Over two weeks’ time, hopping from capital to capital, pilots Field Morey and Conrad Teitell will spend 77 hours in the air, flying in Morey’s Cessna Corvallis TTx and touching ground in municipal airports. They landed in Juneau on Tuesday evening.
Morey and Teitell met 20 years ago when Teitell was a student of Morey’s. “(Morey) takes students and he flies them halfway across the United States or up to Alaska and back, and then seven days later, they have real-life experience,” Teitell said of Morey’s business teaching pilots to fly with instruments in mountainous regions and inclement weather.
The stop in Juneau was Morey’s second trip to Alaska in about a week’s time. He had touched down in Sitka, Anchorage and Kenai.
This trip wasn’t about Morey’s business, though. It was about highlighting general aviation and municipal airports.
“Of course, we don’t have to promote general aviation in Alaska,” Morey said. “And we don’t have to promote reliever airports, but when we get down into the Lower 48…”
Dan Pimentel, who is handling publicity for the tour, said there is a continuous pressure across the country for development of the land small municipal airports sit on.
They hope that seeing Morey’s state-of-the-art plane will correct an image people have of general aviation involving rusting old planes. They also hope that stopping in these small airports will allow them to publicize the benefits they provide to cities.
Morey owned a small airport for 33 years, he said, until he sold it to a municipality about 10 years ago. Now, he said, it’s really blossomed and operates in the black. The airport doesn’t need city tax dollars and actually has been improving the economy with added tourism spending.
Teitell had the idea of flying to 49 states — Hawaii is too far for the small plane — and it evolved into a trip to each of the capitals in two week’s time.
In total, they will spend 77 hours in the air, a trip that began with stops in Salem, Oregon, and Olympia, Washington, on Tuesday. Though they had bluebird skies in Alaska — which for Morey’s business training pilots in good weather is generally a bad thing — they are prepared to change course should hurricane systems become a problem along the Gulf Coast.
“We’re not going to fly into a hurricane,” Morey said.
The last unique trip the pair made was flying from North America’s highest airport in Leadville, Colo., at 9,927 feet above sea level, to Death Valley, which is 230 feet below sea level. Death Valley was also 138 degrees when they touched down, so they didn’t stick around to enjoy the view.
For this trip, part of the ritual is adding a sticker to the doors of the plane of the state flag for each of the capitals they visit. They saw an opportunity for the trip to be a learning tool for students as well, because they can follow along from capital to capital and learn about distances along the way using a map that tracks the plane’s progress. The map can be found at ifrwest.com/cat.
On their first day, they visited three capitals, but progress varies by region. Teitell said he thought they might visit only two capitals on some days in the expansive west, and far more on the east coast.
Though Hawaii is left out, they’ll have no problem reaching the other state capitals, Morey said. The plane has a 1,200-mile range and they’ll mostly be cruising at 200 mph. The plane can go up to about 310 mph at an altitude of 25,000 feet.
While 12,000 miles in 77 hours over two weeks might seem like quite a bit of flying time, it’s just a flash in the pan for Morey, who has spent an impressive number of hours in the sky.
“I’ve been off the face of the Earth for four years,” Morey said. “You do the math.”
(We at the Empire did do the math, and it equals more than 35,000 hours with a birds-eye view, which is pretty nice over Alaska, Teitell and Morey both admit.)
While Alaska may not have learned any lessons about the value of small planes and airports not already known, Aero Services saw to it that the Morey, Teitell and the “Green Hornet” they arrived in were taken care of in Alaska’s capital.