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Springthorpe calls the aircraft he’s owned for business "time machines." Instead of going through airport security and waiting through airline delays, he says having access to general aviation gives him his life back.
On paper, John Springthorpe didn’t look like the kind of guy who was ready to move from his single-engine turboprop to a single-pilot jet. He had been flying his TBM850 for five years, logged more than 1,000 hours in it and was on the board of directors of the owners’ association. Springthorpe’s company even prints the group’s magazine. Still, the businessman and pilot wanted more from his aircraft and himself.
"I started thinking I’d like to do something faster, higher," he said. "That’s what everybody thinks about. But I was really drawn to the added proficiency it takes to be good at flying a jet aircraft."
He says he didn’t want to assume too much about his skill level, so he began his transition deliberately. He first brought up the idea to his instructors during his recurrent training. Based on the proficiency Springthorpe had already demonstrated in his turboprop, they said he was capable of earning a jet type rating.
With the help of a friend who had a Citation® Mustang®, Springthorpe earned his first type rating and flew a total of 60 hours, including two major trips. He knew he was ready to make the move permanent and decided to buy a jet.
"There’s not a pilot alive as they’re progressing through their flying career who doesn’t think, ‘Boy, I’d like to fly a jet.’ Anybody who tells you differently is lying to you."
John Springthorpe, Citation® M2® pilot
"I’d been all over the world in my TBM and felt pretty comfortable in it. I felt like that comfort level was possible, with practice, in a different airplane."
But being such an active member of the TBM owners' group made the decision tough for him and his wife.
“Part of the thing that delayed me in making my choice was I didn’t want to give up the social aspects of it,” the former board of directors member recounted. "It was a struggle for my wife and I, perhaps more so than anybody would ever believe. It’s supposed to be about the airplane, but this was a community we had become part of."
Still, he wanted to be a more proficient pilot, and owning and flying his own jet was the best way to do that.
After taking delivery of his Citation M2®, it took just five months for Springthorpe to log his one hundredth hour in it. Most of those trips were for work between his home in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, and offices in Alabama, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Arizona. His most memorable early trip was the one he and his wife took to Europe, proving becoming a better pilot is as fun as it is fulfilling.
"You get to demonstrate your professionalism on every single flight,” explained Springthorpe. “The M2 is not hard to fly. That’s probably the biggest surprise to someone who’s never been in a Citation before. It’s not hard to fly a jet, but you have to be precise. That perhaps is the personal challenge that exists every time you get in the cockpit."
Springthorpe’s transition was ideal. He’s becoming the pilot he always wanted to be and is already entertaining thoughts of more speed and greater range. But most importantly, he’s still talking airplanes every chance he has with friends, old and new.
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