Imagine, if you will, the following scenario. You’re on an 18-hour flight. Your seat doesn’t recline. There is no in-flight entertainment. There is no in-flight service. The cabin is not pressurized. You can’t go to the bathroom – because there isn’t one. And you’re the only passenger.
Oh…and you’re the pilot, too.
For Tom Lopes, this scenario played out in a very real way on Saturday. Lopes completed the 2,521-mile journey when he ferried a brand-new Cessna 172 G1000 NXi Skyhawk (reg. N490NW) from Merced Regional Airport (MCE) in Merced, California, to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu (HNL).
At a filed altitude of 6,000 feet and an average speed of 139mph, the flight was completed in 18 hours and five minutes. Lopes departed MCE at 0610 and arrived in HNL at 2115, both times local.
The Plane Was Delivered to a Flight School in Honolulu
The Cessna was delivered to George’s Aviation, a flight school located at HNL. In fact, less than 24 hours after the aircraft landed in Hawaii, it was already in the air providing flight training to students. According to George’s Aviation CEO George Hanzawa, it took just two hours to remove the modified fuel tanks and install the seats for use.
Hanzawa says the Cessna departed MCE with just over 200 gallons of fuel. Upon arrival in Honolulu, it had approximately 25 gallons left.
Lopes communicated with a temporary High-Frequency (HF) system installed on the aircraft. Additionally, FlightAware showed the Cessna flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet at times throughout the journey.
In a Facebook post created by Hanzawa, he said that he has arranged ferry flights from the mainland before. However, for some reason, this particular flight garnered an unusual amount of attention.
Upon arrival in Honolulu, Lopes was given a traditional Hawaiian welcome, with the adorning of a lei around the Cessna’s propeller hub and another around Tom’s neck.