Pegging the VSI. At ATC’s request.

As professional pilots, we have a responsibility to provide as safe,¬†efficient, and comfortable a ride as possible to our passengers. That pretty much rules out loops, rolls, spins, and various other aerobatics. Really, it even rules out bank angles over 20 degrees or so for a lot of passengers. Passengers generally do not like to look out the side window of an airplane and see the ground. We also sometimes slow the airplane down to conserve fuel and keep operating costs lower. There are times, however, when safety, or Air Traffic Control dictate you prioritize comfort or efficiency a little bit lower. For instance, if ATC needs you to speed up to get you in the proper sequence on an arrival, you will do it if able. Or if ATC ever says “TURN IMMEDIATELY!”, it’s time to abandon the 20 degree bank angle limit. That usually means they have some conflicting air traffic heading your way and you need to make a turn to avoid getting too close to each other.

In the Learjet 31A, we have another problem that can cause passengers discomfort. This airplane has so much power, if pushed to the max, we can pin a passenger in his seat, point the nose into the air and take off in a rocket like fashion. So we routinely make initial climbs with lower pitch attitudes and reduced power to keep things comfortable.

One night, heading home to Brenham out of Houston Hobby we got the request from ATC. Just after takeoff, “Can you be through 10,000 feet in less than three minutes?”. It says “Learjet” in our aircraft description, doesn’t it? For this short flight home, we were very light, had just one passenger on board, and it was a cool night (even better performance). The answer was an indubitable and emphatic “Yes!”. It would mean we could get above the altitude where we were speed restricted to 250 knots indicated airspeed, plus get a direct heading home instead of adding extra miles for vectoring. So we put the power to it, stood it on end and started a vigorous climb.

For some reason, Learjet put a Vertical Speed Indicator instrument in the airplane that only registers up to 6000 feet per minute. I guess it is so we pilots can use terms like “pegged the VSI”. Well we did. After getting the clearance to climb fast to 10,000′ from 2,000′, I reported through 8,000′ in less than 45 seconds. The controller responded “Cool!”. Not as cool as from my seat! Even with the nose pitched up around 25 degrees and climbing faster than 6000 fpm, the airplane was holding 250 knots forward speed. What a machine.

We made it from takeoff at Hobby to landing in Brenham in 13 minutes. As another of my clients always says, “It sure beats driving.”

Had it been a different passenger, I might have declined the request. But I happen to know that this client enjoys how much power this airplane has. He was smiling as much as we were.

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About Will Beever Jr

I started my flying career in the womb with my dad as the pilot. When I got big enough to handle the controls, he let me fly his plane some. In college, after pleading for years, he let me start training on a pilot certificate. After doing some research, the Texas A&M Flying Club looked to be the most affordable way into a pilot certificate. While working toward a degree in Electrical Engineering at A&M and no intention of entering the field of aviation, I met my primary flight instructor, Lynley Carr. Lynley remains the most career oriented individual I've ever met. He was born knowing he would be an airline pilot. His motivation rubbed off on me and propelled me into a love of aviation. After college, while my colleagues were taking high paying engineering jobs, I took a sub-minimum wage job working on airplane radios. From there I finished my commercial certification qualifications, picked up some flying jobs and began work as a contract pilot. After gathering so many clients that I could not handle all of the flying, I formed a corporation, hired my first employee and started Avolar Corp. From there, I have taken on a maintenance shop, aircraft brokerage, and aircraft management. My team and I are working toward adding aircraft charter and more pilot services. Just as I was getting started in aviation, I met my wife Meredith. She has supported our venture while we try to grow our small business. We have started a family with two boys who bring us great joy. With our family and our business taking up all of our time, we find ourselves completely fulfilled. We both believe God has provided us with everything we need.

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