We’ve all been there. It’s a nice day, we want to go flying but don’t have a particular destination in mind. The Monmouth Area Flying Club based at Lakewood Airport (N12) in New Jersey has a solution—The Book of Routes.
“It came about for a couple of reasons,” Club Activities Coordinator Charles Burke said. “The primary reason was to get more people flying.”
Members would call Charles and say they didn’t know where to go, so he decided to offer suggestions, and the Book of Routes was born. It started with 10 routes that Charles developed and has grown to 15 as members have added to the collection.
More than just an aerial Lonely Planet, The Book of Routes is designed to challenge the club’s 160 members to maintain their proficiency by using a variety of flying skills (see this month’s Club Spotlight for more ways the club keeps members engaged). Each course has certain characteristics and includes multiple waypoints for members that want to practice various forms of navigation or flying in different types of airspace. It is also a tool to encourage members to fly together.
The book is a simple pdf that is listed on the Documents page of the club’s website. Each route is numbered and includes an image of a sectional chart with a magenta line, as well as a written description of the various waypoints, which may include airports, VORs, or intersections.
“Each leg uses a different way of navigation,” Charles said. “You might use dead reckoning, then to the second waypoint you might use the VOR, and then the GPS.”
There is a target airport, which is the halfway point of the route and usually has a restaurant on the field or close to it. A couple of the destinations also have museums, like the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum at Cape May County Airport (WWD).
The total distance in nautical miles is listed, with courses varying from 70 nm to 226 nm. Most are around 125 nm. The description also lists the number of legs per segment. Each route has two segments with a halfway point so that if two members fly together, they can switch who is in the left seat. Charles said a lot of guys find the Book of Routes is really great because they can each fly a segment, share the costs, and enjoy the company.
Most courses have two or three legs per segment, with a few that have more. The longest route has six legs per segment. Some entries also have notes about talking to ATC, or suggested altitudes to stay clear of Class C or D airspace.
Lakewood Airport is near the Shore in Central New Jersey, about 20 miles east of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. One of the routes is designed to practice radio communications, first by contacting the tower at McGuire (WRI), then Philadelphia Approach, and finally New York Center. “Because of where we are, you are constantly working the radio even though you may only be going in a 30-mile radius.”
Some of the routes make no sense on paper, but the point isn’t just to fly to destination. The point is to give members ideas on where to go in a way that they can practice some flying skills.
For members who are simply looking for a destination to fly to, the club has two $100 hamburger lists—one for airports in New Jersey and another with airports in five neighboring states.
“Everything is planned out so you can do your research before you get to the airport because you know where you are going to go,” Charles said. “It makes it easy.”
It’s a tool that any club could replicate with local routes to provide members some ideas on where to fly while maintaining proficiency in navigation, communication, and flight planning.
The Monmouth Area Flying Club has found The Book of Routes to be a useful resource to encourage members to fly more, improve their piloting skills, and to build camaraderie by flying with other members.
“The Book of Routes has been very successful,” Charles said.