbs up on Day Two of their Transcontinental Flight in a REMOS GX Light Sport Aircraft named, "Hope One."