We had a standing invitation to step through the looking glass into a sexy flying experience — our own private executive jet.
The airplane and crew had been on a productive flight that morning, and would be working again later that afternoon. Meanwhile, they were uncommitted for two hours. I was in town, Carlo wasn’t on a date. It was a perfect match. My own jet — for two hours.
It took Carlo twice as long to cover the distance, in his article on his first solo cross-country, that we would cover in this airplane.
What to wear on a business jet? Wingtip shoes? Would they let our grubby avgas-stained paws on a nice Jet A-1 limousine? Should we be haughty, humble, or humiliated?
Carlo decided to be Indiana Jones, complete with fedora and backpack. He cut a swashbuckling figure as he paused at the air stair door. But I’m getting ahead of the story.
Capt. Wel C., could not have extended a warmer welcome for us. He knew both Carlo and I were general aviation pilots, so he immediately took us on an inspection of a curvaceous beauty — the Beech Premier.
Pre-flight couldn’t have been simpler. There was a green “black box” in the tail — press a button, and the thing interrogates all the systems, including itself. Tell-tale lights report any glitches, and a test button tests the lights themselves.
The big dimple on the fuselage beside the engine isn’t the result of a collision with an Airbus or the use of forceps at birth. It’s part of the Premier’s area ruling. Aerodynamics says that the total area of a body is more critical than the shape when it comes to eliminating drag. Think golf ball.
The dimple creates more area and beats drag where it is worst — around the engine nacelles.
Engines?! They looked more like oversized garbage cans, they were so small!
Carlo and I looked at these compact pods, looked at each other, looked at the airplane, and thought exactly the same thing — these were miniature power plants for such a big airplane.
Our Cessna’s Lycoming was surely bigger than these blowtorches.
Being both REAL MAN pilots who fly airplanes with propellers, all Carlo and I cared about jet engines is that air went in one end and fire came out the other end.
Sort of like me when I’ve had too much murgh tandoori or Punjab curry.
Our best guess is that this is the fiery end.
The wing was even smaller. Our Cessna’s wing chord was surely wider than this! Heck, my bed is wider than this. And my bed lifts less bodies!
I remember the World War II B-26 Marauder had such small wings it was called the “Baltimore Whore” (no visible means of support).
One thing that wasn’t small was the fuse. Like many business jets, the Premier’s wing spar runs under the fuselage, which makes for a lot of cabin room.
And Beech made a special effort to enhance that extra room, using efficient paneling and light colors. You can stand inside this airplane!
One more photo op, and we are off.
On board! Lots of impressive annunciator lights on the displays, just like my Toyota hybrid.
Engine start could not be simpler. Move the engine condition lever, and the engines light off. It takes more effort to light a cigar.
The Williams engines have an electronic control that acts like FADEC, except that it is single channel with a mechanical backup.
The system manages all the constraints on engine performance, from start up to shutdown. You couldn’t break the engines if you tried.
The plan was to fly to Clark and let the crew shoot a couple of approaches, so that the flight would not be a blatant joyride. Other than that, the carriage was ours until it turned into a pumpkin.
Lined up runway 31 at Manila. Carlo and I had a clear view out the windshield. No locked cockpit doors on this aluminum cream puff with twin blowtorches — Carlo and I were of course ready to take over in case the crew had eaten poisoned tuna sandwiches. We even had our “Single Engine, Land” pilots’ licenses!
The FMCs were ready to take commands. The blinking lights were off. The leather seats caressed our skin, the drinks cabinet was on line. We were cleared on runway heading to 3,000.
To be concluded on the next post. Mach numbers!
Posted in Phuket, November 27, 2008