“Captain, out of flight level 360 for flight level 350, sink rate 2,000.” “Thank you, reducing sink rate.”
The exchange sounded like something you might expect to hear in the cockpit of a large airliner. But I was in a Dassault Falcon 10 piloted by husband and wife John and Martha King, creators of the popular King Schools training videos and private jet owners. The professional and sterile cockpit, they later assured me, wasn’t a show for passengers. “Prefacing a comment with ‘captain,’” explained John, “makes the comment informational rather than opinionated. And a high level of discipline in the cockpit equates to increased safety.”
Traveling with the Kings felt like I had stepped into some sort of real-life DVD. John and Martha have an upbeat and animated way of taking complex subject matter and breaking it down into digestible quantities. From flight planning and preflight to cruise (max Mach 0.87 in the Falcon!) and touchdown, I constantly was provided with friendly and concise explanations of all that was happening.
Back at San Diego’s Montgomery Field, author Marc Lee and I spent some time “on the set” with the Kings to learn what goes into making an instructional video. On that day, Martha was filming a radio communications segment for a new online course featuring the Skycatcher, and we witnessed the hard work and team effort that goes into each scene. Check out the Plane & Pilot online video gallery to view a tour of the King Schools facilities and get insights from John and Martha on the much-anticipated LSA.
In this issue, not only do we look at the new Cessna trainer through the eyes of the Kings, but Senior Editor Bill Cox also shares his impressions. “The Skycatcher is well thought out and very comfortable; it has a reasonable payload and does everything that it can, right up to the limits of the LSA class,” he reported after a demo flight in Tampa, Fla., with Kirby Ortega, Cessna’s chief pilot. “It’s a pretty impressive airplane!”
On the other end of the spectrum, we feature a Mach 3+ plane: the Lockheed SR-71. Ever since hearing Blackbird pilot Brian Shul speak at an ISAP (International Society for Aviation Photography) convention, I’ve been in awe of the airplane, Brian’s stunning photography and his adventures at extreme altitudes and airspeeds. A typical “top-secret” mission for Brian and his navigator, Walt Watson, reached “Mach speeds we had previously not seen” and altitudes higher than 80,000 feet over faraway, undisclosed locations, yet they always made it home in time for dinner. As this month’s guest columnist, Brian shares a lesson learned not from flying fast, but from the day he flew low and slow…perhaps too low and slow!
For the New Year, we’ve assembled a pilot’s guide of what to look forward to in 2010. Our experts offer advice on simple steps for owning a plane, strategies for buyers and sellers, ideas for saving money, and insurance and finance tips. Share your 2010 flying plans with us at [email protected].