Short Final: Need For Speed


I sometimes fly SIC on a Citation X based in the Dallas area, and on this occasion, it was my first “real” flight after simulator training. We were heading to Las Vegas, cruising at about 39,000 feet and Mach 0.92. I was thinking about the SR71 “ground speed” story often repeated on aviation forums and wishing to tell someone about our speed. Right then, it happened.

LA Center: “Citation 123, say Mach.”

Me (smiling): “Citation 123, Mach 0.92.”

LA Center: “Southwest 456, say Mach.”

SWA 456: “Mach 0.75, SW 456.”

LA Center: “Citation 123, slow to Mach 0.78 or less.”

Me: (accidently over the air): “Damn.”

Paul Sergeant

Allen, TX

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  1. Until more modern days when big airplanes started flying much higher, we were not a problem in our C-141’s flying the world at .74. The reason no one cared was that we were always up well above the crowd. Those big “lifty” wings would always start us out several thousand feet above the crowd and we would keep step climbing after that. It was fun up there all alone till engines got better and the “crowd” started going higher as well.

  2. Sounds typical, if you’re going to a busy airport you can only go as fast as the guy in front of you on the arrival. Even that’s not enough sometimes when we get those vectored turns for spacing.

  3. DTW CBA used to top out at 10k. It has a cutout around SVM VOR. I was at 10.5 VFR over the CBA to SVM and start descending into KPTK. IRC, it was about 900 FPM descent, and in my Mooney, it wrapped up IAS pretty quick. One day I was asked to reduce speed for the citation in front of me. Laughing, I confirmed I would reduce my single engine Mooney’s speed for the slowtation. It was a challenge, but I got slowed up enough to create separation… right up until they got last laugh and taxied down the entire runway, forcing me to go around.