Sunday, October 4, 2009

Catching up

I'm very much behind on logging flights, but I'm definitely not behind on flying. Lately I've been flying all over the place, mostly in one of my Piper Dakotas, or in one of my Cessna Citation X bizjets.

I've lost track of the places I've been, I'm afraid. I've been around Wickenburg and Phoenix a lot with one of the Dakotas (N9708W), then up to Sedona, down to Phoenix, up to Payson, and so on. Right now that Dakota is parked in Phoenix, after a flight up to Payson and back. The flight up to Payson was a bit awkward, as I ended up following I-17 at dusk, instead of Highway 87, and got way off track. The trip back down to Phoenix was easier, mainly because I decided to just make a beeline to PXR at 8500 instead of bothering with pilotage in the darkness.

I've been around a bit in another Dakota (N9706W), too, and it's currently parked in Van Nuys after a short trip from Santa Paula.

Most recent activity, though, has been in one of my Citations, N7446A. Eaglesoft came out with its much-awaited FMS update, and now the full FMS works in the aircraft. I've been flying my virtual family to and fro for several days.

For example, I picked up my parents at Montgomery, then flew them up to Van Nuys, where we met up with my aunt and uncle. From there it was off to Sin City—fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada—where we picked up another aunt and uncle. Then I flew them all down to Phoenix. The Citation is so amazingly fast that this was practical in just one day. I then flew the Citation to San Diego, picked up my sister and brother-in-law, and flew them to Phoenix as well. Then, last night, I flew everyone to Las Vegas (the Citation will hold eight passengers). So I've been putting a lot of hours on that airframe. There are still a few bugs in Eaglesoft's model, but for the most part it flies really well, and is a pleasure to pilot.

I tend to reserve the daylight hours for VFR flights, and evenings for IFR. Yesterday afternoon, I took one of my Cessna 152s back to Phoenix from Lake Havasu. Talk about contrast, after flying the Citation! I planned the shortest route I could, essentially east to Highway 93 and then down through Wickenburg and back to Phoenix … and it still took nearly 2 hours, at an exceptionally lame 80 knots. And with no autopilot I had to keep my eyes out the window and/or on the instruments. The few times I looked away to check a chart, by the time I looked back I was well into a slow left turn.

Then in the evening it was back to the Citation, for a trip to Las Vegas. That took only about 40 minutes, and went very smoothly. I sometimes reach 650 mph over the ground in the Citation—about seven times faster than the 152. Amazing that both aircraft were built by Cessna!

I have more trips in the Citation planned for the coming day or so, as I redistribute family members back to their homes. But during the day I plan some VFR and pilotage … I'm getting better at it all the time.