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Kicking the Tires & Lighting the Fires!

©Jim Trusty 2011

In the transition from piston and turbine to jets, are you ready to go to work for the “biggies” or maybe just buy your own jet airplane? You certainly can!

Unless you came to your aviation job directly from the military, you have probably paid your dues, and dearly, to reach this level of flying. I’ve met some great aviators who never flew pistons and turbines, but they sure could maneuver a jet. If your last job was over a certain desert region way over yonder, the biggest problem you are going to have is flying at less than Mach 2 and not engaging every other airplane that you encounter on your assigned route. The industry is certainly looking for that maturity on your part as a pilot and a team member. No one wants to look at the left seat and worry about your capabilities and experience level as you roll past V-1.

At what point in your dreams did you see yourself flying for the “biggies”? If you are like most of us, it was the first time you saw an airliner; all those people, all that shiny metal, those great big engines, and all that responsibility on the shoulders of one person, the pilot in command. At that moment, at least in our dreams, we were at the yoke of that big beautiful machine as it rolled down the runway destined to land at some faraway destination. From that dream to actuality is what we are going to discuss because it is the trip you wish to take from where you are now to being a Jet Jockey.

Some people mistakenly think that all you have to do to become a pilot is to know how to fly. Wrong! The airplane does that very well by itself, thank you! Some of the duties you will be asked to perform are to assist the airplane in taking off, arriving and landing at the correct airport, and most assuredly keeping the passengers and crew safe and happy. If you are equipped with charts, maps, approach plates, a reliable GPS and a working autopilot, it will make this chore a lot easier and smoother. In fact, the less you try to improve on the airplane’s flying characteristics, the more the airplane will show its appreciation by the smoothness it demonstrates while on the desired course.

You will also be asked to communicate with several people along your route of flight so that they can help you avoid other traffic and lessen the chance of some type of accident or incident. You will get better with this task as soon as you realize that it is a radio you are talking on and not a CB radio. Most of what you need to know is already under your belt flying smaller and slower aircraft. What you’ve got to understand is that even though your speed is not readily noticeable, you are still getting it on. This transition to speed is what fails most pilots initially. The multitude of tasks required to get safely from point “A” to point “B” added to aiming the flying machine is an actual chore.

You can make that adjustment just like thousands of others before you because you have that burning desire to be an Airline Pilot. A lot of what you need to know, and several things that have to be erased from your memory bank, are already stored away for future use and will prove invaluable during this transition period. The feelings that you are having now are the same as you had when you left single engine for multi, piston for turbine, and any other change we have all gone through as we progressed as pilots. Hopefully, if we are as smart as we tell everyone we are, we can mold what we now know into what we need to learn to fly this latest new airplane.

Why am I dwelling on jets so much? I am told that is the coming thing for general aviation and knowing that money will certainly buy a lot more airplane than some pilots can fly, I am trying to be one of the first to get on the training and safety bandwagon. I shuddered when Cirrus sold the first 22 to low timers, but for the most part I have been proven wrong. Those owners did take the time to get training and did listen when some well-trained instructors took them under their wings, so to speak.

I want that to happen when these new jets are offered for public consumption, too. The big secret to producing good and safe pilots has always been good training from the get-go. It saves lives, money, and airplanes, in that order. I hope you agree with that because if you can’t fly ’em real good, the insurance company is not going to touch you as a client. Or if you brought a bad record forward of not having the same number of landings as you did takeoffs, they are going to make some stiff requirements of you.

One thing that you can get started on is understanding jet propulsion and the effect it will have on your flying. There is a lot more to jet engines than speed, and when explaining them you need to go deeper than SUCK~SQUEEZE~BLOW in your presentation. Here again, if you can really afford this bird, demand the best in instruction. Check with the manufacturer, the insurance company, the previous owners, and see who they used and what satisfaction rating they give them now.

No one wants you to get hurt, to hurt someone else, or to bring forth a problem that could wipe out a brand new industry and harm aviation in general. Safety is knowing how to get from here to there without a problem enroute. Get your mindset ready for the new speed you will be performing and remember that you are not the only buyer of this new technology.

I want you to know that it takes a lot more than X number of hours to get that jet job and even more to fly the airplane. Whoever hires you will make a lot of demands and eventually pick the best of the litter to fly their equipment. Make sure you are ready. Be diligent in your reading and studying. Talk with some who have experience. What’s that old adage? Know the answer before you hear the question. Don’t blurt it out or interrupt but certainly know it!

Become keenly aware that the step-up to a Jet Captain is not as easy as some may have told you, but it will let the aviation world know that you are serious about your flying. In this case there is no such thing as being over-prepared. The preparation for this level of flight will be easier than any other rating or certificate that you have gone after simply because you are already a pilot. This is something that you experience almost daily along with your sense of pride in the position you now hold in this industry.

All this jet work will require from you is a dedication to safety and staying on top of any changes they throw at you about currency and operations. People have no idea of the hours we spend studying and flying and testing to be their chosen pilot, but we do. I wish you every success in this latest step up, and I’ll remind you that with this latest sign-off you are almost at the top.

Aviation as an industry has made some of the greatest changes in the last ten years that it has ever made. Some were improvements and some need a little more tweaking before we let them go anywhere on their own. I am proud to be a part of this industry as I know you are, and I hope it will be around for others to enjoy as we have for many years to come. Give it a longer shelf life by being security aware, flying safely, and treating the equipment as though you had to pay for the repairs and upgrades. That could be next.

Fly Safe ~ Jet Jockey—the world is watching you.

Written permission required to reprint this copyrighted article. (2011)

JIM TRUSTY, ATP~IGI~CFI~AGI was named the FAA/Aviation Industry National Flight Instructor of the Year for 1997, and the first ever FAA Southern Region Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year in 1995 and then again in 2005. He still works full-time as a Corporate 135 Pilot~ “Gold Seal” Flight & Ground Instructor~ FAA Safety Team Program Lead Representative~ National Aviation Magazine Writer. You have been enjoying his work since 1973 in publications worldwide.



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