“I need to drop my M2 off at the service center in Wichita. Want to fly right seat?” came the voicemail question from friend Larry King. “Oh, and I might buy a 206, so Cessna will take us home on a demo flight back to Dallas,” he added.
Now, that might be an interesting trip, I mused. Up to KICT on a 400-knot jet and right back on a single-engine Cessna. What could be more fun?
So, we met shortly after sunrise at Larry’s Mesquite, Texas (KHQZ) hangar in low overcast skies and light mist.
The 300 nm trip to KICT was going to be quick with a 75-knot tailwind. ATIS “Victor” was advertising winds at 300 degrees at 18 knots gusting to 25 with a 1.5-mile visibility and 900 overcast. As we taxied to Runway 36, Larry asked, “What’s our takeoff alternate?” I was pleased. My mentoring was working. “Well, Dallas Love (KDAL) has lower landing minimums and better approach lighting, so that’s probably a better idea than trying to get back in here.”
In the 8 degree Celsius temps, we departed with windshield bleed air and engine heat on. Climbing at 220 knots IAS and 2,500 fpm, we quickly cleared the tops at 10,000 feet. Larry had filed for FL 400 even for this short flight. We were only there for a few minutes at a comfortable cabin altitude of 7,600 feet, and our numbers were impressive.
TAS 394 knots
GS 446 knots
FF 360 lbs per side
Descending into Wichita at more than 3,000 fpm to meet a crossing restriction, our ground speed increased to 475 knots. We arrived at the Textron service center after 54 minutes, aided by the tailwind, and burned 120 gallons of jet fuel.
That’s some performance.
Awaiting us on the ramp was Andrew Pahlke, demo pilot for Cessna’s single-engine line. For about 4 million less than the M2, we were headed back to Mesquite in a single-engine Cessna. Only this time, at 5,000 feet. Andrew conducted the safety briefing and noted that the 206 Turbo Stationair HD could carry more than 1,000 pounds of stuff with full fuel. That’s better than the M2. And the plane features the latest Garmin G1000 NXi avionics, including Electronic Stability and Protection (ESP) and coupled autopilot go-arounds – features not yet available in the jet.
On takeoff, Larry commented, “Wow, we used so little runway!” We departed to the north and climbed at 900 fpm all the way to 5,000 feet, where our cabin altitude was…5,000 feet. And there we remained in the soup with an outside temperature of 4 degrees Celsius for the entire flight. Our cruise numbers:
TAS 142 knots
GS 135 knots
FF 19 gph
Two hours and sixteen minutes to be exact, even with virtually no headwind. We had lots of time to talk about airplanes and life while never seeing the ground. Finally, we shot the RNAV GPS 36 to Mesquite, where the weather had not changed since we left.
Two very different airplanes flying the same mission. Both were a blast.