I was at the controls of the Cessna Citation Mustang, a six-seat VLJ. (Yeah!)
Rod Rakic of www.mytransponder.com has done yeoman's work in coordinating media flight opportunities for new-media folks like me. I got the call while en route from Detroit, dropped my stuff at Camp Scholler, and then headed for Appleton to fly.
Certainly there will be a longer and more in-depth post when I get more time, but the basic flight profile was departure from Outagamie County Regional Airport (KATW), fly north toward Iron Mountain, Michigan, maneuver on the way back, and then land back at KATW.
Those who know me know that I'm an approx. 270-hour private pilot, ASEL, AMEL, ASES, IA and I have a type rating (SIC) in the DC-3. Lots of different experiences, but not a lot of time. Stick and rudder skills that are competent, but hard-won through labor as opposed to native skill.
I was a little taken aback to learn that I was going to do most of the flying, but, then again, I'd heard a lot about the ease of operation of this aircraft.
The Mustang is outfitted with a full Garmin G1000 implementation with a large MFD in the middle of the panel. Each pilot has hisor her own 10" PFD in front of him. Having just checked out in the CAP C-182T Nav III, the G1000 was fresh in my mind, even though the implementation was a little different in the Mustang.
We loaded in the flight profile and the idea was to hand-fly the aircraft with reference to the flight director.
I did the takeoff. Full power, keep it in the centerline, and wait for Vr to come up on the airspeed tape. Then a little pull and you're climbing like a bat out of hell. We went initially to 3,ooo. The flight director told me where to put the nose and the wings and the airplane made it easy to do so. I trimmed frequently and she flew with great stability.
I had the opportunity to, for the first time, set the altimeter to 29.92 upon passing FL180. I turned to the folks in back and uttered a "gentlemen, welcome to the Alpha."
The aircraft flew beautifully in cruise. I engaged the autopilot and had the chance to look out the window a little and survey the panel. A familiar view up there in airline territory when I looked out the side window, but wholly unfamiliar and giddy to look out the front window at that altitude. From the left seat. (Another "Yeah!")
Then came the maneuvers. We turned back toward KATW and got a block altitude 14,000 to 16,000. Steep turns left, right, and back left at 45 degrees. I wasn't used to the control forces, so I got a little high and/or low, but held the bank altitude well.
Then came the stalls. It's really amazing how similar the stalls are in most respects to a C-182. The first one was at cruise power or thereabouts straight ahead. First the gear horn. Then the stall horn as the AOA-indicator-driven donut marched up the tape. With a chest full of yoke and the stall horn going off, things got mushy, then the buffet, then the stall. Very smooth and very predictable.
The only difference was that then, as a conditioned piston-single driver, I firewalled the throttles, the engines too awhile to spool up and give me the power to which I'm accustomed. But pitch alone really seemed to take care of the stall.
Then a power-off stall in a 20-degree right turn. Same thing. Predictable entry and good recovery, but again with me firewalling the throttles.
We did another one straight ahead with the throttles at idle the entire time, recovering with pitch only. That was graceful and gave a positive recovery experience.
The landing was smooth. I've recently had the insecurities about landing that any C-172 driver experiences when he transitions to a C-182 (a little more nose-heavy than you're used to and with a little more momentum and a little more sink rate than you're used to). So I had a little trepidation about flying an even larger aircraft - and a jet to boot.
I needn't have worried. I had it at 110 KIAS on short final like the airspeed tape was painted on. Yeah, I did a good job, but the airplane made it easy. Touchdown was just like a C-172 in terms of sight picture (other than being a little higher in the saddle and things moving a little faster) and I greased it on. Lowered the nose to the pavement and turned off. A really positive experience.
The key story here is that a relatively low-time instrument pilot with some multi time who's handy with the G1000 can fly this airplane reasonably well the first time out. And, with factory training and the right attitude, could easily operate this airplane on a regular basis.
And the ultimate judge of my performance? My seven-year-old son, Cole, was in the back and gave me the thumbs-up at the end. I presented him with his own logbook and entered the flight. Sure, it won't count toward a rating, but now he has a tangible reminder of the first time dad flew him.
Thanks to Cessna for a great experience on this flight. Can't wait to edit the video and audio down and get an episode out!