A very short repositioning flight in the Cessna Citation Mustang from the St. Louis Lambert Airport to the Spirit of St. Louis Airport. As I taxi onto the runway for takeoff, the airport diagram is displayed on the MFD for easy reference. Once On the runway the synthetic vision shows the runway and center line stripes on the pilot Flight Display. This is so accurate that our position several feet right of the center line as seen through the windshield is accurately displayed on the PFD. The takeoff is on runway 30R and the landing at Spirit Airport is on runway 8R. Straight line distance between the two airports is only 15 nautical miles which makes for a very busy single pilot trip. As soon as I level off, ATC confirms I have Spirit in sight and I’m cleared for the visual to 8R. This was a Saturday afternoon so there isn’t much ATC radio traffic.
“Sentimental Journey” is a beautifully restored Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress. Operated by the Commemorative Air Force in Mesa Arizona and it’s been a favorite at airshows around the country. At airshows she attends, guest can purchase rides or take a tour through the aircraft. Classified as a heavy bomber by the Army Air Force during World War II the G model of the B-17 can be easily identified by its distinctive remotely operated chin turret. Over 8,600 B-17G’s were built during the 2nd world war. This one was built by the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1944 and upon completion was assigned to the pacific theater of operations. For several years after the war it was a photo reconnaissance aircraft in the pacific. It was then converted to a remotely operated drone for monitoring of A-bomb testing in the pacific Atolls. Afterwards, it ended its military career and was retired to Davis Monthan air force base for salvage. Before being scraped, it was purchased by a private company, converted into a water tanker and started a new career as a fire bomber. In 1978 she was donated to the Commemorative Air Force in Mesa Arizona. They restored it to its original B-17G configuration and the restoration project was completed in 1985. Instead of OD green paint it was given a bare aluminum finish. The nose was painted with a pinup of Betty Grable and the aircraft was named “Sentimental Journey”. To see where “Sentimental Journey” is today, go to flightaware.com and type in her registration N9323Z.
Boeing B-17G Specifications:
Crew of 10
Armament 13 .50 caliber Browning M-2 machine guns
Maximum bomb load 8,000 lbs
Powered by four Wright Cyclone R-1820-97 supercharged radial engines 1,200 horse power each
TAS at 25,000 ft. 287 mph
Maximum takeoff weight 64,500 lbs.
Service ceiling 35,600 ft.
Range 3,750 miles with Bomb bay tanks
Fuel 2,780 gallons/burn 200 gal hour
A year of charter and corporate flying in the Cessna Citation Encore, Citation II, Citation Mustang. Citation Excel and the beechcraft King Air 350. This is a representative video of a year of flying with cockpit views of takeoffs and landings.
The Pima Air and Space museum has over 300 aircraft on display at its 120-acre campus in Tucson, Arizona. One of the world’s largest aviation museums, Pima is also the world’s largest privately funded aviation museum. It receives no government funding and much of the restoration work is done by volunteers. It is located adjacent to Davis Monthan Air Force Base which is home to the 309th Aerospace maintenance regeneration group (AMARG). Davis-Monthan is the world’s largest aircraft restoration and storage center and the only aircraft storage center for the US Government. It is also home to over eighty A-10 Thunderbolts (Warthog) ground attack aircraft. During our visit it seemed like every five minutes another flight of A-10s made the pattern and passed over the museum. As an aviation enthusiast this actually added to the experience.
At Pima, docent-led walking and tram tours are available. The tram tour takes about an hour and was well worth the six dollar ticket. Docents are retired aviators and well versed in the history and facts surrounding these aircraft. Our guide was a retired Air Force pilot who had actually flown one of the aircraft on display. A few of the aircraft you’ll see are an SR-71 Blackbird, Convair B-36 Peacemaker, B-52 Stratofortress, and a Convair B-58 hustler.
To see the Davis-Monthan “boneyard” a guided bus tour is available. For seven dollars this tour takes visitors from the Pima Museum for an hour long tour in the “boneyard”. The tour takes you through an active Air Force base therefore visitors are required to have a government issued picture ID. Approximately 4,000 aircraft are in storage here. Most are either in storage for use at a later time, waiting to be recycled, or providing parts to aircraft that are currently being used. On the tour you can see row after row of once front line aircraft that for one reason or another are being slowly disassembled to keep other aircraft flying. One thing that stands out is the vinyl covering that’s used to cover the cockpits and other areas of the aircraft. This is done to reflect the sun and keep the temperature in the aircraft lower to protect its more sensitive components. If you have the time both tours are well worth doing and a fantastic deal for the price.
N288FE a FedEx Boeing 727-200 cargo jet named Michelle, is stuck in the mud at Cahokia Airport. This retired three engine cargo jet, built in 1979 was first operated by Ozark Airlines, then Pan Am, and eventually was converted to a freight hauler and operated by Federal Express. When fedEx retired it from service in May of 2013 they donated it to the St Louis Downtown Cahokia Airport for Fire Fighter training. Its final flight was to CPS where it was left by its three man crew. Later, as it was being towed to the northwest corner of the airport, it sank into a muddy field. At an empty weight of 98,400 lbs the soft ground it was being moved on to could not support the aircraft weight. It came to rest with the main landing gear sunk in the field and the nose gear resting on a city street. In the video A hawk is perched on one of the main wheels seemingly assessing the fate of this poor old bird. A week later and after some digging, the wheels of this airplane were pushed on to sheets of plywood and it was pushed further into the field to clear the road. Boeing built 1,831 of these aircraft which served as both passenger and cargo jets.
N288FE Boeing 727-2D4
Power Plant 3 Pratt and Whitney JT8D-15 engines
15,500 lbs Thrust each
Maximum Takeoff Weight 184,800 lbs
Empty Weight 98,400 lbs
Maximum Fuel Capacity 8,090 gal
Maximum range 1,700 nm
Maximum Cruise speed 0.9 Mach
Service ceiling 42,000 feet
Length 153 ft 2 in
Wing Span 108 feet
A Beechcraft King Air 350 takeoff on runway 25 at Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), Colorado. Also known as the Eagle/Vail airport it’s ranked number eight on the History Channel’s show Most Extreme Airports. The factors that placed Eagle on this list are a higher elevation of 6,540 feet, steeply rising mountainous terrain on all sides, downhill sloping runway, unpredictable weather and challenging approach and departure procedures. All of these factors make Eagle a very challenging airport for both experienced and novice aviators. On a cold clear day Eagle is a joy to fly into, the sweeping mountain vistas are breathtaking. Unfortunately, add a little weather or loose an engine on a hot day and this airport is suddenly not the fun lunch stop you planned on. Due to the mountains the approaches have what at first seem like fairly high minimums of 3 miles and 1,790 feet. But don’t forget if a snow squall suddenly blooms over the mountain, the runway can disappear in an instant. Ask yourself what if I lose an engine after doing a missed approach or on the departure procedure. Can my aircraft maintain the required 13% climb gradient required to climb to a safe altitude. Mountain flying can be greatly rewarding, just be sure you check your aircraft’s single engine climb performance or get some instruction in mountain flying before flying into your first mountain airport.
Flying at night has its own rewards and challenges. On a clear winter night the view can be spectacular. At other times darkness and restricted visibility can increase pilot workload or cause disorientation. On this night we were treated to a spectacular view of Nashville Tennessee. Unfortunately video doesn’t capture the beauty that many pilots are treated to in the thin cold air at flight levels or flying over city lights on a clear winter night. This night we approached Nashville from the west just as the first bands of pink broke on the horizon. While on a wide downwind on the north side of the field Nashville approach cleared for the visual approach to runway 31. This route takes you over a large unlighted area to the east of the field which in the dark appears as a large void. The void is actually the J Percy Priest Reservoir. During night flights especially in poor visibility it’s easy to get disoriented or lose track of how high you are above the ground. In order to ensure adequate ground clearance the aircraft is flown at a minimum safe altitude(MSA) till its flight path intersects with a Visual approach slope indicator (VASI) or electronic glide path. This ensures that the airplane maintains a safe obstacle free flight all the way to the surface of the runway. On this flight there wasn’t a VASI so the ILS was used to back up the visual approach for terrain clearance. An ILS provides an electronic vertical path to the runway which displays on the pilots attitude indicator. Unfortunately, Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) accidents while avoidable have been happening since the dawn of powered flight. The FAA places great importance in CFIT training for pilots which is reflected in the training at pilot training centers Like FlightSafety. The best way to avoid CFIT is training, standard procedures, and good situational awareness.
Flying a private jet doesn’t mean you’re totally isolated from the airline world. At larger airports General aviation service providers, called FBO’s or Fixed Based Operators provide a variety of services to arriving and departing private aircraft. FBOs may occupy one side of the field and the airline terminal the other. At smaller airports these FBOs are often the only business selling services such as fuel, maintenance, or hanger space. Even though they may be operating on the same airport, for security reasons, private aircraft are not allowed to pick up or drop off passengers at the airline terminal. But, you may see an airliner like a Boeing 737 or an Airbus 320 in airline colors parked on the general aviation ramp. This often happens when extra space is needed for parking or the airline may be doing a special charter like flying a sports team. Often FBOs will drive passengers from private flights to the terminal or back. If an aircraft is going to be on the ground for an extended period or needs to be picked up from a service center, pilots need to be repositioned. In these cases the company will buy airline tickets for the repositioning crew. All of the video from inside 737s was taken during crew repositioning flights. Many of the airline takeoffs and landings in this video were taken from general aviation ramps. Takeoff and landing by various airliners.
One of the best places in the world to watch planes land is on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean. St. Martin is a 35 square mile area island with mountains in the center and beautiful white sand beaches at the water’s edge. The northern half of the island is owned by France and called Saint Martin. The south side is part of the kingdom of the Netherlands. The Dutch call it Sint Maarten. This beautiful island is served by Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) on the Dutch side. Princess Juliana is without a doubt the best place in the world to watch airplanes land and the best place to set up for fantastic pictures of the world’s largest airliners landing is the sunset Beach Bar and Grill on Maho Beach.
Boeing 747’s and the Airbus 380 cross Maho Beach at approximately 50 feet over sunbathers and swimmers for some fantastic aviation photo opportunities. The landing runway, runway 10, is only 7,150 feet long and the touchdown area is only a short distance from the ocean waves. On the departure end of the runway is Pic Paradis, a 1,390 feet high mountain that departing aircraft must avoid with a sharp right turn after takeoff. Water on one end and mountains on the other end of this short runway is what places Princess Juliana airport on the list of the world’s most dangerous or extreme airports. Pictures and video from this spot often surprise viewers with how close people are to these flying behemoths crossing the beach. These pictures are recognizable across the world. The other shocking images are of tourist and sunbathers hanging on the airport fence just behind departing jets as pilots hold the brakes and throttle up the engines for the short run down the runway. Tourists hold on for dear life while being pounded by hot blast from jet engines. With the larger airliners this can or will lift them off the ground as they cling to the fence. Unfortunately this can be a very dangerous sport. A few misfortunate fence riders have been severely injured by jet blast. If you make it to St. Martin make sure you spend some time on Maho Beach and don’t forget your camera.
US Airways Boeing 757 landing St martin
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four engine bomber with a crew of 10 that the Army Air force flew during the Second World War. Used primarily during the European air war, the B-17 could carry up to 8,000 lbs of bombs and with a reduced bomb load had a maximum range of 2,000 miles. Its four Wright R-1820-97 Cyclone turbo supercharged radial engines produced 1,200 horsepower each. Its max speed is 287 mph and it has a service ceiling of 35,600 ft. Named the flying fortress it was heavily armed with 13 .50 cal M2 machine guns. The top instrument panel is from N390TH “liberty Belle” a B-17G which was lost on June 13,2011 just outside Aurora Illinois. “Liberty Belle had just departed Aurora when a fire broke out in the number 2 engine. Unable to extinguish the fire the crew made a forced landing in a farmer’s field and the ensuing fire destroyed the aircraft. Fortunately, all aboard made it out safely and no one was injured. The second instrument panel is from N3509G a B-17G named “Miss Angela”. The Palm Springs Air Museum is home for “Miss Angela”. Both aircraft are g models which have the twin .50 cal. chin turrets built into the lower nose. Boeing built over 8,600 B-17G’s and only twelve of these are still flyable.