We had a couple of hours in a Beech Premier, but 2 hours in an airplane that scorches along at Mach 0.8 will take us to China! And we didn’t have our passports.
It was interesting to watch the crew work the autopilot, which certainly flew the airplane far more precisely than a human can.
That’s a bit important in an airplane that goes at Mach 0.8 — 80% of the speed of sound. As the SR-71 pilots say, you haven’t been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3.
As we were vectored north, we zipped by the approach end of runway 24, with the C-5 Expressway snaking on the lower left.
The par five fairway on the Bonifacio golf course is perfect for forced landings after an engine failure departing runway 06. Only three bunkers and no water. No need for a lifejacket!
We maneuvered a bit more, now banking 30-degrees at 300 knots indicated (Vmo is 320).
I’ve jumpseated in airline cockpits before, but I never get used to a pilot turning the airplane with a knob instead of a yoke or joystick. If not for the slight G-forces, it could have been a video game.
A minute later, over the Makati commercial and business district, I could see my apartment building, just past Paseo de Roxas.
That green triangle in the center is Ugarte Field. The small, low building there, now called Neilsen Tower, used to be the terminal of Nielsen Field, Manila’s first airport in the 1940s.
Paseo de Roxas, running up the photo from the bottom to the center, and Makati Avenue, the other diagonal border of Ugarte Field, used to be the runways.
That’s why those avenues are so straight and level.
In just a few minutes we were over Clark. We requested the ILS/DME approach to 20 Left, but as always the glideslope was out, and we re-briefed for the VOR approach. Even with all the avionics and FMC capability on board, the F/O, Eric B. still briefs the approach with a paper plate. Approach plate, that is.
This ensures that they know what to do even if the lights go out on the all-singing, all-dancing glass panel.
Runway clearly in sight at the MAP.
I used to fly this entirely by hand at 90 knots, in Omni Aviation’s Cessna 172 XP. It sure looks a lot easier to do it hands-off with the autopilot and flight director coupled.
The opposite extreme is what Airbus drivers call a “raw data hand-flown approach”. (They make it sound like something cavemen did to court cavewomen.)
Carlo and I had fun hand-flying the same approach in a Cessna 172 XP, below.
The Beech Premier sure is a jewel. Leather seats (the potty seat is plastic, yeah, I looked) and wood-grain everywhere.
It’s a great tool for business travel, cheaper than the airlines if you fill the seats or factor in executive time.
You can avoid overnight stays in hotels, if you plan your itinerary well.
Carlo looking almost prayerful here. You can stand up in this cabin.
Carlo and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There was no point in prolonging it, but we did experience a fast cruise, two instrument approaches, and watched a well-coordinated crew at work.
Thanks to Captains Eric Baylon and Wel Come! And Colin, the Prince Charming who donated an hour of Jet A-1 fuel for our ride in a Beech pumpkin! 😀
Posted from Bangkok, Nov 29, 2008
Postscript: A few days after our ride on the Beech Premier last June, Muslim militants in the Southern Philippines released two celebrated hostages. Journalist Ces Drilon and her cameraman were ferried back to Manila from Zamboanga in this same airplane. Thanks to Kevin for that tidbit.