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...