Home > VansAirForceForums

-Advertise in here!
- Today's Posts | Insert Pics

Keep VAF Going
Donate methods

Point your
camera app here
to donate fast.

Go Back   VAF Forums > Main > RV General Discussion/News
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 11-23-2015, 02:35 PM
exsterminator exsterminator is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: East Bay, SF
Posts: 28
Default Who uses airplane to commute to work?

So there's a possibility I may be spending 3-4 days per week in a different work location, starting next year for the next 3-5 years. Relocating family is not an option. Driving distance is 90 miles each way and I figured I would drive up early Monday morning, spend Monday and Tuesday night away from home and drive back Wednesday. Thursdays may involve occasional daily commutes. It is a 90 minute drive each way, regardless of traffic or time of day due to roads I would have to use.

Home airport to local airport at work location is 50 NM. My home to home airport is 15 mins, and it is 15 mins at the other end to work location. This makes it possibly marginally quicker to fly.

There are so many variables purely on the $$$ side to consider that its hard to know where to start when looking at economy: cost of overnight accommodation, food and car fuel as driver, versus cost of "parking" the plane and airplane fuel as an example. For those who commute by plane, what factors should I be considering to see if this is viable? Is my commute too short to make the airplane worthwhile (purely from commute standpoint)?

The biggest plus I can see, assuming costs are close to a wash, is that I could spend every night at home. The biggest negative is that I am VFR only so flying commute would not be all-year round (but I live in Northern CA so get good flying weather 9 months of the year minimum). Please help me with other things to consider.
Daniel, KCCR nearest field
RV9A of most interest
Yet to start building, in discovery phase
Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2015, 03:02 PM
jcaplins's Avatar
jcaplins jcaplins is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Davis, CA, USA
Posts: 547

I'd be interested to see what comes of this. At some point I may end up flying back and forth to San Jose for work.

Where to and from? so we can do the math.
What plane, how fast?

Is you scheduled a little flexible? Or must you be onsite at at a specific time?
What happens if you fly to work, but weather doesn't allow you to fly home?

Financial, I think driving would win by a large margin. but a commute to and from the bay area by car could take 2 to 6 hours depending on traffic. Commute times by plane should be more consistent.
Jeff Caplins
(started: Feb 2002 --> Completed: May 2016)
Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2015, 03:08 PM
roadrunner20's Avatar
roadrunner20 roadrunner20 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Andrews, NC (KRHP)
Posts: 1,972

I used my RV7 to commute to work.

By car, my commute each way, was 75 miles, and would take 1:40. I also had about $10 in tolls.
Flying was 15 mins and a 5 min bus ride to downtown Clearwater.
Much cheaper and way more fun commuting by RV.

Fortunately, KCLW had no ramp or daytime fees, only an overnight.

This worked great except in the summers, where in Florida you have to deal with daily thunderstorms. I opted to not fly in the summer.
Danny "RoadRunner" Landry
Morphed RV7(formally 7A), N20DL
1240+ hours

Last edited by roadrunner20 : 11-23-2015 at 03:11 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2015, 03:29 PM
Ironflight's Avatar
Ironflight Ironflight is offline
VAF Moderator / Line Boy
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 12,829

Louise used to commute from our airpark home on the south side of Houston to College Station, about 100 nm away. Flying was about 40 minutes block to block, driving was 2:30 through Houston downton. Flying was a huge "win"!

However, she had a flexible schedule, could work from home when needed, and had a crash-pad condo in College Station where she frequently overnighted. Weather frequently drove her schedule. I don't think I'd have been very comfortable if she HAD to be there every day with the dynamic weather and a simple IFR single. It was a great benefit, but you couldn't depend on it.

I'd say you could do it when it worked out - but expect to drive a lot!
Paul F. Dye
Editor at Large - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Dayton Valley Airpark (A34)

Last edited by Ironflight : 11-23-2015 at 05:51 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2015, 04:17 PM
FORANE's Avatar
FORANE FORANE is online now
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: East TN
Posts: 604

I have been commuting to work by plane for the last 10 years, but my commute is weekly not daily.
As Paul indicates, you will need a "plan B". Plan to have days which you can fly there but not back or vise versa. Don't put yourself in a position of get there itis.
What time do you have to be at work in the morning? Will you be flying at night? Will there be fog in the morning in Northern Cali? What happens if you get up in the morning and the weather is marginal? Will you still have enough time to drive in the morning if you decide the weather is poor?
Get your instrument rating. Equip your plane with some sort of onboard weather and an autopilot.
Ultimately, depending on the roads you would drive if driving, I think 90 miles is likely too short to make the hassles of flying on a schedule worthwhile.
Lancair 235/340
RV-9A (2013 - 2016)
Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2015, 04:34 PM
exsterminator exsterminator is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: East Bay, SF
Posts: 28

Just to add a little more color:

I do not own a plane at present but am looking for excuses to get one
Ideally I would daily commute during the spring/summer/fall months but spending occasional nights "on location" due to marginal weather would not be a deal breaker.
Would be considering buying a beater car to keep at work location which could be used to get home if essential and weather poor.
Flying from KCCR towards Sacramento so marine layer not really an issue.
Work schedule in terms of start and end of day is flexible but ideally would be 7.30am start (means leaving home by 6am if driving the whole way, with a buffer) and around a 5pm finish.
Assume plane would cruise at 125kts minimum.

The one recurring thing I hear from people who drive 1.5hrs+ each way a couple of times a week is how it wears on your mood, especially when you get home and have to walk in to "insta-family" mode (have 3 young kids). The ability to break this monotonous routine up by flying regularly instead of driving, and spend more evenings at home is what brought this to my attention as an option. Not the most $$$ cost effective option but time effective option.
Daniel, KCCR nearest field
RV9A of most interest
Yet to start building, in discovery phase
Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2015, 05:00 PM
Skytrash's Avatar
Skytrash Skytrash is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Cameron Park, CA
Posts: 75

I have been commuting 4 days a week for almost tens years now in my RV-9A. JAQ to PAO to JAQ. I have a 90 mile (35 minute) flight or a 125 mile drive (3-4 hours). Here are a few tidbits to think about.

-IFR is a must for into the bay area summer mornings. Concord may be a little more forgiving. I had 28 approaches in a row in the mornings July August time frame a few years ago.
-A flexible schedule is also a must. Be prepared to stay at one end when you want to be at the other.
-A place to stay
-Autopilot for single pilot IFR is a must
-Tie down fees are $140 a month at PAO, hopefully less at your destination
-Oil change every 6-8 weeks, 4 days a week, 35 minute flight time each way
-Spare mags to swap when 500 hour inspection is required (I am changing to P model E-mags)
-Car at the other end, bicycle for good weather if it is close enough
-Spare tire and tools to change a tire at the other end ($343 at an FBO)
-Be able to deal with stress of not being where you planned, goes with the flexible schedule
-Make go/nogo decisions timely and effectively
-Good weather subscription(s) for making an informed decision
-300-400 hours per year on the airplane for me (includes a few non-work cross countries)
-Spare parts are needed on hand (tires, tubes, talc, plugs, oil, filters, etc.)
-A place to work on the airplane out of the elements (hangar)
-Discipline to check TFR's and NOTAMS (there is usually a way around them if you are prepared)
-Plan an at least one weekend between oil changes working on the airplane
-Have your airplane completely ready when you start the commuting, not much time for changes when it has to be ready by monday AM.
Jim Bray
RV-9A Commuter
Loving Cameron Park, California
Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2015, 05:01 PM
apkp777's Avatar
apkp777 apkp777 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Okauchee, WI
Posts: 2,054

I live in Salem, OR and commute to SFO weekly. Quite a few times I have made the 3.2 hour flight back and forth. If it were not for the the high ramp fees at SQL (San Carlos) I'd do it more. An equal amount of times I fly from Salem to Eugene and leave the plane on the ramp there. I walk out the GA gate down the sidewalk about 100 yards through TSA and non-rev to SFO. That works very well. Now that the weather in the PNW has turned to muck, I am stuck driving back and forth to EUG or PDX.

Comparing commute times for me:
1hr drive in no traffic to PDX,
1hr wait for departure
1.5 hr flight to SFO
.5 hr bus to my pad in SFO
Total 4 hours door to door. That's if I don't get bumped off my flight!
Costs me around $50 each way

Commuting by plane
15 minutes to my hangar
3.2 hour flight
1 hour CalTrain to San Bruno from San Carlos.
15 minute walk
Total about 5 hours door to door.
Costs me around $75 each way plus $10/day ramp at SQL.
Tony Phillips
N524AP, RV 9 (tail wheel)

Last edited by apkp777 : 11-23-2015 at 05:06 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2015, 05:02 PM
TomVal's Avatar
TomVal TomVal is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SC & CA
Posts: 907

Posts #5 & 7 hit all the alarm bells. I'd drive with perhaps spending one night a week in the hotel to take the edge off the commute. Plus don't discount the San Joaquin Valley fog.
Tom Valenzia
RV8 (Sold)
RV12 Jabiru 2200 Powered (Sold)
Dues contributor since 2007

Learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make all of them yourself...Anonymous

Last edited by TomVal : 11-23-2015 at 05:04 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2015, 05:20 PM
rleffler's Avatar
rleffler rleffler is offline
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Delaware, OH (KDLZ)
Posts: 4,283

I work at an airport about an hour dive from my house. The airport charges a landing fee. The other day, I did ask the manager repsponsivle for employee parking, where the employee airplane parking was. I got a deer in the headlights look in return.

I have a door to the ramp right outside my office, but I can just hear TSA complaining about taxing up to the terminal.

I can always dream about commuting to work in my RV-10.
Bob Leffler
N410BL - RV10 Flying
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:03 PM.

The VAFForums come to you courtesy Delta Romeo, LLC. By viewing and participating in them you agree to build your plane using standardized methods and practices and to fly it safely and in accordance with the laws governing the country you are located in.