I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Craig Burfeind, director of software engineering at Garmin Chanhassen, who made a 30-hour flight from the Minneapolis metropolitan area to Anchorage, Alaska in his well-equipped Cirrus SR-22. Craig has been flying since 1979 and boasts a number of pilot certificates and ratings including, Certified Flight Instructor-Instrument (CFII), Multi-Engine Instructor (MEI), and even a Single Engine Sea (SES) rating. Armed with over 2,500 total flight hours and his son Brandon (an F-22 pilot in the United States Air Force) as his co-pilot, they both share their perspective on this exciting adventure:
Q. How did Garmin Pilot help with planning your trip? Did you use any features that were particularly helpful?
Craig: Brandon and I used a lot of features within Garmin Pilot, including estimated time enroute to calculate fuel range, which was particularly helpful given the amount of ground we covered. Additionally, the highest point along a route feature was very helpful. As a flatlander pilot, I rarely used this feature in the past. I always know I can fly 3,000 feet or above and clear terrain without issue. For every leg that we planned throughout this trip, that was our “go-to” feature to determine our enroute altitudes - very powerful and cool.
Q. Did you try out any new features within Garmin Pilot during your flight?
Craig: During the 30-hour flight, we actually tested out the latest version of Garmin Pilot – particularly the logbook feature. Since we were making multiple stops and covering a lot of ground, it was a great opportunity to flight test logbook before we launched it to our customers in July.
Q. Any advice to customers out there looking to make a similar cross-country flight?
Craig: Make sure you do all of your planning, as weather is and was the biggest issue throughout the flight. We were grateful to have the GDL 39 on board, which allowed us to receive FIS-B weather and display it within Garmin Pilot. This was especially helpful as we flew farther North and got closer to Alaska where the G1000 couldn’t receive SiriusXM weather – the GDL 39 and Garmin Pilot were our only sources of receiving weather in-flight, both of which worked wonderfully.
Q. Do you have any cool stories from the trip?
Craig: The trip to Alaska was incredible, particularly having the opportunity to hang out and go flying with my son, Brandon. The most memorable and coolest flight we made was up in Alaska when we climbed up to 12,000 feet and flew near and around Mt McKinley with my grandson, who was a few months old at the time. Throughout life, you’re always trying to give your children good experiences and now the tables have turned; I would have never done this type of flying on my own so essentially Brandon has paid me back.
Q. But the most memorable part of the trip for you?
Craig: We both had a hidden agenda and that entailed taking my grandson Daniel, flying for the first time, which made the trip very memorable. Brandon has a picture on his wall of him and I standing next to a Cessna 172 when he was one year old. When Brandon soloed, we took another picture together. After our flight with Daniel in Alaska, the three of us took a similar picture together (see below).
Because this story wouldn’t be complete without Brandon’s account of this memorable and exciting flight, I also had the chance to ask him a few questions about his trip to Alaska with his dad:
Q. I heard your dad taught you how to fly, how old were you when you started flying?
Brandon: I’ve been flying with my dad since I was 14 but I didn’t start flight training with him until I was 18. The rest of my flight training was completed in the Air Force.
Q. Because we’re curious, how long have you been flying the F22 and how many hours do you have in the Raptor?
Brandon: I’ve been flying the Raptor for three years and have just over 300 hours in the F22.
Q. What was memorable part of the Alaska trip for you?
Brandon: A couple of things – flying into Boeing Field, as well as flying along the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. St. Helens, and flying over Seattle during sunset. Also, during the last leg of the trip, we got stuck in North Dakota at a closed FBO due to some thunderstorms in the area. At that point, it was great to have my Dad’s meteorological background as we picked our way through the storms.
Q. But the most unforgettable part of the trip for you?
Brandon: Being a part of my son’s first flight with my Dad. We flew around Mt. McKinley, where Daniel fell asleep right until we reached 12,000 feet. At altitude, he woke up, we flew around for a bit and then headed back to land and he was completely happy the entire time!