It’s always fun to expand your piloting horizons by getting into a new type of airplane or aircraft. The experience and challenge will make you a better pilot. I had the wonderful opportunity to learn from the experts at Angel City Flyers and make the transition to the Cessna Citation Mustang jet and earn a second-in-command type rating.
My instructor, Leo, led me through an intensive one-on-one two day course. We started the morning with ground school and covered a wide range of topics - performance, weight and balance, aircraft systems, and crew resource management. In the afternoon, it was hands-on in the amazing Redbird CE-510 simulator. There, I was able to go through the checklists and learn switch-by-switch the intricacies of flying the Mustang. I felt like I was taking forever to go through the checklists and finding certain switches and knobs, but thankfully, that was to be expected and Leo was patient. We flew from Long Beach to French Valley Airport, the same route that I would get to fly in the actual airplane on day two. The Mustang is by far the fastest airplane I’ve ever flown and at first it was difficult to get my brain to speed up and think as fast as I was flying in this unfamiliar aircraft. The sim has a pause button and Leo would use it a few times during the flight to allow me to ask questions and verify that the checklists and avionics were correct.
The time spent in the classroom and simulator on Day One made Day Two much less intimidating. I learned a lot during our walk around and thorough preflight of the airplane. It was so cool to be flying a jet! It was also a bit of silly joy to be able to practice radio calls using flight level altitudes (“like the pros”). On the second leg of our flight we practiced emergency procedures and an engine failure. I was amazed at how smooth the airplane continued to fly on just one strong engine. I also expected more of a fight with the airplane due to asymmetrical thrust, but I never had to fight it; it’s a smooth flying airplane.
After training to use the checklists and setting the flight display, flight plan, and auto pilot, it was actually easy to fly. It was more about accurate programming, staying ahead of the airplane and its automation and being prepared to handle any situation outside of the norm. I liked being in that mindset and loved the new challenge.