On May 13th, I flew with a large group (12 planes and 41 people) from Air Associates, a FBO at Johnson County Executive Airport, down to Independence, Kansas to tour the Cessna Plant.
Read all about the flight planning and Cessna factory tour after the jump.
The Preflight Planning:
The trip started with a mandatory pilot briefing the night before at Air Associates by “Reg”, Director of Flight Training Operations. The briefing included a review of various cross county planning topics, operations at uncontrolled airports and concluded with a review of the 3 different flight routes and launch sequence to ensure everyone arrived at IDP at about the same time. After the presentation concluded, we broken into groups and discussed individual plane specifics including weight and balance.
The Morning Of:
The morning started with a great breakfast by Air Associates and about 30 minutes before our launch time, we began the preflight. I was the PIC on the first leg of the trip to IDP. I was flying a Cessna 182 Turbo with the new G1000 cockpit. Also on board was Taylor (he would PIC the return trip), Keith, a pilot friend and coworker I invited along, and Darrin, the instructor assigned to our plane from Air Associates. (Picture Left: Keith, Darrin and Taylor — I’m taking the picture)
I had no formal time in the Garmin G1000 and the notion of my first hours flying a “High Performance” plane had me a little worried. Darrin (whom had just passed his ATP check ride that week) made me feel right at ease. Darrin walked me through the differences in the high performance systems and he was very familiar with the G1000. Our plane filed IFR to IDP at 8000 feet.
We were the one of the last aircraft to leave because of our aircraft performance, upon contacting Kansas City departure control, it took no time for them to ask what was going on in IDP that morning as I am sure their radar was glowing with VFR aircraft enroute. Shortly after leaving the Kansas City Class B, Kansas City Center asked the same question. 🙂
The G1000 made it very easy to navigate and fly the filed route, however, I felt “behind the plane” from the start due to the high performance characteristics of the aircraft. It was a blast to fly, but I wish I had some time with the G1000 on the ground before the flight. About 12 miles out, Center was going to have to reroute us due to all the VFR traffic in the area converging on IDP, so we canceled and flew the rest of the way VFR. Darrin did the landing from the right seat due to our cramped arrival spacing and the fact I was unfamiliar with this heavy aircraft. After the 3 minute mandatory cool down period passed for the Turbo we shutdown and met up with the group.
After we cleared security, we began the tour with a Q&A with the plant manager. Unfortunately no cameras were allowed on the tour of the assembly floor, but it was awesome to see the manufacturing process of so many airplanes. It was amazing to me how manual the assembly process was even today with all the electronic avionics. The neatest thing about the tour was the new Cessna Mustang that is due for certification sometime yet this year. The wings had just been put on serial number 3 and the plant workers were hooking up the various wiring harnesses in the tail cone. This aircraft looks awesome! The cockpit control systems looked amazing! Makes me wish I had a spare million dollers on hand! 🙂 (Picture Left: On departure from IDP Taylor was flying so I snapped this picture of the Cessna Hanger. The planes on the Northeast side of the ramp are ready for delivery/pickup.)
The return trip was uneventful and Taylor did a great job flying back to OJC. That trip really made me want to own an aircraft someday. Maybe not a Cessna, but some type of aircraft. I will have to add it to my list…