Too Much For Me?
Flying|March 2018

A NEW AIRPLANE COMES ATTACHED WITHA FINANCIAL LEARNING CURVE

Dick Karl

SOMETIMES IT IS HARD TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING CAREFULLY AGGRESSIVE, AS IN CONFIDENTLY ON THE HUNT, AND BEING FOOLISH.

No matter how rewarding and clean and bright it feels to say, “I’m going for it,” there is always a nagging doubt that maybe, just maybe, this is nuts.

So it has been for me since my wife and I bought the airplane of my 50 years of flying dreams, a Beech Premier 1. Fast and beautiful, sexy and risky, this airplane has left me wondering: Did I bite off more than I can chew?

Getting typed in the actual airplane was my first misstep, as chronicled in a previous dispatch. Once the RA-390 type certificate was in my pocket, we were limited to short trips at or below Flight Level 280. The altitude was restricted until the RVSM letter of authorization was in hand, and the trip lengths were short because the Premier is a drinking fool down low. Without being able to climb to Flight Level 410, we were pretty much looking at legs of about two hours.

Once we got the LOA, I was ready for some serious jet flying. On our first excursion above FL 290, on a trip from Lebanon, New Hampshire (KLEB) to Georgetown, Delaware (KGED), I was surprised and dismayed to see the master caution light flash and the “roll fail” and “speedbrake fail” lights come on the annunciator panel. This had happened once in training and was ascribed to the airplane’s lengthy dormancy while in pre-buy. When I saw it happen again, I knew we were in for some maintenance “follies.”

I dragged out the checklist, though I am pretty sure I could have recited it by heart. The speed above 15,000 feet is restricted to Mach 0.64, and the airplane is to be landed without flaps. This, in turn, dictates approach speeds 20 knots faster than ref and landing distance 60 percent greater than usual.

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