You would think we would be over the thrill that comes with flying a new aircraft. But the excitement Martha and I felt recently from learning to fly the Citation Mustang demonstrated that when it comes to flying, we still have the childlike enthusiasm of beginners.
To a pilot with a piston-powered background like us, there is no greater thrill than transitioning to a new jet. To us, jets will always be special. You are flooded with excitement and sensations—the thrill of hearing a jet engine wind up on engine start, so full of promise—the semi-sweet smell of jet fuel—the exhilaration of hearing jet engines follow you wherever you go—and the power, oh so much power and all at the command of your right hand.
Along with this excitement comes the pleasant discovery of new concepts, a new flight environment and elegant systems that provide a whole new level of comfort and safety.
As you know, many jets require two pilots, but the Citation Mustang is certificated to be flown single pilot. It is a personal airplane, just the way a Cessna Corvalis or a Cirrus is a personal airplane. It is a jet that evokes dreams of the freedom of getting in whenever you want and jetting off into the blue.
Before you can fulfill that dream, you have to demonstrate the ability to fly single pilot by taking a checkride and earning the C510S type rating. It would seem that should be slam-dunk for us—we have been flying jets for over 24 years. But getting that single-pilot type rating wasn’t all that easy for us. Our jet flying has always been in a two-crew environment. We have shared the workload and always had someone to look out for our mistakes.
Martha and I each rode along in the right seat of the simulator while the other was in the left, but since we were going for our single pilot ratings, we weren’t supposed to help out the other pilot. For me of course, sitting in the right seat and keeping my mouth shut was probably the hardest part of the training.
As when flying any aircraft single-pilot IFR, the challenge is to use periods when you are not busy, to get ahead of things to relieve the workload during periods when you will be busy—all the while using all your resources to maintain situational awareness.
The G1000 and the GFC-700 autopilot in the Mustang are fabulous tools for doing all of that. But it really pays to be sharp at using the G1000. (King Schools’ course on the G1000 can be a great help here. It includes a built-in procedures trainer.)
The other thing that can help out a lot is knowing how jets behave compared to piston aircraft. Among other things, the throttle response is different and you don’t have the benefit of propellers to create instant lift or drag when you need them. (You might want to take a look at King Schools’ Jet Transition Course.)
In our opinion, if you are dreaming of flying your own jet, you should get your type rating first. Martha and I have gotten great pleasure from learning to fly each jet we have flown, and confirmed in two cases that we did want to buy the aircraft…and in another case decided we did not want to buy the aircraft.
By the way, you’ll want to know that we are finishing up the production of our new course, “Flying the Citation Mustang—Single Pilot.” It leverages our own recent learning experience and will make your dream of flying a jet even more vivid.
UPDATE: We just posted a video preview of our upcoming course on flying the Citation Mustang.