by David Miller
I am ready to publicly admit that I have a problem. With speed. Not the over-the-counter kind. Instead, my addiction is an overwhelming need to go as fast as possible in an airplane. Oh, I have been to counseling. I went to JPA (Jet Pilots’ Anonymous) meetings. I even bought a King Air. But, nothing helped. Soon, I found myself behind the yoke of a jet. It all started with my first one in the 1980’s. I couldn’t afford the “modern” technology of the Citation I. And they called it the “Slowtation” to boot. I needed my speed. So, we bought a 1960’s Sabreliner. At .78 Mach and about 440 knots up high, it was a thrill. I conveniently don’t recall the fuel burn or maintenance costs. I only remember the speed.
But I needed to go faster.
We bought a Falcon 10. The sweetest flying aircraft ever. Mach .84 in cruise and 480 knots, if you could afford the fuel. My therapist said I had a sub-conscious belief that the world would end with “Y2K” and that I just wanted to go out with a bang. But, alas, we all made it through that horrific event and I had to return to reality. He said, “You buy faster airplanes and log less hours in your logbook. Do you want to brag about your speed or how many hours you have?”
I fired the therapist.
After I sold my business, all the airplane expense had to come out of MY pocket. Or Patty’s pocket. She quickly helped me find a solution. The Citation Mustang. An awesome bang for the buck. But, at 340 knots, it was 140 knots slower than the swept-wing beauty from France. “But,” she said, “you can fly it single pilot.”
In the past few years, I have relapsed into the addiction. My CJ1+ is 40 knots faster than the Mustang. Not fast enough. I look for cruise altitudes that have ISA-minus temperatures, just to squeeze out a few extra knots. I make new friends who own faster airplanes like the CJ3. It is 40 knots faster than the 1+. I have even called airplane manufacturers to convince them that I am a wonderful prospect for their faster airplanes. This actually worked with the Premier 1. Beech let me fly it. Its wings glistened in the morning sunlight, and it had to be restrained during taxi as we galloped down the asphalt.
I called Embraer and told them the same story. They said, “Aren’t you married to Patty? Nice try, fella.” So I wore a disguise and actually got to fly the Phenom 300. The earth moves by so much faster at 440 knots.
I know what you are going to say. “You ungrateful ______. Most of us are just slogging around at 250 knots or less in all sorts of weather and you are complaining about 40 knots?”
Like I said, this is an addiction. It doesn’t have to make sense.
With 5,000-plus hours in his logbook, David Miller has been flying for business and pleasure for more than 40 years. Having owned and flown a variety of aircraft types, from turboprops to midsize jets, Miller, along with his wife Patty, now own and fly a Citation CJ1+. You can contact David at email@example.com.