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Location: Massachusetts, United States

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Playing the in the flight levels

One of the first things one notices when reading about the career pilot program I'm about to complete is a ride in a Citation 525. While mainly a means to earn high-altitude and high-performance endorsements, the flight is intended as a bit of a break for students and a chance to taste what could one day be: being at the controls of a jet.
After passing my initial, I flew myself from Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville for the ride, but ended up frustrated and grounded for three days waiting for scheduling matters to be resolved.
On Friday, however, dispatch gave me the green light and I boarded the Citation with much excitement and anticipation.

My flight partner went first, and flew the jet to Naples, FL, where we did a beautiful visual approach over the Gulf.

On the ground, I hopped into the right seat and under the patient and careful supervision of ATP's VP Jim prepared for an exhilerating experience.

On the runway, I held the brakes and advanced the throttles to 60% of N1, the fan stage of the engine. With all gauges in the green, Jim took the throttles to set take-off power while I released the brakes and kept the aircraft on centerline. Unlike other planes I've flown, the jet required only minor rudder input to remain centered. Jim called out V1, the speed at which we'd be committed to take-off no matter what, then Vr, at which point I pulled back on the yoke and followed the flight director's instructions.
We left the earth like a rocket ship and maintaining the correct pitch took a little getting used to, since an attitude like that would most likely stall the Seminole.
Jim called 400AGL and I replied by asking for flaps up, climb power and the after take-off checklist. A few thousand feet up, I engaged the autopilot to guide us up to FL220. On the way, Jim taught us about descent planning, which is essential to the proper and efficient operation of any aircraft but more particularly Jet-A guzzling jets.
The view from up there was amazing and the plane behaved superbly.
I set up for the LOC BC 25 at Orlando Executive and shot a pretty decent approach, especially baring in mind that this was my first time doing a back course. It was just another instrument approach with everything happening just a whole lot faster. It ended in a nice landing, with Jim helping me out on the controls.
From Orlando, I flew the Citation to Cecil. After take-off, I opted to handfly the plane instead of engaging the autopilot right away. We talked about high-altitude operations and too soon found ourselves close to Cecil where I did a visual.
It was sad to give up the right seat, but the experience will remain vividly etched in my memories.
Good times!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

AHH you're a jet pilot now!!!! AHH!!!!

-New EMB145 FO

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats man. Was it worth the wait? Beside Freight Dog I have been following you through your process. I am in the process of starting Flight Training.

11:56 AM  

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