Real World Coast to Coast

Watch. Experience. Learn.

Experience long-range IFR and VFR flying like never before with a left seat view of this journey from New Jersey to Southern California that both teaches and inspires.

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Watch This Introduction

Mark Robidoux and Keith Smith discuss the program.

“Real World” – Experience Is The Best Teacher

The goal of Real World Coast to Coast is to place you in the left seat and let you experience every aspect of these challenging cross-country flights first-hand, from the pilot’s perspective.

Follow Keith Smith (bio below) through a series of cross-country flights that are captured on HD video cameras. You’ll also watch him plan each flight with a detailed briefing (using ForeFlight) and then debrief after landing.

As you fly along, Keith talks you through each task and procedure as he completes it. You’ll hear all of his ATC interactions so you’ll know the proper phraseology to use on both IFR and VFR flights. There are no shortcuts! You follow the flights in near real time from engine start to engine shutdown.

Sample: High Altitude Mountain Crossing

Keith manages high altitude hazards during a mountain crossing.

The view over Keith’s shoulder reveals terrific insights. You see exactly what he sees and hear exactly what he hears. Watching Keith sweat it out on these flights gives you a window into procedures, techniques, ATC interactions and critical decision-making you can’t get any other way.

You’ll find yourself glued to the screen as the scenarios unfold, trying to anticipate what will happen next. Keith makes mistakes and not every flight goes as planned—because it’s real, unscripted flying! That’s what makes this program unique.

Fly along on this epic, coast-to-coast adventure.

Learn from Keith’s Experience

  • A series of challenging IFR and VFR flights
  • Long-range, cross-country flight planning
  • ATC Communications – IFR and VFR
  • A variety of reroutes and diversions
  • High-altitude mountain crossings
  • Radio communication problems in IMC
  • IFR legs through complex NY and LA airspace
  • VFR over the Grand Canyon at dusk
  • A high-density-altitude landing and departure
  • Fun at LAX: STAR in, SID out (and a flat tire)
  • Heavy use of ForeFlight, Stratus and ADS-B
  • Turbulence from winds, mountains, and heavy rain
  • Various “special flight rules area” transitions
  • Fatigue, hunger, stress, and potential hypoxia
  • Breathtaking scenery across the USA
  • And much more!

Meet Keith – The Guy You’ll Be Flying With

The Real World Coast to Coast program was developed by the PilotWorkshops team and led by Keith Smith. Keith is a highly accomplished instrument pilot and founder and developer of PilotEdge, the award-winning network that provides real (human) ATC interactions for pilots flying and training on flight simulators.

Keith also starred in our previous Real World programs (Real World IFR and Real World VFR), so we brought him back and gave him a new set of flying challenges—this time on a flight from his home in New Jersey to Southern California.

In addition to creating the PilotEdge network, Keith has personally logged more than 9,000 hours on his network providing virtual ATC services to pilots across thousands of simulated instrument flights. It’s fair to say that Keith’s passion for all things ATC borders on an obsession.

With such a passion for ATC interaction and years of working the other side of the picture on the virtual scopes, Keith provides a focus on radio interactions and airspace awareness not usually seen in the piston General Aviation world.

Keith flys his Lancair 360 in the Real World Coast to Coast flight videos. He has logged over 800 hours in this airplane and routinely flies it for long-range travel in a wide range of weather conditions at airports ranging from 1,800 ft non-towered strips to JFK, LAX, Atlanta Hartsfield, DFW and everything in between.

Keith is not an instructor, instead, he gives you the perspective of a highly accomplished pilot flying in the system. His focus is on managing these challenging flights from a PIC perspective (single-pilot) in the left seat rather than providing flight instruction from the right seat. This further enhances the “Real-World” feel of these videos.

Keith with his Lancair 360

View from Keith’s cockpit

Keith walks you through every detail of his flight planning in ForeFlight.

See and hear everything Keith does.

You’ll See It All: Briefings, Flights, and Debriefs

If you’ve wanted to use your airplane for long-range business or personal travel but lack the experience, this program gives you the confidence needed to take your flying to the next level.

Briefings: Keith conducts a detailed briefing before every flight—and we caught them all on camera, including a complete screen-capture of his iPad running ForeFlight! This is one of the most instructional aspects of the entire program.

Watch him brief all critical aspects of the flights—the weather, route, winds, NOTAMS, airports, airspace and more. By watching him brief this many consecutive flights, you’ll learn to look at an overall flight and quickly drill into the areas that require a more detailed investigation. This kind of briefing efficiency will help you feel comfortable tackling longer trips.

Flights: The flights were recorded in real-time using two HD video cameras mounted on Keith’s head and chest to show his view outside and on the instruments. We also captured his iPad throughout the entire flight so you can see what Keith is seeing in ForeFlight, in the air.

This gives you the ultimate “first-person” feel as you are riding along with him, hearing all of his ATC communications as well as his commentary on what’s happening throughout the flight. Having only two cameras allowed Keith to make the trip alone, without a camera crew…adding to the real-world feel.

Debriefs: Keith debriefs every flight on camera, providing a self-assessment of his performance and an occasional confessional when things don’t go as planned. These debriefs are shot immediately after the flights—at the airport, FBO, hotel room or on the ramp. This is a great way for Keith to recap the critical teaching points and lessons learned on each flight.

Sample Debriefing Video

Keith debriefs an epic flight over the Rocky Mountains.

Trip Details and Flight Information

Leg #1: “Lincoln Park, NJ to Columbia, SC”

From/To: N07-KCAE
Distance: 531 nautical miles
Briefing: 43 Min
Flight: 2 hrs, 5 min
Debriefing: 19 min


  • Tough start to the trip – IFR flight, long stretches of IMC
  • Deviations and re-routes for WX
  • Constant negotiations for lower altitudes due to strong headwinds
  • Radio issues due to low altitude, precip and electrical issues
  • Relays through other aircraft to communicate with ATC
  • Heavy use of ADS-B information to ensure best outcome
  • Last minute ILS approach with pilot fatigue becoming a factor

Leg #2: “Columbia, SC to Manila, AR”

Distance: 460 nautical miles
Briefing: 18 Min
Flight: 25 min
Debriefing: 7 min


  • A nice easy VFR leg in good weather; flight following
  • Intersection departure
  • Class C operations out of KCAE
  • Winds over mountain range create a turbulence concern
  • A brief shot of severe turbulence
  • Multiple climbs hunting for a smoother ride
  • Navigation over special use airspace
  • Extensive pilotage to back up GPS
  • Non-towered operations into KMXA

Leg #3: “Manila, AR to Stillwater, OK”

Distance: 337 nautical miles
Briefing: 18 Min
Flight: 1 hr, 19 min
Debriefing: 7 min


  • VFR flight in good weather
  • Conga line of arrivals
  • Substantial radio congestion
  • Interesting radio heard on 121.5
  • Constant vigilance for landing options over hostile terrain
  • Huge brush fire requires diversion
  • Manage fatigue compounded by hunger and dehydration
  • Negotiations with tower at Stillwater
  • Low pass at dusk followed by precision pattern

Leg #4: “Stillwater, OK to Taos, NM”

Distance: 415 nautical miles
Briefing: 23 Min
Flight: 1 hr, 32 min
Debriefing: 7 min


  • Shortened runway at TAOS requiring detailed performance planning
  • High-density-altitude takeoff simulation at SWO
  • Disagreement between another pilot and ATC; learning ensues
  • Working with ATC to get ride reports for mountain passes
  • Climb to 13,000+ over hostile terrain
  • An iPad overheat (no ForeFlight, Stratus) during critical period
  • Self-diagnosis for hypoxia signs
  • High-density-altitude landing at Taos
  • Stunning visuals on this leg!

Leg #5: “Taos, NM to Las Vegas, NV”

Distance: 459 nautical miles
Briefing: 14 Min
Flight: 1 hr, 37 min
Debriefing: 19 min


  • Engine runup (for leaning) results in seriously hot engine
  • High-density-altitude TAOS takeoff
  • Grand Canyon special flight rules
  • More stunning visuals
  • Potential diversion to Grand Canyon Airport in fading daylight
  • Contingency planning throughout due to night over terrain
  • Bravo clearance with negotiated higher altitude for safety
  • Flat tire for preceding aircraft causes last minute runway change
  • Confusion on taxi… “It’s not over until you’re at the ramp.”

Leg #6: “Las Vegas, NV to Los Angeles, CA”

Distance: 202 nautical miles
Briefing: 28 Min
Flight: 56 min
Debriefing: 9 min


  • Complex IFR route planning through busy airspace
  • Detailed IFR planning pays off
  • STAR into LAX
  • Complex combination of vectors and procedures
  • Rapid-fire ATC instructions – this frequency is hopping!
  • Top of descent planning to meet crossing restrictions
  • ATC referencing ILS-related fixes on a visual approach
  • 180 knot arrival at LAX assigned
  • LAX taxi: three runway crossings!
  • Flat tire shuts taxiway for 2 hours

Leg #7: “Los Angeles, CA to Carlsbad, CA”

Distance: 75 nautical miles
Briefing: 10 Min
Flight: 1 hr, 6 min
Debriefing: 11 min


  • Final leg on this amazing journey!
  • Challenging IFR departure; pilot-nav SID with vector
  • Delay due to flat tire, forces brief and file from airplane
  • SoCal TEC routes, including a re-route on the ground
  • LOC/DME approach for practice (glideslope is out on the ILS)
  • Negotiate a circle-to-land Runway 6 to avoid landing into sun
  • Short approach due to opposite-direction aircraft

New: Bonus Flights

Keith kept the cameras rolling when returning from California after shooting the original Real World Coast to Coast program.

Turns out some of the best stuff happened on the return flight, so we decided to add all of these videos to the program. In total, we added over 15 hours of new briefings, debriefs and flights.

The bonus flights are raw video, with very little editing. This gives them a different real-world feel that compliments the videos from the original trip nicely.

Bonus Flight #1: “Carlsbad, CA to San Jose, CA”

From/To: CRQ-RHV
Distance: 336 nautical miles
Briefing: 2 Min
Flight: 1 hr, 34min
Debriefing: 15 min


  • Departs hot and heavy over water
  • Weighs defying ATC heading for a safer route
  • Overflies LAX arrival corridors
  • Busy ATC makes comms challenging
  • Recovers from ATC comm issues
  • Lines up for landing at the wrong airport – and recovers

Bonus Flight #2: “San Jose, CA to San Carlos, CA”

From/To: RHV-SQL
Distance: 23 nautical miles
Flight: 21 min
Debriefing: 15 min


  • Negotiates custom route with ATC
  • Executes rapid-fire airspace handoffs
  • Navigates amidst busy Bay Area traffic at 200 knots

Bonus Flight #3: “San Carlos, CA to Shelter Cove, CA”

From/To: SQL-0Q5
Distance: 173 nautical miles
Briefing: 26 Min
Flight: 59 min
Debriefing: 24 min


  • Transitions the San Francisco Class Bravo airspace
  • Makes scenic fly-bys of Golden Gate Bridge and Buddhist temple
  • Lands at bucket-list airport

Bonus Flight #4: “Shelter Cove, CA to Elko, NV”

From/To: 0Q5-EKO
Distance: 382 nautical miles
Flight: 1 hr, 29min
Debriefing: 24 min


  • Rockets along the coastline at 100 feet AGL
  • Combines visuals with charts for safe mountain crossing
  • Files and activates VFR flight plan
  • Manages loss of ATC radar and communication

Bonus Flight #5: “Elko, NV to Denver, CO”

From/To: EKO-APA
Distance: 508 nautical miles
Briefing: 24 Min
Flight: 2 hr, 10 min
Debriefing: 8 min


  • Files and activates VFR flight plan
  • Maneuvers around terrain due to engine issues
  • Overflies many miles of fog—few emergency outs
  • Evades (and then endures) mountain turbulence
  • Decodes interesting pattern entry instructions
  • Debates over the active tower frequency

Bonus Flight #6: “Denver, CO to Hopkinsville, KY”

From/To: APA-HVC
Distance: 837 nautical miles
Briefing: 8 Min
Flight: 2 hr, 52min
Debriefing: 21 min


  • Works altitudes and winds for maximum range
  • Devises new plan mid-flight and diverts
  • Executes pop-up IFR clearance to reach destination

Bonus Flight #7: “Hopkinsville, KY to Washington, DC”

From/To: HVC-IAD
Distance: 490 nautical miles
Flight: 2 hr, 17 min
Debriefing: 21 min


  • Exercises VFR-on-top to shortcut routing
  • Climbs to 13,5000 above ice-laden clouds—no way down!
  • Makes emergency decent to VFR
  • Struggles to find airport in fading light and near-freezing precip
  • Handles mechanical issue on short final—at Dulles International

Bonus Flight #8: “Washington, DC to Frederick, MD”

From/To: IAD-FDK
Distance: 28 nautical miles
Briefing: 11 min
Flight: 24 min


  • Departs from Class B airport amidst the airliners
  • Crosses Washington D.C. special-use airspace
  • Enjoys a trouble-free landing at AOPA headquarters

Bonus Flight #9: “Frederick, MD to Lincoln Park, NJ”

From/To: FDK-N07
Distance: 168 nautical miles
Briefing: 11 min
Flight: 55 min


  • Short runway landing at Lincoln Park
  • Reflects on the entire Real World Coast to Coast Adventure during an “easy’ flight back home (into New York airspace)

Real World Coast to Coast Q&A

Q: How do I access the Real World Coast to Coast videos?
A: Your videos are available online via a secure, password-protected website. You can watch the videos on any device—Windows PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android. The website has a simple menu structure so you can easily find the segment you want to watch and start it with the click of a button.

Q: Will my online access ever expire?
A: No. Once you register your login credentials, they will never expire. You will always have access to the program. (We still provide online access to programs we initially offered in 2006.) You’ll also get the USB drives for backup.

Q: Can I download these files onto my iPad?
A: You can move the video files from the USB drive (if purchased) to your iPad using your computer and iTunes. We provide step-by-step directions. Of course, you can view the videos online on your iPad with an Internet connection, so the USB is optional.

Q: Can I access the videos from more than one computer or device?
A: Yes. With your login info, you can access the site from any device as often as you want.

Customer comment:

“I have been a fan of pilotworkshops offerings for several years but recently I purchased the coast to coast program. I am a 600 hour IFR pilot and I must say that this is the gold at the end of the rainbow for my needs. I completely needed exactly what this program offers. I so often wanted to follow other pilots from start to finish on trips like this, and now I can!”Edward J.
Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Optional: USB Flash Drive

    You may select a USB flash drive with your order which contains all the video files in MP4 format. These videos can be easily viewed on any computer or laptop, and can be imported onto an iPad so you can view them even if you are not online. A convenient and portable way to access the videos.

  • 90 Day Money-Back Guarantee!

    If you aren’t completely satisfied we’ll give you a full refund. No questions asked! has been a A+ rated member of the Better Business Bureau since 2006.

  • WINGS Approved!

    You can earn 6 WINGS credits for completing Real World Coast to Coast: 2 basic, 2 advanced and 2 master. A simple online form for requesting credit is included on the website.

  • AOPA Premier Partner

    PilotWorkshops is proud to support AOPA and its membership in their mission of advancing the growth and safety of general aviation. Your support helps.

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