I am pleased to report that on 23rd of April 2008, yours truly became a proud father of a baby jet aircraft. On what looked to be a dull, overcast, rainy day in Kansas, we took off in the Cessna caravan shuttle from Wichita to Independence. My last post gives more information on Independence, a little town now on the World map for manufacturing the highly successful Cessna Citation Mustang Aircraft, also featured in my previous post. Waiting for me and my Aircraft acceptance pilot Andre' was the Aircraft delivery team. The sun was suddenly shining, I kid you not, and things seemed pleasant, even the temperature. I was first taken to what is known as the delivery room (sounds so much like a maternity event, right?) where there are amenities to help do the documentation and acceptance of the Aircraft and a place to relax in between, if there was any time to relax, that is.
(The baby with the red carpet-before delivery)
I was then introduced to the entire delivery team and that includes the folks who look after CESSCOM, Pro-parts Pro-advantage programs for the Aircraft. To those who are not in aviation, CESSCOM is a maintenance tracking/reporting software that is provided to new Aircraft owners free for one year. They'll make me pay a fee for it for subsequent years, it's all in the game. There is a delivery hangar attached to the delivery room (makes sense does it not?) and they had already wheeled in my "baby". We were ushered out to the hangar where a Cessna Professional photographer made your truly stand and pose all around the Mustang that I was taking delivery and it was a scene straight from FTV (except it was me in a suit instead of models in their birthday suits on FTV). He kept clicking away and promised me a CD full of pictures that he'd make into a portfolio. I assure readers of my blog that when the professional photos come in, I'll splash them all over this article. Meanwhile, you'd have to do with the pictures from my camera, some of those that make me look like an ant in a suit. The big event was when the delivery manager handed over the keys to the Mustang and more pictures of that were taken.
(Me in a suit is an unusual sight to most of my friends)
An extensive pre flight of the airplane was carried out with the delivery pilot and technical manager from Cessna walking self and acceptance test pilot Andre' from my company. They wheeled the airplane out to the tarmac and we took off for a flight that last a little over an hour, taking her up to 34,000 feet. The Aircraft performed very well indeed, better than expected. Although it is a shiny new Aircraft, there are usually some surprises and squaks (maintenance problems) during an acceptance. Not in this one, behaved flawlessly. A few issues with paint touch ups were the only thing we could report.
(None of my photos are brilliant but here they are anyway- N235SS is the registration of my Mustang SS stands for SEAJET Services, my Singapore company)
Going in for a spot of lunch, we had a good time with aviation related banter. In a room full of aviators, it's usually a laugh fest when there are tall stories told and jokes being passed around, all of them real life incidences. Some aviators I know, should write about all their experiences, if not for selling books, at least something to remember by and share with others who'd be interested in such tales. I'd be one of them. I digress, unfortunately, and let me continue the events of this day.
Post lunch, there was documentation to do, signatures to be affixed, to have titles passed, escrow accounts released, the airplane paid for etc etc, the usual stuff that one has to do when one buys an airplane. The Mustang was represented to me after they had polished and buffed up the portions we had asked for and I was headed into a large room full of manuals, equipment and other loose items that go with each new airplane. Going through lists, more signatures and they loaded up the Mustang with the freebies. I was presented with a Sheep Skin jacket with the Mustang logo and serial number of my Aircraft embossed on it. It's so heavy that it felt like I was wearing the whole sheep, not just the jacket. I'd cook in Singapore if I wore the jacket but it will come in handy when I go across the pond. For non aviation guys, going across the pond means crossing the North Atlantic. I'd be making stops for refueling in Greenland and Iceland before crossing over to the U.K. and through Europe, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, India, Thailand and finally home in Singapore. I'm going to blog about the ferry.
(Andre' and me)
It was time to bid farewell to the guys at the Mustang facility in Independence as we took off into thunderstorms and headed back to Wichita. My Mustang is in the service centre as I write this, getting the documentation for an export certificate of airworthiness. The work should complete in a few days and I'd be ready to leave on the ferry flight on the 1st of May. I went to the service centre hangar today as well, saw my Mustang and met with people who got me enrolled on the CESSCOM program. I'll be going there again tomorrow, more meetings, more stuff to do in preparation for the ferry and export paperwork. What a day it was, a day that I'll never forget. It hasn't sunk into me yet, that this lone Mysorean becomes the first Indian, Mysorean and Asian to get the first ever brand new Citation Mustang to the continent of Asia. There's more to come for sure but the first one will always feel good when I remember the events in my later years.