Merry Christmas everyone!
The King Air 90 was standing proudly on the empty airpron tonight. The captain and I preflighted her in the cold winter wind while discussing the weather in Paris. The last few days have been quite snowy with icing conditions and they had to close a lot of major airports in Western Europe. Tonight however was forecast to be clear and cold but snow patches remained on some taxiways and on the runways' edges.
The two PT6 turbines came to life in the silent evening.
I took the controls shortly after take-off until we established in cruise.
We left Carcassonne (South of France) following the SID (Standard Instrument Departure) GAI2W, initially towards Charlie Sierra, the airfield beacon, then turning Northbound heading to the GAI VOR after 14 nm. Further on the way, the control cleared us direct TUDRA.
Although the past few days have been really snowy, today was superbly clear and smooth all around and the visibility was surely above 100 miles.
Toulouse, birthplace of Airbus and ATR, passed under our left wing.
The altitude warning broke the calm atmosphere of the night as we passed 21,000ft, alerting us we had 1000 more feet to go to the selected altitude.
Doing 265 kts TAS (True Airspeed), almost 50 kts of head wind at this level, we entered central France. Darkness suddenly became quite apparent.
At 22,000ft, the ride was glassy smooth.
In the middle of the night, talking helps us to stay awake. The captain, a former long haul airline pilot, has a lot to share. For me, as a young and unexperienced pilot, this is like a dream.
I have ambitions for my carrier, but nothing is easy in the Aviation World. Also, things usually don't go as planned, and this can actually happen to be a good thing sometimes.
You often wonder how you ended up here? What path and decisions did you take to make things like they are? I certainly wouldn't have believe a few months ago I'd be flying a King Air today...
As we approached Paris, shining reflections from the city lights started to appear on the flight deck, and the view outside became simply mesmerizing.
We loaded the approach for the ILS runway 07 via BALOD.
I gazed amazed at the beautiful city, the Eiffel Tower and the skyscrapers forming the business district of La Defense. Departing the group of buildings is one of the main and most famous streets in Paris, the Avenue Charles de Gaulle, leading to the Arc de Triumphe and coming out the other side as Les Champs Elysees. If you have a close look at the pictures below, you should be able to spot all the famous landmarks.
The ATC cleared us for the approach and I got back on the controls, capturing the Localizer above 10,000ft and the Glide Path at 9000 ft.
Still doing just under 200 kts IAS and established on final runway 07 at Le Bourget (Paris executive airport), we passed abeam Les Champs Elysees. I rushed to grab my camera and get a few shots.
I got the runway in sight ahead of us. The captain selected the decision Altitude on the radalt and took care of the thrust and props levers for me.
Altitude came down and the radalt computer announced out loud "500", and seconds later "minimums" as we reached DA (Decision Altitude).
The threshold passed beneath us and the Captain slowly retarded the throttles as I flared the King Air. The tires touched down gently. No need to apply the reverses as the runway wasn't completely clear of snow and we were asked to vacate at the far end, 3000m (10,000ft) further down the long strip of concrete. We crossed runway 09 to slip into the main ‘avenue’ of FBOs and aircraft operators at Le Bourget. Parked between a Learjet and another Kingair, we shut down the two engines, bringing us back to the silent evening, but even colder this time. This is Paris...
Airborne life continues…