It is quite compelling when with a guilty sense of the “rush,” you fly closer to the ground and watch it slipping by at a quickened pace. When your heartbeat matches the tick of the clock in the rhythmic resonance and you proclaim, “Ah Life!”
Now mind you, it has happened before but nothing like this. I’ve flown different aircraft for many years and my favorite one had been the laminar flow version with a turbocharge attached. I started flying the low to mid-teen dry-hypoxia inducing air with a nasal cannula stuck in my nostrils. It was good, looking at the GPS winding down the time and winding up the speed. It was good. But something was missing…
Then came the day when I and a friend picked up a 2007 G36 from Nevada. I had to bring this gorgeous beast all the way to the East Coast. But, there was a caveat; A new 0-timed engine that had to be treated with gloved hands and the travails of an October month. Gloved hand care, we gave it but the October sun was complicit in our delights only for half the way.
So, we, my Bonanza flying friend with close to 5000 hours in a three engine TBO-ed V-tail, decided that 7500 feet would be the best-case scenario to keep the 75% power schedule at 20 degrees Rich of Peak across the hills for ring seating and cylinder smoothened cross-hatching mechanism. And that, was what we did! Ever run a mile in 20 seconds? Well that is how it feels as your heart races and the body is comfortably seated held up in the air by a set of powerful wings!
The late-afternoon departure from Carson City, NV was ordinary with my first shot behind the yoke and a G-1000. We navigated close to Victor 6 Airway as possible, so we could have communication with the Air Traffic Control, playing the valleys as we went along. “We’ll turn left around that outcrop and then right around that one.” The G-1000 showed the outcroppings as elevated terrain in yellows and reds. The Red color were peaks above our flight altitude. Soon, the dry bed turned into drier bed of arid land with outcropping of mountains at 9000 and 10,000 feet poking their tops around us. An endless desert of possibilities. The G-1000 at times not happy with the GPWS proximity alerts piped in with “Terrain, Pull Up, Pull Up” warnings. Happily, it was VFR with scattered layers above and the big blue above and a nifty steady 10-knot tailwind of a 23 knot crosswind along the way. In reasonable smooth air, we gave the peaks a wide berth, swinging through the flatter valleys. Ever ride a motorbike on a winding road? It feels like that at a much slower but more thrilling pace. After all we were not in a kerosine burner tied to our backs like the Jetman.
The Salt Lake Approach (KSLC) was unlike the high-powered-rat-a-tat East Coast ATC.
Finally, we arrived late in the evening at a plateau hosting a 10,000-foot runway aptly named Rock Springs (KRKS).
The next morning at sun up and after a thorough preflight evaluation of the IO-550B and its confines, which remained speck-less, we departed into the smooth air of the rising sun. Gorgeous is all I can say. The G36 revved up to its broadcast 174 knots at 7,500 feet again and off we went looking for Don Quixote leaning against the Wind Farm silos that floated by. The terrain after Cheyenne, Wyoming started to fall a bit and we entered into some crosswind with a small headwind component. The cloud deck below went from scattered to a solid undercast and the only way into Des Moines was via Instrument Rules.
A bit about the G-1000 and its integrated Autopilot. It is like an airliner. Nary a twitch, the magenta line and the approach all beautifully choreographed in a seamless dance. The barometric pressure changes, you input the data and the “George” or “Jeeves” does your knob-bidding. Use the FLC and a touch of reduced power and it claims the new lower altitude preselected at the cruise speed. Ah the wonders of gizmos and the ease of flying never cease. Essentially, after a fuel stop at Sydney, Nebraska (KSYD) we filed Instruments to KDSM (Des Moines, Iowa), we had to go down to the DH (Decision Height) at 200 feet above ground to go below the clouds, on the ILS approach into KDSM. After breaking out, I took over the controls from "George" and made a soft 15 knot right crosswind landing on Runway 5. “Man,” I thought, “this G36 makes a pilot look good!”
Departing KDSM was a blur of clouds and in-between layers. The autopilot negotiated the magenta line with expertise, any master aviator would be envious. A little rain here and there, but mostly clouds and minor turbulence, the rest was all grey. There is isn’t much poetry in those next 5 and ½ hours that ensued, except ATC making our straight magenta line into a warped crooked one to get to our destination around some busy airspaces. Arrival was a non-event in 800-foot ceiling, light rain and 7-mile visibility and we were back to sea level residency.
The story of this travel was the G36. Comfortable, OMG as one would say, Awesome! Humming all the way for 13+ hours with less than half a quart of oil. Now that is what I call a machine’s machine. if you ever happen to encounter this kind of possibility, take it! You will thank me for it.
Loved it. What a wonderful adventure, attributable to the folks who made this beautiful flying machine; Beechcraft Bonanza G36.
Hats off to them!!
Hats off to them!!