Flights from BWI to Canaan Valley region??
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RyanC
March 9, 2004
Member since 11/28/2003 🔗
160 posts
Does anyone know if flights exist between BWI and the Canaan Valley region (meaning Elkins, Cumberland, etc.)? I'm sure if they did, it would be on a very small plane, but I do remember a few years back that reasonably priced daily flights existed between BWI and Cumberland (on PanAm) but that the service was stopped due to almost non-existent ridership.

Is there anything similar that currently exists that anyone on this board is aware of?
snowcone
March 9, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
Well Elkins-Randolph County is a GA (general aviation) non-towered airport. Normally GA only airports do not run any sort of scheduled flights ... only private planes and charters. I suspect that Cumberland is the same as it is also has no tower and operates only during daylight hours. You only option is chartering which cost a whole big bunch of bucks becaue you would have idle time or return time on the plane.
gatkinso
March 9, 2004
Member since 01/25/2002 🔗
316 posts
Ha! I worked for Cumberland Airlines one summer while I was in college. They are now defunct. CA flew from Cumberland to BWI and Ocean City MD.

Afterwards there were scheduled flights to Pittsburg - but I think that they are now discontinued as well.

What are you going to do once in Cumberland anyway? You are still about a 1.5 hour drive from the Valley. May as well drive the whole way!

Edit: I think US Air offered the flights from Pittsburg.
bawalker
March 9, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Anyone checked out the Winchester Regional Airport? This is located in the Rt 522/I66/I81 vincinity of Fredrick Co., VA. 2.5hr drive to Timberline from Winchester (timed myself).
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 9, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
I think there's a STRONG niche market for an air taxi service from Laurel, Bowie, or Leesburg to CV.

A friend of mine, an amateur pilot, occasionally flies from Laurel to CV. He is a member of the Civilian Air Patrol and rents Cessna aircraft from that organization for these flights. The cost of a trip is about $40 RT if he can get 3 passengers.

I'd like to see a more professional service offer flights from one of these airports to CV at a slightly higher rate.

Do we have any retired airline pilots out there interested in starting up an air taxi service?
snowcone
March 9, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
Usable payload on a Skyhawk (single engine Cessna) is in the 650 lbs. range. I imagine the Cessna johnfmh's friend rents runs between 55-95$ per hour depending ... the CA guys usually get it for a bit cheaper .. plus the cost of av-gas. Three passengers and a pilot would be pretty much a full load so unless you store your gear at the resort, you are not going to be able to take much more than a change of skivvies.

We have considered flying into Elkins and have been offered a pick-up/dust-off by friends at Snowshoe. I think the only reason we haven't done it so far is that it's mountain flying during the winter with possible icing and highly unpredictable as to whether once you fly in as to whether you would be able to fly out as scheduled. And then there is the pay load consideration mentioned above. I would like to do it during the summer but I dont think our bikes or yaks would fit in the back of the Cessna! I guess we will have to wait for the lottery and a larger plane!
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 9, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
Snowcone:

You just about summed it up. It's a 5 mile bike ride from Winwood to Timberline. I store bikes in CV Storage, which is very close to the airport. There's no room on a single engine Cessna for gear--you'd have to pre-position your gear at a condo or rent.

Icing is indeed an issue, but CAP doesn't charge you much if you get weathered in. They want to err on the side of caution. [Eek!] [Eek!] [Eek!]
gatkinso
March 10, 2004
Member since 01/25/2002 🔗
316 posts
General aviation and ski trips don't mix well. Expense, weather, and limited passenger/cargo all factor against a good trip - and then there is always the ground transportation logistics to deal with.

Atleast that was my experience.

Sure a bigger plane would help some of these issues - I think a Piper Navajo would be about right - but who has the money for that?

(I would smile seeing you ride down 32 to Canaan after a big dump!)
JimK - DCSki Columnist
March 10, 2004
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,715 posts
Some of you may know that there is a small runway within a couple hundred yards of the slopes at Bryce Mtn Ski area in Basye, Va. It has been a fixture in their valley since the I first visited the area in the 1960's. Over the years it has been responsible for attracting a small number of private-plane-owning visitors and vacation home owners from some relatively distant locations such as NC and GA because of the convenience of the runway. See comments at end of Bryce profile link below from a pilot who currently uses this facility.
http://www.dcski.com/resorts/bryce/
RyanC
March 10, 2004
Member since 11/28/2003 🔗
160 posts
Interestingly, flying from Baltimore to CV would probably take as long as driving (just like flying to Ocean City from Baltimore, something I'd like to try sometime instead of driving), but...it's much easier to let someone else do the flying, or driving rather than having to be behind the wheel the entire time. Similar to commuting from Baltimore to DC, why sit in traffic when I can sleep on the train [Wink]
snowcone
March 10, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
Actually we are looking at the possibliity of an older Beech Queen Air or one of the newer high performance twins like the Diamond Twinstar. My sister and brother-in-law bought a condo at Park City last year and, since he is an ex-navy pilot, the natural thought is to go in together to pick up a larger plane other than our ancient Cessna. Dream plane = http://www.midatlanticdiamond.com/twinstar_features.html

The current plan is to buy a condo/townhouse in South Lake Tahoe ... some 2 bed/ 2 bath fixer-uppers on Ski Run Drive are going for 160k-210k and do long weekends between ours and their place during the winter.

Buying the condo is not the problem ... buying a new plane or getting there on commercial air is.
snowcone
March 10, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
Actually Gaithersburg to Elkins is about 65-70 minutes by puddle-jumper Cessna, 4.5 hrs by car.

As I recall there seems to be a small private field near Cannaan. Is that still active?
gatkinso
March 10, 2004
Member since 01/25/2002 🔗
316 posts
Whew - if I could afford even half share of a Queen Air then I sure as hades wouldn't be skiing in WV!
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 10, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
The airfield is called Windwood and it is active. I had friends fly to my place and use Winwood in November. Windwood has fixed up its hotel and restaurant, and they want to offer car rentals as well, but I don't know if this has happened.

Anyone who wants to fly into Windwood is advised to call Windwood for permission to land:

http://www.airnav.com/airport/WV62

There is no tower but the runway has been recently paved and is plowed. To land, make
two passes over the runway, looking closely for deer or vehicles trying to cross the strip. You then land and tie your plane down at a guest tie down spot. Next, stop by the hotel and pay a small landing fee, and you are off and running. [Cool] [Cool] [Cool] [Cool]
JohnL
March 11, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
snowcone,

  • You are thinking of buying a condo/townhouse in South Lake Tahoe
  • Your sister and brother-in-law bought a condo at Park City last year
  • You're thinking of buying a plane

Do you have any single daughters? [Cool]
JohnL
March 11, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
Hey RogerZ,

I can now format my lists! [Razz]
Roger Z
March 11, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Yes JohnL excellent formatting! I'm looking forward to using the new poll system sometime too.

Didn't Canaan Valley used to advertise commercial flights to Elkins years ago? I'm pretty sure I remember that in one of their brochures. Anyway it seems like if you can find an airport near CV or Snowshoe, there might be some money to be had in running a daily or near-daily scheduled commercial flight out there (particularly Snowshoe with the six hour drive).
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 11, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
As I mentioned, CV has a great little airport: Windwood. Snowshoe, however, is more of a problem. The resort has a helipad but the nearest airport is

NRAO Green Bank

http://www.airnav.com/airport/WV52

Getting a commercial flight into Green Bank could be a huge problem because of the radio emissions restrictions established by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
RyanC
March 11, 2004
Member since 11/28/2003 🔗
160 posts
I agree that there would be plenty of pent-up demand for commercial service to perhaps Elkins area, within an hour to Snowshoe and 30 min. to CV (esp. if the rumored '3rd resort' ever gets built). Any guesses on if it will ever happen within the next 5-10 years. I, like a lot of people, do not hesitate to drive often to CV (after all, I just bought a condo there), but, since I live in Baltimore, I refuse to go to Snowshoe, as that violates my 'don't drive if it's over 4 hours away' rule. Not a big fan of long drives. I liked Deep Creek (which I can do in under 3 hrs.) but I couldn't afford anything there [Frown]
tommo
March 11, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
303 posts
As a very frequent flyer, I can't imagine dealing with any sort of commerical air service to get WV. Even discounting the cost, unless it's a charter from a general aviation depot, you're talking 2 hours min. from home until departure. 1 hour flight (depart, taxi, takeoff, vector in, land, unload.) At least 15 min for luggage, and then you've still got to get to your lodging/campground/ski area. Add to that the uncertainty (insanity?) of trying to fly into small, non ifr equipped airports in typically bad winter weather, and you have a prescription for aggravation or worse. Net result is that, in ideal weather, you're looking at 3.5 hours to get from A (home) to B (ski area).

By comparison, you can drive to 7 Springs or Wisp in 2.5 hours door to door, with 6 or 7 people and all your stuff, for about 75 bucks (at full IRS mileage rates) or about $15 in gas alone. 45 minutes further and you're at TL or CV. Put another way, in the time it would take to fly, I can drive to Wisp, unload, ski a few runs, and have a coffee in the lodge. Granted, Snowshoe is about 2 hours further by car, but even there flying would save less than an hour because of the distance to an airport.

Personally, if I'm going to deal with the expense and hassles of flying, I'm going to Utah, CO, CA, or Europe!
snowcone
March 12, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
Hey JohnL !!

.. actually I do have a single daughter. We finally convinced her to try skiing this year. She agreed, conditionally if we agreed to learn scuba so she could have built-in dive partners. Well she just totally amazed everyone. She is a natural. Four days and three day lessons later she was doing blues at Snowshoe like she had been skiing for years. Made me green with envy. We took her out to Park City last weekend and she sailed down groomed double blues with no problems. The powder tripped her up pretty badly a couple of times, but for season skiing she did good. She has become as much of a ski nut as we are. Ain't it great!

And, just so you know, we are a pair of lowly beltway bandits (contractor slime) and have only average nickels to rub together. Just happens our financial priorities are tilted toward skiing and flying. Kid has to make it on her own ... mom has to pay for ski trips and gear, dad pays for plane upkeep and certs!

As far as townhouses in S. lake Tahoe; there are some great deals on older places on the west side of Ski Run Drive. Since Interwest bought Heavenly a couple of seasons ago the prices have started to climb but you can still find something if you are willing to invest for fix up. There are a bunch of services that handle rentals and its possible to get a pretty good chunk of your mortgage paid each year. That's how my sister did in it Park City; they lucked into a one bedroom for sale right on the Plaza, did the math, bought the place and put it with a rental agency. Its still available to them any time its not rented.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 12, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
Tommo:

You said,

"By comparison, you can drive to 7 Springs or Wisp in 2.5 hours door to door, with 6 or 7 people and all your stuff, for about 75 bucks (at full IRS mileage rates) or about $15 in gas alone. 45 minutes further and you're at TL or CV."

This may be true if you live in Damascas or some other place west of DC, but it takes 4+ hours to drive to Timberline from downtown DC and 3+ hours to get to 7 Springs. I've made the trip to Timberline hundreds of times and it has never taken less than 4 hours from downtown DC no matter how fast I drive. From beyond the Beltway, it's a different story but from within the district, no way.

I don't think CV or Snowshoe could support a full commercial service, but a charter shuttle would work. If CV is fogged in, the flight can land in Elkins, a much better equipped airfield, and hire a van to drive them to T-line. The same system could be used in reverse if take-off conditions proved bad. Any charter service going into Windwood would probably have to construct a maintenance and de-icing hangar for its aircraft.

What I envision is a service similar to the executive air taxi services that fly people around the National Parks in Costa Rica--one where you could show up just 30 minutes prior to a flight with minimal check-in hassles. These flights would not go into DCA, IAD, or BWI, but smaller, private airports like Bowie, or Leesburg--ones with cheap or free parking and minimal hassles. Luggage limits would compel skiers to either rent or pre-position equipment at CV/Timberline. Windwood could house skiers in its Lodge and arrange a van transfer to Timberline, White Grass, or CV for skiing. 2d homeowners could keep bike or even cars at the nearby Canaan Storage to get to their houses or else hire a van shuttle from Windwood.

If people can afford to buy $500,000 houses on Herz Mountain, they can afford a charter service. In short, I'm convinced that there is a market.
RyanC
March 12, 2004
Member since 11/28/2003 🔗
160 posts
I agree 110% with john, at the very least, charter flights from places like Laurel, and Martin State Airport would be perfect. If you live in Gaithersburg or some other suburban area north/west of DC, you already have a head start. But, for those of us that live in more urban settings (whether in DC or in my case Baltimore), just getting to the outlying DC suburbs by car can be over an hour. And like I said, even if flying took the same amount of time as driving, I, like many others, would rather relax for most of the trip instead of having to be behind the wheel for 4 hrs. And, when you factor in wear and tear and mileage, etc. on a car, a $200 RT flight wouldn't be a bad deal, even for poor folks like me! (And the expense of a rental car isn't too bad, bec. you're putting the wear & tear of mtn. driving on a rental instead of your own).
tommo
March 12, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
303 posts
I find it extremely hard to believe that anyone would spend at least $300 to fly such a service. It's simply not rational. Let's say there IS a flight to CV and you get on it. Then the weather comes in the next day. You can't get home! The suggestion is that you'd take a van or something to Elkins and then try to fly home. But there's no plane there! Or, even if there was, you have to meet the van, wait for everyone (anyone?) else, and drive to Elkins. This takes, in bad weather, about 1 1/2 hours. Now you have to fly home. With weather, slotting, etc..., that's another 1 to 1.5 hours. Assuming you make it and are now on the ground, you still have to drive home. 1/2 hour so min. from when you stop rolling. So, again, you're at 3 1/2 hours (min - in reality much more in bad weather), you can't carry your stuff, and you've spent several hundred $$ for the "privilage." Even if you guarantee PERFECT weather, a verified seat on a small plane, and some way to get from airport to destination and back, the trip will be at least 2 1/2 door to door (and I doubt you could make it that short very often.) All this to save 2 hours or so. So, the net is you're spending $150 to $200 per hour for that time (again, assuming everything goes perfectly). And with the caveat's that you can't bring extra gear, you may or may not get home as scheduled, you've got to lay out more money for transfers at the ski end, and you have no way of getting around when you're there.

Now, would you REALLY pay $300 to $400 extra to do this???? Next time you go up there, try taking $350 and put it away some where. When you get back, would you burn it to have saved a couple of hours? And, usually, these are "low value" hours e.g. leave at 8:00 PM and your there at midnight. If you got to your place at 10:30 or 11:00, are you really much better off? I know I'd sure rather have the $500k house (an asset) than throw away hundreds of $$ per trip to save a couple of hours.... It's not even viable to Deep Creek, where a fully instrumented and weather equipped airport is right across the road from the ski area, and there's many more people with significant net worth. The time/cost equations just don't work.
Roger Z
March 12, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
It seems we can count Tommo as someone not interested in flying to WV. [Smile] But, Tommo, comparing a worst-case flight scenario to an average driving scenario simply isn't fair. I've been snowed in to CV in a car before, when the weather comes in it can really come in.

I agree with Johnfmh-- people use charter plane services at a lot higher rates and for a lot shorter trips in the business world all the time. Think of it this way, too: you can spend 300 dollars on a luxury hotel or 100 dollars on a standard one or 50 bucks on a roach motel in most cities. People stay at the luxury hotel despite the price differentials for all sorts of reasons. On top of that leaving from a regional airport as opposed to one of the major ones allows you to avoid rush hour hassle and on a nice day you could depart your home and be on the slopes in three hours or less. Imagine leaving your house in G-burg, going to that airport on 108, and hopping a flight from there. It's a ten minute drive to the airport followed by a 20-30 minute wait, a 45 minute flight to Windwood and then another 10-15 minutes to the ski slopes; that's less than 2 hours in normal circumstances. You could leave at seven in the morning and catch the first chair, practically.

Finally, keep in mind that a 300 dollar roundtrip ticket can't be compared to a "free" car drive. In addition to the hassles you may/will encounter with traffic, you're still looking at 75-100 bucks round trip for the vehicle alternative. The price spread is closer to 200 dollars. Still a lot, but so much that you couldn't find a market in DC for such a service? I doubt it. Think of the status bragging-- "me and my buddies chartered a plane to go skiing this weekend." You don't need more than a base of 10000 or so potential users in the market to make this viable (and we have four million people in this area, so that's .25% of the people in this region that we're talking about). If you could add Snowshoe to the charter pattern you'd be all set, but that would probably be pretty difficult. Perhaps you could fly people to the Greenbrier in the summer...
RyanC
March 12, 2004
Member since 11/28/2003 🔗
160 posts
One big thing Tommo didn't mention in the post is that when driving, weather is just as much of an issue as it would be if flying. In theory, I should be able to drive from my house in Baltimore, and arrive in CV within 3-3.5 hours. However, every trip I've made this year to CV it was pleasent the whole trip until I hit the alleghany front, then in many cases, the driving conditions are downright scary, especially considering that I don't have an SUV, or 4wd for that matter. Meaning, the drive can easily take 5 hours each way from November-March, almost half of the year. I'd rather be in a plane with an experienced pilot flying in non-ideal weather than driving my car on snow/ice covered roads with gigantic trucks on them pretending that the roads are dry [Mad]
gatkinso
March 12, 2004
Member since 01/25/2002 🔗
316 posts
If the cost is over $50 is it not worth it.

For a bit more money you can fly to a real ski destination.
tommo
March 12, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
303 posts
Hey, RogerZ, you've got my location pretty well pegged! I can be at Davis Airport (the one on 108 at Hawkins Creamery) in about 5 minutes by car or under 10 by bike. [Wink] But even then this doesn't make sense. If I use a super convienent airport like Davis, flying in anything other than visual approach conditions is out. A better alternative is Montgomery Airpark which is about 15 or 20 minutes away. Flying to WV from there saves, in ideal conditions, 2 hours, because it only takes 3 hrs to drive. In bad weather, a car will get there at least as fast as a plane. And if it's so bad you can't drive, there is no way you're going to fly in a small plane. Even moderate weather will ground small planes long before driving becomes difficult. As to difficult driving conditions, well, if the roads are that bad, any small airport is likely closed. You definately don't want to be in a small plane in icing conditions going to a small, mtn airport. Certainly now commerical operation would fly like that. Even commerical jets to major airports, e.g. BWI, are put on ground holds for ground level weather on a daily basis.

Even in good weather, for this short of a distance, the cost/benefit equation simply doesn't work. With an auto, I can transport multiple people for essentially the same cost. I can take my family and two kids, friends, dog, whatever. With the plane option, the cost is linear per person.

I've also "raced" cars and planes numerous times between locations from 150 to 250 miles apart. From ATL to Montgomery AL, for example, is 155 miles. If two people fly into the ATL airport and one takes a commercial, reliable flight to Montgomery, and the other gets their luggage, deals with a rental car, and drives, the driver will almost always beat the flyer. And that's a 25 minute flight on a commerical aircraft (small jet or large commuter plane) in good weather. I've done the same to Parkersburg WV (250 miles)and it's about a tie. To Newark NJ, car is faster. For NY, the plane often wins due to traffic. (In that case, of course, the train is by far the best bet.) However, any weather enters the picture at either airport (and weather can be heavy rain, local fog, heavy winds, T-storms in the area, etc..) that invaribly delays the aircraft much more than the car.

Planes almost always make sense for distances over 300 miles. That puts you on a commercial aircraft that operates above most weather systems. And it leaves only the takeoff and landing to deal with and the cruising speed of 500mph or so becomes the overwhelming factor. Obviously, the longer the distance, the greater the advantage. But for short hops, planes are generally not economically viable.

I also seriouly doubt you could run a charter to CV (or Elkins) for $300 a head roundtrip. Add in the car or van transport between airport and the price escalates quickly.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to have a nice private plane at Davis airfield that I could fly in good weather to Windwood, Garrett County, Smith Mtn Lake, and lots of other places. You could easily, on fair weather days, head up for a few runs and be back in the evening. And even on the best Winter days, you'd have to watch the weather very, very closely. But I think that is fundamentally different than a discussion of any commerical air service that has to be economically viable. If it was, there'd be lots of small charters going to Ocean City every weekend during the summer.
Roger Z
March 12, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Okay... charter flights might be a marginal business but potentially could be viable for those who prefer to fly (maybe). Tommo you've got a good point about scalability, and if I was going to pay for a flight I'd rather fly to Utah than West Virginia any day.

But it's a four hour drive from here. It's not four hours from more southern towns so let's ask this from two perspectives: first, why not a commercial flight from Atlanta or Charlotte up to Elkins? Lot's of folks drive up to WV from Georgia or NC or even SC. And there you are looking at a 10-12 hour drive and, some people down there prefer to go to the Mid Atlantic over the West, at least for long weekends. Now the second perspective: wouldn't this make even more sense if Bill Bright ever got around to building his Almost Heaven at some location around CV? You'd have three ski resorts (assuming Tline stays in the game) within thirty minutes of each other, two of them with more than 1000 vertical and good fall line terrain.

Maybe scalability would still be an issue, but there are a lot of families who would prefer to fly for two hours with two children than drive for 12 hours with them...
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