Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Airbus A320 and King Air

The morning's ride out to the airport felt long and boring for once. I had just got back from England the previous evening with no time to unpack my stuff, and here I was already gone, in a train to Toulouse.
What made it feeling long was the excitement from the fact I was going to fly a King Air for the very first time today.

Two hours later, I was strapped on the jumpseat of an Airbus A320 on my way to Paris, where the King Air and its pilot were waiting for me.
My day was off to a very good start. As always, the view from the Airbus' flight deck was fantastic. I chatted with the Captain and realised he was registered at a flying club just next to where I used to live. Funny how Aviation is a small World...

Landed in Paris, short ride to an airfield nearby and that's where I met the beautiful and shiny King Air 90. Slight disappointment though, while I left Toulouse under a scattered sky in some decent temperature, it was -7°C in Paris with some very cold wind from the far North ... bringing in snow and frost all over.
Not surprised when we saw all that snow and ice on the Kingair's wings. Twenty freezing minutes of de-icing (by scratching pieces of paperboard along the trailing-edge) would have been enough.
As I walked in, I got a quick glimpse at the cabin, revealing two seats on the rear side of the cabin, one in front of the entrance door, and four well-sized seats facing each other just behind the flight deck. I found my way to the front end of the cabin, sat on the right hand seat and started looking at all the needles, switches, circuit breakers and levers around me... There's a lot more than on a Duchess, but clearly Beechcraft tried to keep the same philosophy on the cockpit layout of their aircraft.

Right and left engines started, breaks released and the tires were gently sliding onto the taxiway. With an ANR (Active Noise Reduction) headset on, the sudden hush brought a nice and quiet atmosphere as soon as we turned it on. It's a must-have luxurious device on those planes. It still couldn't completely muffle the roar as full take-off thrust was applied. The take-off in itself was a great moment, especially since this King Air has been fitted with more powerful engines and new four-blade props. Gear coming up, speed increasing to roughly 150 kts IAS, and off we went, following the SID (Standard Instrument Departure) back to the South of France. Cleared to FL210 (21,000ft), altitude armed and autopilot on alt/nav mode. Unfortunately, or lucky-me should I say, the autopilot started overcorrecting the off-track deviations, so we decided to disengage it and I manually flew the plane all the way until touchdown. 1:30 hours at 260 kts TAS enjoying a superb view.

Blue sky overhead and intensely bright, almost alone in the immensity of the sky, it was one of those moments ...
I'd love to show some pictures of the landscapes but clouds have interfered.

The Control vectored us to the ILS 28 at Carcassonne for a MVL (Manoeuvre a Vue Libre, literally Free Visual Manoeuvre or Circle-to-Land in English) on the opposite runway.
Centered on the runway localizer and glideslope beams, we came down at 140 kts until we broke through clouds around 1600ft. Off by 30° to the left, downwind, and early base as we wanted to avoid overflying the beautiful strengthened city. The flaps and gear came down for me, and I soothingly flew it down towards the runway threshold.
I taxied to our parking spot, not far behind a brand new Boeing 737-800, and I must say, I wouldn't mind flying one of those someday.

Airborne life continues...


Andrew said...

How is it that you get to ride the jumpseat so often??

Great Post! Good to see you've moved up in the world of Aviation


Skycaptain Marz said...

Great stuff! The King Air is one of my all time favorites. Must be different flying with turbines?

Golfcharlie232 said...

I travel a lot in Europe, and some of the countries here are fine with people flying in the jumpseat. If you own pilot licences and look friendly, there's a chance they let you in for the whole flight.

The King Air is a big step up from the Duchess. Twice as fast, much much more powerful, it also feels a lot heavier and bigger on the controls, a lot more stable, and .. more complex. A great joy to fly!

Alex M. said...

Hi there,
First of all thank you very much for sharing so much delightful information and experiences you have had. I am half English/half French by the way. Je me demandais si tu etait a l'universite Bucks New University, ou Kingston, parce que j'ai fait des demandes au deux, et je voulais avoir ton avis.

Merci encore,
Alex M.

Alex M. said...

Oh yeah, I saw you are at BCFT. Is there a reason you chose this flight school, and not for example Oxford Aviation Academy, or FTE Jerez?

Alex M. said...

Merci beaucoup pour ta reponse precise et rapide. Je viens de lire tout ton Blog tellement tu raconte tes experiences de maniere interessants. Tu est un peu un model pour moi, surtout ton voyage aux Etats-Unis avec tes 10600km! J'adorai faire la meme chose pendant 2 mois apres avoir passé mon PPL apres une 1ere annee a l'universite. Ca a l'air super bien ton voyage aux US. Je voulais savoir dans quel FTO aux USA tu a fait tes heures de vol. Et puis une derniere chose, est-ce que tu est proche d'un poste de Co-pilote? Parce que ton parcours semble assez complexe, mais surtout aventurier! Est-ce que tes debuts en France avec le planeur et les acrobaties t'on beaucoup aide dans ton apprentissage?

Golfcharlie232 said...

Sur le blog, tu vois l'aspect pratique de la chose. Le voyage aux US, enfin c'était meme pas vraiment un voyage, c'était part entiere de la formation, ca a mis des mois a mettre en place. Je n'étais pas dans une FTO mais un groupe de proprios qui louent leurs avions. Pour moi, hors de question de payer une fortune des avions d'écoles, je voulais de bons avions, bien équipés, dispos sur plusieurs jours, et a un prix correct. Mais fallait arriver la-bas avec déja de l'expérience, un PPL européen, une conversion FAA, etc ...
J'ai commencé les vols en France 7 ans avant de commencer la formation pilote pro. Ca aide, sans aucun doute. Apres, c'est une passion, j'ai mis les pieds la-dedans tout petit.
Pourquoi ne pas avoir commencé le PPL plus tot? En UK, tu as les Air Cadets, et les University Air Squadron. Si tu vas a l'université, tu devrais joindre ces groupes, l'occasion de voler gratuitement sur de chouettes avions/planeurs et de rencontrer du monde.
Une place de copi, ca peut mettre quelques semaines a plusieurs années (6 ou 7 ans est tout a fait courant), voire ne jamais arriver. Rien n'est gagné d'avance, et le fait d'avoir ses licences en main ne garrantit strictement rien.

Anonymous said...

Tu as ta QT BE90 ? Parce que ca ressemble a du TPP ces vols et en france ca me semble pas possible TPP monopilote... (ca m'interresse car je cherche ce genre de plan des que j'aurais fini mon irme)