San Diego, California - June 10, 2009 — They set out to prove that light-sport aircraft (LSA) are a viable mode of transportation for long distance flying. And 19 hours and 21 minutes later, including time for fuel steps, they did just that.
On June 8, pilots Matt Hansen and Jessica Scharle successfully completed a transcontinental flight in a Peregrine FA-04 from Jacksonville, Florida, to El Cajon, California. Departing Cecil Field at 6:01 a.m. EDT, they made five stops along the way and touched down at Gillespie Field near San Diego at 10:22 p.m. PDT. Total flying time was 17 hours plus.
The flight also drew attention to the nonprofit flight-training scholarship program for people with physical disabilities through Able Flight.
Hansen, 23, is a commercial pilot and flight instructor who has been active in training people with disabilities to become sport pilots. Scharle, 24, is an Able Flight scholarship recipient, and one of Hansen’s former students who earned her Sport Pilot Certificate in 2008.
Scharle was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a condition that essentially fused all of her joints together. The first female Able Flight scholarship recipient to earn her pilot certificate, she shared equally in the piloting of the aircraft on their history-making trip.
Taxiing up to the ramp at Gillespie, they were met by family members and media. Asked what was the hardest part of the trip, the two replied in unison, "Texas," because of the turbulence they encountered throughout the Lone Star State. When asked what their plans are now, the response was to rest a bit and enjoy San Diego.
Since the National Aeronautic Association does not yet have a category that allows for the restrictions and limitations of an LSA, the crew has applied to the Guinness Book of World Records for an official record.
The Peregrine FA-04 is a factory-built special-light sport aircraft (S-LSA) and carries just under 30 gallons of fuel. The aircraft used for the flight is equipped for nighttime operations, and can be flown at night by a private or commercial pilot. That allowed Hansen to complete the last segment after dark.
Record-setting pilots Jessica Scharle and Matt Hansen flew a Peregrine FA-04 S-LSA from Florida to California.
Photo courtesy Jessica Scharle and Matt Hansen