Solairus Aviation Dispatcher, Darren Nolan, recalls his recent opportunity to fly with Solairus Pilot, John Kibler, in one of the company’s Citation CJ3s!
The world looks pretty amazing from 45,000 feet above sea level. I had the amazing opportunity to see this wonderful view last week when John Kibler, private charter jet pilot of one of our Citation CJ3s, invited me along for a flight from Novato, CA to Sun Valley, ID and back. I had taken flight lessons about 13 years ago in a Cessna 152 out of the very same airport, which was the last time I sat in the cockpit of any airplane. Up until this point, my only experiences riding in a private charter jet have been in the cabins of commercial airliners, so this was really quite a special experience for me.
After we taxied onto the runway at Novato, John pushed the throttles to full takeoff power and I was truly awed by the acceleration that these private charter jets have. This was no slow, lumbering takeoff roll like you would expect to feel in a fully loaded 747; we accelerated fast and were airborne in what seemed like a few seconds. The climb-out was not trivial by any means either as we reached our initial assigned altitude, once again, in a matter of seconds. Having only flown a Cessna 152, I had no real appreciation for how busy the cockpit is during the takeoff and climb-out of a jet. If can’t multi-task, then flying charter jets is not for you. John flew the airplane, worked the radios, and manipulated the flight computer like the pro he is making it look easy the whole time as we leveled off at 45,000 feet. One of the major advantages to flying so high is that you get over just about all the busy airline traffic and can fly straight to your destination rather than going waypoint by waypoint, which can add extra time to your flight. The avionics on this particular airplane were impressive as well. It’s an all “glass cockpit”, meaning the instruments are displayed on computer screens rather than gauges, dials and gyros. We were able to pull up the approach plates on the center screen and plan our descent long before the air traffic controller (ATC) actually instructed us to begin descending. The weather in Sun Valley was not great and there was some question as to whether or not we could actually land there – something we would not learn until we were on final approach. Things got busy again after ATC instructed us to begin our descent. Even though the runway and airport were obscured by clouds John was able to fly the private charter aircraft in on instruments and seconds before we reached our minimum “decision height”, the runway appeared from behind the clouds and John made a perfect “10” landing.
Needless to say, it was quite an experience and I’m proud that I work for a private charter jet company that employs and trains pilots of John’s caliber for the dozens of flights we make everyday.