A 10 minute repositioning flight in a Cessna Citation Encore from Flagstaff Arizona to the Sedona Airport (KSEZ). It’s a beautiful clear day but the winds are very gusty. The Sedona airport can be a very challenging airport to fly into. Field elevation is 4,827 ft., the runway is 5,132 ft in length and runway 3 has a 1.8% up hill gradient. Add to this high temperatures or unfavorable winds and normal takeoff distances can be dramatically increased. In some cases you may need to leave fuel behind or wait for more favorable conditions before departing. This airport sits on a mesa that rises 500 ft. above the town of Sedona and is surrounded by an other worldly landscape that has to be seen to be believed. The draw back to this incredible vista is that it’s composed mostly of rapidly rising terrain. When winds pickup from the southwest treacherous downdrafts can be expected northeast of the approach end of runway 21. Unfortunately, a series of fatal accidents have occurred over the years at this airport. But, with a little preparation this airport is worth flying into just for the experience of being there. Just make sure to check your aircraft performance charts before departing. Before you leave, stop by the Mesa Grill next to the runway, it has excellent food.
During the climb out we get a good aerial view of the St Louis Lambert Airport and end the trip with a cockpit view of our landing at Iowa City Airport. In the descent, it’s a little bumpy due to summer thermals and as we turn into the sun for our landing on runway 25 the haze seems to reduce the visibility by half. This trip was flown in a 1974 Citation 500 that had much of the original avionics in the panel. The 500 was the original light business jet and this one was still running on steam gauges. It had no thrust reversers or anti-skid and was equipped with an emergency drag chute.
This aircraft was definitely old school, but sometimes that’s what it takes to get the job done. The Drag chute release was on the floor between the pilots. When the pilot pulled it up to arm the chute for landing it looked like he was applying a large automotive hand brake. In the possible event off brake failure, the pilot could deploy the drag chute and bring the aircraft to a stop. the drag chute eventually disappeared from later citations. The Citation 500 was the first of the straight wing Citations built by the Cessna aircraft corporation. It was designed to compete not against the faster Lear jets but in the rapidly expanding business turboprop market. With a maximum takeoff weight of 11,500 lbs., a straight wing and turbo fan engines it could operate out of smaller airports and was much more fuel efficient than other corporate jets.
The down side was that it lived up to its nickname of the “slowtation”. With a cruise speed of 345 knots, It was over 100 kts slower than the Leer Jet. The 500 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney JT15D-1 turbofan engines that produce 2,200 lbs. of thrust each. It has a range of 1,250 nm and a maximum altitude of 35,000 ft. The 500 was only in production for five years then Cessna added thrust reversers, lengthened the wings and renamed it the Citation I.
A pre-dawn arrival and landing in a Cessna Citation Mustang at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. O’Hare is the world’s 2nd busiest airport and flying single pilot in this airspace can be a challenging experience. I arrived before 6:00 am so avoided the peak traffic times but even so, approach was very busy with airline traffic entering the terminal area. This was evident by the high number of ATC radio calls and the approach controllers request to maintain a higher than normal speed to the marker. No problem for the Mustang, which can slow rapidly. There’s no speed limit on the speed brakes and the gear extension speed is 250 Knots. Pull the throttles to idle, extend the speed brakes, drop the gear and your decelerating towards the outer marker like you just dropped anchor. In the center of the instrument panel on the Multi-Function Display (MFD) you can see how helpful the G1000 moving map display is for situational awareness. On the flight plan page I flip through various approaches to 27L and select and load the 27L ILs approach. With all the city lights on the ground it can be very difficult to visually identify and maintain the landing runway. The course line and all the approach fixes are presented on the MFD map and greatly aid in identifying the airport and the runway. More than one seasoned pilot has started his turn towards the airport and rolled out on the wrong runway. Once cleared for the visual approach the map display is great for confirming you’re on the correct course to the assigned runway. The lighting on runway 27L consist of an ALSF2 Approach Light System leading to the runway, a 4 light PAPI Precision Approach Path Indicator to the right of the runway for visually maintaining the glide path, and at the far end of the runway the pulsing white lights across the runway are hold short lights for use in land And Hold Short Operations LAHSO. Unfortunately, with an early morning summer takeoff I picked up lots of bug splats on the windshield which are visible in the video.
A Cessna Citation 510 landing on runway 26L at Spirit of St Louis Airport. The Citation Mustang is a single pilot light jet with a fairly low landing ref speeds. For this landing the aircraft was at a weight of 7,500 lbs., the ref speed was 91 kts and the required landing distance was only 2,380 ft. The maximum landing weight is 8,000 lbs. In the video it was a little bumpy on final and you can see that the pitch tends to vary a little more than it does on other aircraft. I think this may be due to the relatively short coupling of the wing and fuselage and would probably be more noticeable to pilots transitioning to the mustang from larger aircraft. Over all, the Mustang has the feel of a sports car and is a good short field performer. Here are a couple of takeoff performance examples at the maximum takeoff weight and high temperature.
Max takeoff weight of 8,645 lbs and Flaps-15
Airport elevation sea level, no wind and temperature +40C
Takeoff distance required is 4,440 ft
Max takeoff weight of 8,645 lbs and Flaps-15
Airport elevation of 5,000 ft., no wind and temperature +20C
Takeoff distance required is 5,020 ft
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.
A short video made with a friends go pro camera of a steep turn in the Cessna Citation Mustang and a wide angle view of the cockpit. After practicing a couple of turns we head west to Wichita for a check ride in the Mustang.
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.
A Cessna Citation II landing on runway 17C at Dallas DFW. This video has lots of Air Traffic Control communications. After checking in with Dallas approach the radio traffic is pretty much nonstop till aircraft shutdown.
Cockpit view of a Beechcraft King Air 350 departing Tri-Cities Regional Airport on a stormy day.