On Final: The Envelope Please

On Final: The Envelope Please

My documented search for the next airplane has generated more reader feedback that I imagined possible. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that pilots are opinionated. Boy, we love our airplanes! I heard from lots of MU2, Commander, and Conquest owners. From Eclipse lovers. From King Air pilots. From Citation 501 folks. Even a Piaggio and a Starship operator. Each one completely convinced that their airplane was the perfect choice. Of course, every airplane has strengths and weaknesses. The cool thing is we have numerous choices. I began this quest planning to spend $1 million dollars. Along the way, I realized that everything I wanted would cost twice that.

I have made my decision.

The choice is the Citation Mustang. Here’s why: I know the airplane.

Having operated a new Mustang (510-008) for five years, it fits like a glove. In my opinion, it’s the “best bang for the buck” of any Citation ever built.

It will fly 350 knots TAS at 95 gallons per hour, FL 410 capability, almost 1,200 nm range, and a 750 pound useful load with full fuel. It has the fantastic Garmin G1000 system with an amazing autopilot, and three big screens for aging eyes.

The Mustang also features cavernous baggage, awesome brakes, a great air conditioning system, and a landing reference speed of 88 knots.

Most importantly, it’s the easiest airplane I’ve ever flown. With almost 500 delivered, it has the best safety record of any single-pilot-certified jet. Knock on aluminum. Also comforting is the fact that the used Mustang market is quite vibrant with numerous units changing hands each month.

Part of my decision involved training. I am a big proponent of simulator training. FlightSafety has a robust program with several full-motion, modern sims not available for many of the turboprops I looked at.

I know the manufacturer.

Quite simply, Textron Aviation (Cessna, Beechcraft) takes care of their customers. The convenience of their mobile service trucks is the closest thing to owning a car. I literally hand the hangar keys to the maintenance technician and he locks up everything when he is finished. Textron offers hourly paid maintenance programs for engines, airframe parts, and labor, that allow me to budget most operating expenses. Certainly, there is a cost for this level of service, but it works for me.

I know the people who fly them.

Almost all airplanes have user groups. From the single-engine Cirrus, to owner-flown jets, pilots love to chat online, meet in person, and socialize with their peers. Interestingly, some of the oldest airplanes I looked at continue to receive incredible support from companies like Mitsubishi for the MU2 and Twin Commander for their fleet.

For the Mustang, the Citation Jet Pilot’s Association has created a second family for me and Patty. We share operating techniques with other owners and meet numerous times annually to become safer pilots. Sometimes we drink refreshments. It’s a lifestyle that I enjoy. I know a number of Citation owners who would never think of owning a different  brand of airplane simply because leaving the owners’ group would stress too many friendships.

So now I have decided on a Mustang. There are 45 airplanes on the market. Which one for me?

Next time we’ll meet N416DM.

Fly safe.

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