Years ago when I instructed part-time in Indiana, my instrument student Pete presented a surprise opportunity to fly for his company.
“We’ll start with rental airplanes while you help pick out a suitable twin,” he offered during a lesson. Having only 140 hours of multiengine experience at the time, I questioned why he chose me.
“As an instructor you are thorough, cautious, and safe,” said Pete. “You’ll need a type-specific checkout and we’ll initially pay a higher insurance premium, but those are good investments in my opinion.” I took the job, and ultimately we purchased a cabin-class Piper Navajo.
My first lesson was how much work it takes running even a single-airplane corporate flight department. I spent more time managing maintenance and logistics than piloting.
For one thing, radios were less reliable back then, meaning frequent visits to the avionics shop.
Then one day the landing gear wouldn’t retract after takeoff. Better that than not extending for landing, but flying the normally speedy twin home from the East Coast at 130 knots maximum-gear-extended speed was memorable for the wrong reasons…
**Read Greg’s entire column, “RUNAWAY AUTOPILOT” ** (Mobile-device version HERE)
Photos: Piper Navajo “cabin-class” twin.
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
©2019 Gregory N. Brown
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!