Running With The Big Dogs: A Jet Experience

’€œFlying Like The Pros’€ shows GA pilots big-cockpit methods and techniques

Don't be in a rush to screw things up!" It's one of many little sayings and memory joggers that 2010 National CFI Of The Year Jeffrey Robert Moss (everyone calls him "MossY") teaches students in his Flying Like The Pros (FLTP) system. It's MossY's passion and concept: flying general aviation airplanes like professional pilots fly jets at the top tier of the aviation hierarchy.

The valuable reminder would be one of many I would commit to memory as MossY engaged me in his second biggest passion: transitioning piston pilots to jets. MossY's years of specialized flight training in both airline and GA cockpits has endowed him with a unique understanding of how best to transition GA pilots to single-pilot jets. MossY is the industry expert on the task. He's merged this with his Flying Like The Pros concept to create a multifaceted training system with courses that teach the secrets and methods the pros use on the elite flight decks of the world.

Even at 5:30 a.m., MossY exudes passion like most people exhale. Passion is an overused word in aviation, but nothing better describes his zeal for flying. "There is nothing I enjoy more," says MossY in an exuberant voice, "than teaching a purely piston pilot like yourself how to fly a jet!" I know it's not marketing hype because he doesn't need this. His FLTP courses are respected in the industry, and his own accomplishments negate the need for him to teach a taildragger guy like me how to fly a Citation Mustang. Clearly, he loves this.

Even at this hour, with the sun still snuggled behind the Earth, MossY's voice fills the room. "I discovered that the real pros were doing things differently than I was." He tells me the story of his flying a tough ILS approach with a renowned captain from British Airways one night. "I flew it beautifully," says MossY. "But when I asked him what he thought of it afterwards, he said it was pitiful! I sat with him for four hours and took notes about how it should be done!"

747 Love Affair
MossY has a unique view into the elite world of international cockpits because of his own association with the Boeing 747-400 aircraft. Those of us who grew up in the pre-9/11 world might recall the fact that "civilians" (nonpilots) could pay money for left-seat time in the full-motion simulators used for training at many of the world's biggest airlines. Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, United, Pan Am and many other airlines offered the little-known program.

In college, MossY was given the gift of a "Pilot for a Day" with United Airlines in a 747-400 simulator by his girlfriend. "That was one of those life-changing moments," MossY says. The sim experience led to MossY traveling all over the world buying 747 simulator time with the biggest airlines. By the age of 23, MossY was considered an expert on airline standardization and procedures on the B744, and shortly thereafter started consulting to several airlines. By this time, MossY had earned his private certificate and was earning his instrument rating.

MossY's airline-pilot connections put him squarely on a path that allowed him to fly and observe pro pilots and their methods and procedures; especially those in international cockpits. MossY adopted these techniques, and found they increased safety and precision by a large margin, and were just as viable in GA cockpits as in a 747. He also positioned himself as an instructor on glass cockpits---new to GA at the time---and in the newer technically advanced aircraft like the Cirrus SR22 and Columbia 400. Flying Like The Pros came from that.

Drinking From The Fire Hose
Flying a jet is an intimidating thing for a stick-and-rudder guy like me. Even the walkaround leaves you scratching your head as this magnificent streamlined beast looms before you like an ultramodern totem. But it's not until you strap in that you realize the coolness of what you're about to do.

In many ways, jets are easier. There's no torque or P-factor. In the Mustang, there's no mixture or prop controls or cowl flaps; FADEC takes care of all that. But jets have more systems to manage. In the Mustang, the Garmin G1000 is where everything happens, so getting intimate with it is essential.

The Flying Like The Pros concept begins even before startup. Checklists and callouts are done more thoroughly than typical. For example, when approaching a runway that needs to be crossed, the pilot turns on strobes and exterior lights, looks diligently both ways, calls out, "Clear left, clear on the right," then waits for the copilot to confirm before crossing the runway. The takeoff is preceded by, "Runway xx confirmed and matches HSI heading." At its core, it's a more precise and disciplined way of managing the cockpit.

Nothing prepares you for your first jet takeoff from the left seat, when the whine of the turbines becomes focused and sharp, and you feel the power of the airplane travel from the throttles into your whole body. Once the agile Mustang is in the air, things happen faster than in a piston, though pilots used to aircraft like the Cirrus will feel at home immediately because the speeds are similar, and the G1000 is the great equalizer on the panel.

On board also today is Master CFI, Cirrus instructor and MossY's colleague Peter King, and we go through three hours of air work. Particularly fun were the "high dives," which are simulated sudden-decompression scenarios. You climb to altitude, and MossY shouts, "Bang!" You put on your oxygen mask and get down FAST. You close the throttles, put out the speed brakes and gear, crank the Mustang over on its side, and dive down to a breathable altitude. The maneuver requires special clearance from approach control, and watching the rising sun at tilt-a-whirl angles is a better wake-up elixir than any coffee I know of.

The Courses
Although this could be any typical jet instruction scenario, what makes Flying Like The Pros ( different is MossY's instructing style and his techniques. Apart from being unflinchingly calm and confident, MossY drives you to become a better pilot without you even knowing it. He not only shows you how to do something, but how to do it better.

The FLTP system consists of video courses that stand out from what's available today. They were created with an elite group of professional ATP-rated pilots handpicked by MossY. Each curriculum is less of a standard lesson than it is flying actual scenarios with the best pilot you can imagine sitting right seat. The concept is geared toward GA pilots, and though the courses don't currently include primary flight training, the techniques and methods taught would provide a solid training foundation.

With a growing selection, FLTP currently offers three new courses: Cirrus SR22 with the Avidyne panel, using the Garmin 400/500 in IFR and Garmin G1000 IFR. On deck is a special IFR Procedures and Weather Tactics course. All are available as online courses or as DVDs.

Each course leverages all the techniques and insights culled from MossY's years of observation and flying with aviation's best. They also add to MossY's instructing techniques and his different view of training in today's technically advanced aviation world.

"I see so many pilots with type ratings who can't land visually or can't fly the airplane around by hand," laughs MossY. "I knew there was a deficiency out there." MossY applied his airline experiences to the deficiencies he saw, and set out to make GA pilots safer. "Do these international airline captains really fly differently?" asks MossY. "You bet they do. And I want to adapt those techniques to GA to make better, safer, more professional pilots."

Back in the Mustang cockpit, MossY's patience with me is comforting as I quietly repeat his, "Don't be in a rush to screw it up," mantra. After my first landing at Burbank (I'm sure he helped), I'm walking a mile high, and he knows it. "Tell me that wasn't amazing," he exclaims with his trademark enthusiasm. "We can take a regular, GA, biplane guy and make him a jet pilot!" MossY smiles and adds, "Ten days and we could get you type rated in this!" All I can say is, where do I sign up?

Sweepstakes Winner

Kevin Halliburton was reading Plane & Pilot when he saw an ad announcing a Flying Like The Pros contest, where the winner would get several hours of ground-school and left-seat time in a Citation Mustang with none other than MossY as the instructor. Thinking it a neat idea, Halliburton entered the contest expecting nothing more, until he got the call one day---from MossY himself---announcing he had won!

According to MossY, the contest was created to show that the Flying Like The Pros techniques could help even a basic piston pilot transition to the big leagues of jets. "I was hoping the winner wouldn't be a multi-engine-rated pilot or a CFI," says MossY. "A single-engine piston pilot would be ideal to show we can take somebody like that and move them into jets without any problem."

Halliburton had earned his private certificate at 20 years old, flew for a few years actively, and then dropped out of aviation---like many of us---to tend to home and family. He came back five years ago, looking to rekindle that early spark. "I flew 172s for a while," says Halliburton, "then I joined iFly (now out of business) and flew the Columbia 350." In fact, MossY had been his Columbia instructor years before.

On the appointed day, Halliburton came to Burbank Airport along with his 16-year-old son, Trevor. Halliburton had clearly done his ground-school homework, and MossY led him through familiarization with the Mustang, and then it was time to fly.

MossY took Halliburton through the gamut of maneuvers, including stalls, engine failures, steep turns and, of course, landings. Halliburton performed beautifully, and absorbed the FLTP techniques and methods as MossY patiently applied his unique and unhurried instructing style. MossY even gave Trevor some left-seat time, driving home the point that flying a jet is not the stuff of legend.

"It was absolutely awesome!" smiled Halliburton unbuckling from the Mustang. For his part, MossY beamed from the experience. "I just love introducing pilots like Kevin to the Mustang," he said. "I wish I could do this all the time!"


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