In regards to the question asked on my flight planning of my trip, flying my plane home from Arizona to Florida. First off as a recently licensed sport pilot with 95 hours total time at the start of the trip I took considerable time and detail to plan my journey and big adventure. I first planned my trip on the AOPA flight planner to get a rough idea of the total distance, terrain elevations, longest legs necessary for stops for available fuel and airports along my route, that could serve as stops or alternates if necessary. Once I had an initial plan I bought the necessary sectionals that would cover my proposed routes and laid them out on my kitchen counter and took a pencil and drew my routes.These sectionals turned out to be very useful at the hotel at night making necessary changes to my plans for the next day due to ever changing conditions. After assembling my initial plan I arranged a formal meeting with my former instructor who happens to be forum member Deltafox to review my plan with me. After a few small tweaks and suggestions he felt I had a pretty solid plan and I felt pretty confident with it. At his suggestion I did watch the six training videos on the Skyview Touch EFIS system my plane is equipped with, as all of my time has been in his PiperSport which has the legacy Dynon system. This training was invaluable to me for my trip because I learned much of the new and very useful capabilities that were now going to be available to me.
Some of my biggest concerns I knew I would face on my first few legs of my journey because I would be required to fly over some 8000 ft mountains and take off and land at some airports at over 6000 foot elevation. Almost all of my previous experience has been in Florida and on my first half of my journey I would have a passenger and need enough fuel to complete some 200 nautical mile legs so weight and performance were of concern to me. I flew my first leg on Friday afternoon after taking delivery of my plane that morning. The airport I was taking off from on Saturday morning, the second leg of my journey was in New Mexico and over 6000 foot in elevation. When I arrived to the airport that morning the skies were crystal clear and the temperature was 22 degrees but substantial ice had formed on my wings overnight, so I went and bought some rubbing alcohol to quickly remove the ice from the wings. The plane preformed very well in these elevations with the very cold conditions and I faced no performance problems at all. Saturday was the only day which weather conditions allowed me to fly the entire day on this trip, I made it across New Mexico and much of Texas stopping the final time for the day just past Austin, Texas.
Sunday thru Wednesday (which was Christmas Day) were very different. If the weather was good I had planned for a three day trip, but starting Sunday morning the weather did not cooperate very well. I had a weather front moving slowly out ahead of me so for the next 4 days I had to take off in the early afternoon and could only fly 2 to 3 hours per day before I caught up to the weather. On Sunday evening we were at my passenger's home in Louisiana. I stayed at his home Sunday night and over the next 3 days I flew solo on to Hammond, LA and then a slightly more than 300 nautical mile leg on Christmas Eve from Hammond to Marianna, FL and Christmas Morning on to Tampa.
My big impression of the trip was how helpful it was using ATC flight following , it allowed me to stay on the most direct course home through controlled airspace and their cooperation helped me immensely and built my confidence. I know feel very confident and equipped to take on another long journey now. I am very glad I took on this challenge and all my detailed planning paid big dividends, The only other challenges were landing at remote unmanned airports that though self serve fuel was available there was no cell service, and even if there was service, no Uber service to get to a hotel. Thankfully I came across some great people that just happen to be around that helped me with those difficulties.