Saturday, August 19, 2000
You thought commercial airlines were cramped …
While driving to Boomers we saw an odd looking plane land at the Boca Raton Executive Airport. Greg was excited. “That's my Dad's plane,” he said, point to the landing aircraft.
“Your Dad is flying that airplane?” asked Tom.
“No, but that's his plane. Or rather, a plane he flies,” said Greg. Greg's Dad is a licenced pilot (and even flew helecopter missions in Vietnam) and now works for AvWeb, a avionics centered website. The plane we saw landing is used often by his Dad. “But it looks bigger flying than on the ground,” said Greg, refering to the plane.
After spending some time at Boomers we headed over to the Boca Raton Executive Airport just down the street. He stopped at one of the offices, got the keys to the plane, then drove out on the tarmac over to the plane.
It's not a big plane at all. A large bulb comprises the cockpit and it narrows down to a slender pipe perhaps two feet across to form the rest of the plane. The wings are below the cockpit and the plane was tied down to the tarmac, like the rest of the small planes parked there.
There are two seats in the cockpit, but its like backseats in sports cars. Yes, you technically can fit two people in there, but unless you're a horse jockey, you aren't going to be very comfortable. The cargo space consisted of a small cavity behind the two seats.
Did I mention the plane was rather small?
Tom and Kurt crammed into the cockpit for a few minutes, then Greg and I crammed in, closed the cockpit and Greg spent the next several minutes trying to get the plane started.
He got it started only to have this horrible flapping sound emenate from the plane. Outside Tom, Keller and Kurt were trying to get our attention—it seems my seatbelt was hanging outside the cockpit, flapping against the side of the plane in the backwash of the propeller. Greg stopped the engine, we opened the cockpit, I pulled the seatbelt in, and we repeated the procedure.
Not only is it cramped, but loud. Greg said the plane is used for training, which explains the two sets of pedals and joysticks and possibly the cramped conditions.
I'll fly the commercial A320s over this anyday (last year I had the opportunity to fly an A320 simulator used to train pilots. It's amazing how simple modern commercial airplanes are to take off, fly and land—something I've never been able to do on PC flight simulators).