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So, I am planning a flight from Virginia to California and am wondering what pilots consider to be the optimal length of each leg. What do you plan for between. 2 and 4 hours!

Flight Planning



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2 Answers

Hello CLF,
Limiting factors on leg length are usually fuel reserves and passenger comfort.
Fuel reserves should be adjusted based on weather and other risk factors that may come into play when going through the PAVE checklist. There are the legal minimums, but you will normally want to have more reserve to deal with additional risk factors you identify in your pre-flight planning. A great reference on this is the KING Practical Risk Management course. If you are not familiar with the PAVE and CARE checklists they are very thought provoking. The PRM course takes you through how to use them to better manage the risks associated with flying.
Passenger comfort will vary. My wife would like to keep our leg lengths down to no more than 3 hours but it may vary based on cabin comfort and the availability of a toilet! If you are carrying passengers, you may want to ask them how long they are comfortable flying on a single leg.

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CLF,

Yes, it really depends on a number of items; fuel range and minimums, weather, pilot and passenger comfort. In a small aircraft with fair weather conditions, it comes down to how long you and your passengers will be comfortable sitting for within the appropriate fuel range of the aircraft. You can’t simply pull over while flying in the air, so this is great information to figure out when doing your XC planning.
I hope the flight goes well and hope to hear about it on here soon!

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