...Challenging Flying...

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Customs pilots normally fly drug interdiction missions off the coast but they also rotate through Washington on temporary duty. They work 12 hours on, 12 hours off waiting for the call to scramble. And while the time away from home and the long days are hard, Cox said there's nothing like the flying. The Citation, with the same radar used in F-16s added inside its bulbous nose, races at full speed to the intercept at which point, in most cases, Cox has to throttle back and hang everything out to match the speed of the (generally single-engine piston) target. "It can be challenging flying," he said. "I once got the tail number of an Ercoupe that was only doing 80 knots." Cox said the wide speed range of the Citation makes it a suitable platform for this kind of work and the pilots are well-accustomed to the go-fast, go-slow mission profile from their experience stemming the flow of illegal drugs headed into the country by air. "Smuggling by air has pretty much stopped," he said.