The Learjet Diaries – Greg Madonna
This book The Learjet Diaries is about a Learjet pilot flying charters out of South Florida mainly to countries in South America. It was a time that serious training of a freshly hired co-pilot flying professional passenger jets was non-existent and certainly not in the charter business. Things like cockpit resource management and thorough knowledge of the plane manual and systems were not examined before you could enter the right seat in the cockpit. You got briefed, seated and watch your captain flying the plane and bit by bit you learned how to handle the jet. And that is the nice aspect of this book. As a reader and maybe a general aviation pilot dreaming of an airline job you have the feeling that you experience all the tension, dramatic situations and near panicking moments yourself together with the author.
From the first step into the cockpit of a charter Learjet as a new hire were you just look and wonder when will I be ready to handle this hot machine myself you imagine yes this may happen to me also on my way up. Reading the book I sometimes thought oh how did he survive this situation or how did he save his neck when confronted with the unreliable airport officials in the South American countries. Although the author claims that his stories are fictional probably to avoid claims you as reader knows that that he is referring to actual situations to happened to him. Flying on near empty tanks and looking for an unfamiliar airport with no good working beacon or approach system and working with inaccurate flight charts with mountains around is asking for real trouble. Besides that air traffic control and weather forecast in those regions are unpredictable and that makes your life as pilot in this fast and high fuel burning jet sometimes very miserable. Stories like a flight to an Columbian airport that doesn’t answer your request for landing instructions while flying VFR in IFR conditions with near empty tanks and a panicking captain are fun to read but gives you goosebumps also.
Jet charter market
The Learjet Diaries gives you a good insight in the jet charter market that typically means flying on unexpected moments day and night and transporting all kind of persons most of them with a big wallet or governmental background and often VIP’s to unknown airports in all kinds of weather. Every reader being a pilot or not will enjoy reading the situations in which Greg Madonna sometimes ends up while flying to political unstable countries and which stories are sometimes funny, frightening or downright life threatening.
Special recommended if you want to know more about the adventurous side of commercial charter flying. Anyhow I liked the book very much.