When I was flying T-38s and U-2s for the US Air Force, my squadron mates and I didn’t “own” the jets …but sometimes it sure felt like we owned them! We flew them all over the U.S. and all over the world, experiencing some of the most unique adventures I could imagine. With those high-performance jets, there was so much to know and be good at… and keeping that proficiency simultaneously in TWO different jets made it that much more challenging.
You may be surprised to know that we have an “Owner Pilot Association (OPA)” or “type club” in the military, where the pilots come to be great aviators: it’s called “the flying squadron”. For most of my career, I was in the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, the oldest flying squadron in the United States military; I was an instructor pilot in the 1st RS for 14 years. Day-in and day-out, I worked hard to improve my skills in those aircraft, but I was also tasked with getting our new pilots the necessary instruction and knowledge they needed to become successful reconnaissance pilots. The squadron was the place where pilots came to become better at their craft. It was also a great social outlet, where kindred spirits with a passion for aviation would get together, after work or while deployed overseas, and continue “hangar flying” well into the evening.
The U-2 and T-38 are high-performance jets, each in its own right. Had I gone through initial training, and then spent the next few years trying to improve my flying skills with no outside help, I would have failed miserably… and I’d be lucky to be alive. But, having the support of the squadron… from the newest new guy to the oldest, crusty, weathered senior instructor… keeps everyone challenged. Yes, our squadron “Owner Pilot Association” was instrumental in my success as a military pilot.
An OPA For Citation Pilots
Certainly, if you’ve owned or operated your own private aircraft, you’ve at least considered joining your aircraft’s Owner Pilot Association. The common experiences of the collective group are passed on to the members, along with the learning of hard lessons from those who experienced them first-hand. But when it comes to turbine aircraft, the complexities innate in them, and the requirements for a more-polished pilot skill set, makes the turbine-class OPA more than just a good idea: it will provide you the support structure that you must have to if you are going to continually improve your abilities and master your duties as Pilot in Command of these high-performance wonders. Not to mention, it will also save you significant time and money. Bottom line: if you’re an owner, operator, or otherwise directly involved with turbine aircraft, you need to be a member of your respective turbine OPA.
There are OPAs for each of the turbine-powered owner-flown aircraft currently on the market, and each of them strives to advocate for its members and provide them the tools they need to operate more efficiently. For owners of a Citation jet-variant, there is the Citation Jet Pilots Owner Pilot Association (CJP), an independent, not-for-profit OPA (www.CitationJetPilots.com). Through the support of CJP Members and CJP’s corporate partners, CJP is able to deliver a variety of member benefits that provide a compelling value proposition for joining.
CJP is the de facto “flying squadron” for Citation owners and pilots… and, like any military squadron, it is made up of members that are brand-new to Citation ownership and/or flying, all the way up to members that are on their 7th or 8th Citation. Although the vast majority of our members are single-pilot rated, many fly with another pilot, whether they are in an M2 or a Citation X.
CJP was started seven years ago when eleven people got together in Las Vegas to discuss ownership of the then-new Citation Mustang. Since then, CJP has grown into a diverse, international organization of over 900 members, of which 425+ are Citation Owners. Our owners are located world-wide, with the bulk of them residing in North America.
The Benefits Of CJP Membership
One of the biggest member benefits of CJP is its mass: the association is able to advocate for its owners and members with a significant voice. And as powerful as that voice is, it gains strength as our membership ranks grow. Our ability to leverage our size and unity is also beneficial to our corporate partners that sponsor CJP. They realize that, as CJP Partners, they are able to communicate directly and easily to all of our members, rather than spending their marketing dollars attempting to contact each person individually. In addition to Textron Aviation, our top-level Platinum Partners include jetAVIVA, ProFlight, Wagner Family of Wine, FlightSafety International, and Garmin. They, and all of our partners, have made significant investments that allow CJP to continue its mission of providing the support and education to allow our members to operate their jets efficiently, economically, and safely.
Each fall, CJP holds its Annual Convention. It is 3 ½ solid days of content focused on owners and pilots of Citation aircraft. We certainly have wonderful evening events… but the real action is from 8am-5pm, when experts from all fields of aviation share their knowledge on the Citation fleet, physiology, training, cockpit resource management, weather radar, and a myriad other topics. Our 2016 Convention is to be held October 19-23 in New Orleans.
CJP also hosts three Regional
Events each year. These are smaller, more intimate gatherings of about 20 owners and 50-60 people in total, in a very unique setting, with a custom itinerary that provides a unique experience and opportunity to build relationships amongst our members.
So what other “tangible benefits” does CJP provide? For Citation owners, they receive a $500 certificate good at any Citation Service Center or through a Mobile Service Unit (MSU). Just that one benefit alone means that you are losing money each year if you are not a CJP Member. Our simulator training providers offer discounts ranging from $500-$750, and we frequently have auction items that can save you thousands on your annual training.
CJP’s burgeoning FuelAdvantage program is open to anyone with a turbine-powered aircraft, and provides significant savings to turbine owners, while driving more business volume to participating FBO’s.
Arguably, CJP’s most valuable resources are the Member Forum and the Russ Meyer Citation Library (RMCL). The forum is a living, online community where members can share knowledge, experiences, ask for help, and find out “gee, I never knew that” information. When a simple forum post saves you thousands of dollars in troubleshooting, I would say that is “valuable”.
The RMCL is a virtual library that is chock-full of technical documents, training aids, performance, and safety related material… all related to Citation operations. In conjunction with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the RMCL grows each and every day as new, relevant material is added to the library. It is the one-stop-shop for Citation information.
In the turbine world where avionics upgrades are well into the six-figure range, major inspections are five-figure, and just about anything else is a four-figure item, CJP’s annual fee of $300 makes joining an easy decision. That’s about 55 gallons of Jet A at KTEB, the last time I looked. If you are not a CJP Member, that omission is costing you money.
Looking back on my military flying career, I simply cannot imagine having been a U-2 pilot… on my own… without the help and observations of other knowledgeable pilots and the expertise of those that maintained, serviced, and provided the logistics support for keeping the U-2 “on the edge of space.” Similarly, as a low-time Citation pilot, I would never imagine trying to go it alone without the support, professionalism, and network that is provided by CJP. Join us today!
Go to www.CitationJetPilots.com for more information on CJP.