The King Air Book – Volume I
e-Book by Tom Clements
A TREASURY OF THIRTY-SEVEN YEARS OF FLYING AND TEACHING EXPERIENCE IN THE WORLD’S MOST POPULAR EXECUTIVE AIRCRAFT
Available in the USA, Canada, and Mexico. To purchase from within other countries email email@example.com or call 1-602-551-8100.
About the author
Since 1972, Tom Clements’ career has concentrated on a unique niche: The Beechcraft King Air series of turboprop twins. Starting as a flight and ground school instructor at the Beechcraft Training Center in Wichita. Tom advanced to become the head of that institution three years later, overseeing the factory’s pilot and maintenance training.
While at the Training Center, Tom authored numerous system descriptions, simplified schematics, and other documentation that were incorporated into the Beechcraft curriculum. He always enjoyed writing – English was his collage minor while Mechanical Engineering was the major! – and he found the creation of easy-to-understand technical material for pilot training to be very satisfying.
Leaving Wichita to return to California where he had served his Naval tour of duty, he formed his own training company in 1979 to provide high-quality, on-site, ground and flight training for operators of Beechcraft Dukes and King Airs. Flight Review Inc. moved its headquarters to Arizona in 1987 where Tom still resides most of the year. He is now fulfilling the honorary role of Director of Training for the King Air Academy in Phoenix.
Tom has had a long-term sideline in writing technical articles about flying in general and King Airs in particular for some aviation magazines. The Volume II of the King Air Book is a compilation of some ninety articles he has written since 2011 for the “Ask the Expert” column in King Air magazine.
Pilots and/or owners of any King Air will find these stories educational, insightful, and enjoyable.
- FORMAT – PDF
- REQUIRED SOFTWARE – Adobe Reader (recommended) or Other PDF Reader
- SUPPORTED DEVICES – All devices and operating systems supported by Adobe Reader or reader of your choice
- LANGUAGE – English
- FEATURES – Hyperlinked Table of Contents and keyword searchable
- PRINTABLE – Yes (single copy personal use only)
- ISBN – 978-0-578-04534-4
- PUBLISHED BY – Flight Review, Inc.
- PUBLISHED – 2009 – Revised June 2020
- COPYRIGHT – Tom Clements
PART 1 - FLYING TIPS
Your Four Friends
IFR Approaches – The Basics
When an Engine Quits
Whoa, Big Fella!
Steep Turn Tips
Using the Flight Director
Give Yourself a Checkride
King Air Piloting Tips
Utilizing the Track Display
Short Field Techniques
Leg Mode vs. OBS Mode
Thunderstorm Avoidance in the New Age
Using the BC Mode Correctly
PART 2 - TECHNICAL TOPICS
Starting PT6-Powered King Airs
The PT6 Fuel System
The Condition Lever
Pneumatic Fuel Management
Setting Cruise Power Correctly
Recording Engine Cycles
C90B Fuel Management
Bleed Air Usage Tips
Old Myths That Refuse to Die
Propellers – What Pilots Can Check
Autofeather – What a Great System!
300-Series Low Pitch Stops
King Air Ramblings
Hot Weather Ground
Cold Weather Ground Operation
Electric Heater Usage
Collins FCS-65 Flight Control System
SPZ-200A and SPZ-4000 Flight Control Systems
Collins AP-105 / FD-108 or FD-109 AP/FD System
Rudder Boost Systems
Cabin Air Circulation and Temperature Balance
The Lost Opportunity
Questions and Answers
PART 3 - BONUS EXTRAS
B100 Review and Commentary
Flying to Europe
Special Delivery to Japan
Flying the South Pacific
Early Flying Memories
I learned to fly in 1962 in New Castle, Indiana, between my Junior and Senior years of High School. My parents, Bill and Ruth Clements, were generous enough to offer to pay for my lessons if I retained my record of good school grades through my Junior year. I guess I met their goals, since they did indeed fund my Private Pilot rating. As you will read in the last chapter of this book, I always loved airplanes and flying…even though my first experiences aloft usually left me sick! As I took the lessons from Larry Barker, my first instructor, never did I think that aviation would wind up being my career. In my family, being a pilot wasn’t a high enough aspiration. One had to be a banker, doctor, lawyer, engineer, or other “professional”…and being a pilot, in their ignorance, wasn’t on that list. So, to me at the time, getting the Private Pilot license was simply a fun thing to do and something that would allow me to enjoy a neat hobby as I pursued my “real” career.
After graduating from Carnegie Institute of Technology – it changed its name to Carnegie-Mellon University on my graduation day – with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1967, I knew that Uncle Sam was eagerly awaiting young men like me for duty in Vietnam. “Let’s see now: Being drafted into the Infantry or enlisting in the Navy: Which is the more advantageous route?” I opted for the Navy. I enlisted and was sent to Officer Candidates’ School in Newport, Rhode Island, in August, 1967. A lucky break had me selected to interview with Admiral Hyman Rickover himself for the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program as an instructor of Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer at their school in Vallejo, California. Even though I told the Admiral that I’d prefer to be on a ship, he selected me as one of his officer cadre.
In January of 1968 I reported for duty at the Nuclear Power School at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, at the north end of San Francisco Bay. The job was challenging and educational, both for the students as well as myself, and I was proud to spend four years there, leaving the service with a rank of Lieutenant. However, I had a lot of free time on evenings and weekends and I used that time to extend my flying avocation with Commercial, Instrument, Multiengine, and Instructor ratings earned from Navajo Aviation, in Concord. With sufficient ratings, I started instructing on a part-time basis for John Thompson at Sonoma Skypark a small 2,500 foot strip, a little west of Napa. What fun!
As my four years and four months of Navy commitment neared its end as 1971 came to a close, I debated what the future would hold: Would I accept the offer to pursue an MBA at Harvard or would I follow my heart into an aviation career?
Crazy? You bet! I went with aviation. Maybe it was rebellion against my folks, maybe it was the “Do your own thing” mentality of the San Francisco hippies of the ’70s, or maybe it was God’s leading hand…I chose the path less travelled, and I have never regretted the decision.
Sending resumes to any entity that might consider a 1,500-hour pilot with most of the ratings, I started considering the replies. I was very near-sighted and thus knew that airline flying – as well as military flying – was not in the equation. I concentrated instead on instruction, demonstration flying, and corporate aviation.
Wonder of wonders, Beech Aircraft Corporation replied and wanted me to come to Wichita for an interview! Why would they consider a newbie like me? Well, because the instructors at the Beechcraft Training Center (BTC) taught both ground school as well as did flight training and Beech liked the fact that I’d survived four years of classroom teaching at Nuke School.
I passed the interview process and showed up for work on January 3, 1972. At that time, the Beechcraft Training Center was comprised of only five instructors, plus our boss, C. Don Cary, and JoAnn Louie, our fantastically-capable secretary. All of Beech’s training at the time was done in the classroom and in the airplane, no simulators. We covered the King Air models – at that time, only the 90, A90, B90, C90, 100, and A100 – as well as the Duke, or Beech model 60. “Look, Ma, a month ago I didn’t know what a King Air instructor was, and now I are one!”
I feel sorry in retrospect for my first few students…I was barely a page ahead of them in the book! I had great mentors there, however – Don Cary, Bob Dunfee, Alan Roberts, Bud Small, Mike Unsane, to name a few – and soon I was staying a good step or two ahead of our attendees.
The sales of general aviation airplanes entered a robust period at that time, following a slump in the late ’60s, and soon the BTC was humming with activity, forcing the instructors to work overtime and leading to a rapidly-expanding staff. I was assigned the C90 program and was the first instructor for the E90 that made its appearance that year, 1972. In late 1972 the prototype model 200 – then known as the model 101 – made its maiden flight, that I was thrilled to watch, and it went on to receive certification the next year. I was assigned to be the lead instructor on that new model and was trained in serial number BB-1 by Bud Francis, the chief test pilot on the program, and in BB-2 by Mike Preston, his number two man. What a huge step-up in performance the Super King Air 200 offered! What a joy to fly! Want to know what good airplane handling qualities are? Fly a BE-200. The military version of the model 200 – the C-12A – made its appearance in 1976 and that program was also my training responsibility.
In 1974 I was promoted to the lead Instructor Pilot position and a year later I was appointed head of the entire BTC, both pilot and mechanic training. When I decided to accept a position in the Beech sales organization in California in late 1976, our staff totaled eighteen people…a lot of growth in five years!
Being a salesman was not my cup of tea. For those who can successfully make the required hundreds of cold calls, follow-up with the few demonstrations, close the deal, deliver the airplane, and support the customer after the sale, my hat is off to them! I did not enjoy it nor did I do well at it. I missed the flying and instructing side of things.
My boss at the time, Larry Hall, head of the Beechcraft West distributorship in Fresno and Hayward, California, sensing my discomfort, offered me a leave-of-absence while I delivered BB-294 to the government of the Malaysian state of Sabah, on the island of Borneo, and where I then remained for four months, flying the plane while training the Malaysian crews.
That Asian sojourn was a real treat…fun, challenging, learning about a new location and culture, and getting paid a lot, too! During those months, I reached the inevitable conclusion that I did not wish to remain as a salesman but instead wanted to get back into active flying. Mr. Hall advised me that Beacon Oil Company, in Hanford, California – to which he and I had sold a model 200 – had their pilot leave unexpectedly and that they were wondering if I’d consider flying for them upon my return from Sabah. Yes!
My first wife was not willing to leave the Bay Area where we were living, so I commuted by car the four hours down to Visalia, where Beacon had their hangar, and remained there for most of each week, living in a cheap motel, while I decided whether or not to commit to a long-term relationship with this fine company. Had it been just myself, I would probably have accepted a full-time job there. As a married man, however, I decided to stay in the Bay Area.
What to do now? Some of us BTC instructors had made numerous trips away from Wichita to larger customers – General Motors, Marathon Oil, IBM, to name a few – to provide on-site training at their facilities, since it was cost-beneficial for those companies to pay for one instructor’s travel and expenses to their location instead of paying for ten or twenty of their pilots to travel to and stay in Wichita during training. Yet, when the demands for training grew so rapidly in the heydays of the ’70s, we no longer had enough staff to both meet our demands at the factory as well as to offer the on-site training option.
Beech’s decision to no longer provide on-site training planted the germ of an idea in my head…why not fill that niche? Thus, in January of 1979, Flight Review, Inc., was incorporated in Hayward, California, for the express purpose of providing on-site King Air and Duke Initial and Recurrent pilot training. Thanks to the contacts made through Beech, my services were rather readily accepted and my little company met with quick success. I think it was 1981 when I spent 232 nights in hotel rooms! I needed help!
David Yount – another ex-BTC employee – was the first instructor I hired to help me and I have been very blessed to have had two other absolutely marvelous, highly-talented, instructors give me their extremely loyal and competent service through the years: Eric Berger and Al Hancock. Also, Dianne Grollemond and Kathleen Reese, who served successively as my administrative assistants, provided invaluable service to me and to our clients. Without these capable and hard-working employees, Flight Review would not have enjoyed the success that it did.
Traveling to conduct training for twenty-one years was enough for me. I was becoming burnt out. In 1998, I contacted SimCom’s president and founder, Wally David, to see if he’d be interested in discussing a possible merger or buy-out. The outcome was that, in January of 2000, while I retained the Flight Review company name and the rights to sell my GPS and King Air training videos, SimCom received all of my training materials and my customer list. I signed a five-year, no-compete, contract. I spent three years working for SimCom in Scottsdale while the transition took place, then entered a semi-retired phase of my life, doing occasional flying, flight training, and aircraft management of some Phoenix-based King Airs.
In the early ’90s I was approached by Bob Goff and then Paul Neuda, asking me to write some technical articles concerning King Air operation for their respective magazines: Twin and Turbine and King Air Operators Group, that soon became Affiliated Aircraft Operator Groups (AAOG). I have always enjoyed writing – my college minor was English! – and I had written extensively at the BTC, creating most of the factory’s written handouts. I jumped at this chance to write on a regular basis. Both magazines paid me nothing – they did provide some free advertising – but I believed that the exposure would help my company grow.
Right? Wrong? Who knows. It’s what I chose to do.
My articles were met with appreciation from lots of my King Air pilot customers and later on I often heard the question, “When are you going to compile all of that information into a book?”
The answer is: Now. At last I have decided to expend the time and effort to make this book a reality.
Keeping in mind that these articles were written over nearly a fifteen-year period, not all of the information contained within them is current. For example, VOR/ILS navigation was the only way to go back before Loran and then GPS hit the scene. There are also topics that are discussed more than once. However, I have included nothing that I feel will be wasted on the readers.
Part 1 of this book, Flying Tips, includes the articles that, although written for King Air pilots, often contain suggestions and techniques that could be applied to almost any pilot in any airplane. Part 2, Technical Topics, definitely is meant solely for King Air operators. Reading this part should expand the pilots’ knowledge about how the airplane works and what can be done to maximize enjoyment, comfort, and safety while minimizing abuse to any system. Part 3, Bonus Extras, as the title implies, is where I have included additional material that I think the readers will find interesting, worthwhile, and fun.
When I started working for the Beech Aircraft Company it was still family-owned and the Chairman of the Board was that icon of American aviation, Olive Ann Beech, widow of the company’s founder, Walter Beech. (Flying Mrs. Beech in her King Air on some of the company’s business is a highlighted memory that I’ll always cherish!) Later, the company was sold to Raytheon and even later to an entity that calls itself Hawker Beechcraft. Some of the articles contain references to these other factory owners but, being an ex-“Beechcrafter” myself, Beech and Beechcraft are still my preferred methods of designating the manufacturer of the King Air series of airplanes.
I have now logged over 21,000 hours of flight time and over 15,000 of these have been in King Airs. If there is a higher-time, more experienced, King Air pilot out there, I am not aware of whom it may be. I have been truly fortunate to experience the career that I have in this workhorse of a flying machine. Probably no other executive transport would have provided me the depth and breadth of a customer base that allowed me to succeed in the manner I did.
The King Air has been very good to me. It is my ardent hope that this book will be good to those pilots who operate King Airs now and those who will do so in the future.