Flight Level 350

Doug Gagnon at Flight Level 350.
(350 millimetres that is!)

Question: Is this his (a) Takeoff? (b) Landing? (c) Cruise?

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(Photo by Bryan Quickmire from XSL with a digital Canon Pro90 IS.)

The Challenger is Doug's play plane - Doug's work plane is a Boeing 777.
As a captain for Korean Airlines Doug flies hops like Seoul to San Francisco.
As a Challenger captain sometimes Doug just splish-splashes around wet spots near home. Guess which plane is his favourite? The Challenger!

From the air force to the airlines, in 28,000 hours of flying, the intricate details of Doug's missions have mostly been preordained long before takeoff. Now in the Challenger he is finally experiencing one of the true joys of flight - spontaneity.

To give the Boeing its due, it can carry a handful more passengers than the Challenger - between 350 and 550 depending on the cabin configuration. It's also a hair faster - cruise speed is 0.84 Mach - about 550 mph - at 35,000 feet. The Challenger carries one passenger and at 350 millimetres does 0.11 Mach.

However, this all comes at a price. One single Boeing 777 costs US$238 million! You could buy a Boeing 747 for only US$215 million and save US$23 million.
Or buy a Challenger, including floats and skis, and save US$237.975 million.

The Challenger has other merits besides cost. For example, at takeoff Doug's Boeing weighs 660,000 pounds so he can't use grass strips. In fact the 200 foot wingspan of the Boeing is just about the size of a Challenger takeoff run!

Moreover, of that 660,000 pounds, 310,000 pounds is gas - 45,000 US gallons. That keeps the Boeing aloft for 20 hours and moves it 10,000 miles. That same 45,000 gallons will keep Doug's Challenger aloft 10,000 hours at max cruise power and 15,000 hours at economy cruise. That's 625 days! Instead of 10,000 miles it will move the Challenger 1,000,000 miles. ONE MILLION MILES!

Sooo ..., based on the above analysis we're going to propose that Korean Airlines sell their Triple Sevens and buy Challengers. It's a no brainer - each Boeing 777 sold gets them 9,520 Challengers! Stay tuned for their decision!

NEWSFLASH: In September 2003 Doug and Denise Gagnon flew their Challenger from Barrie, just north of Toronto, to Vancouver Island.
A mere 4,000 km - at altitudes up to 9,300 feet ASL!

Webmaster's Footnote: We thought you might be interested in a closer peek at Doug's work plane - click the pictures below for enlargements and captions.

We sometimes get asked why such a high percentage of Challenger owners are heavy duty pilots like Doug. Compared to other ultralights and kitplanes we have a huge number of commercial and military aviators as well as loads of former General Aviation pilots. Is the Challenger demanding or difficult to fly?

Au contraire, part of its appeal is that it's easy to handle and quite docile. The reason why high time flyers choose the Challenger is that they are steeped in aviation knowledge so they immediately recognize just how sweet the Challenger really is - not just the cost but the versatility. They have been around long enough to understand the uniqueness of this phenomena.

On the other hand, newbees to aviation often haven't yet developed the depth of perception to understand that all planes actually can't do this. Many haven't even got a strong sense of what attributes to weigh as evaluation criteria. Sadly they too often fall prey to the first fast-talking airplane salesman they meet. Pity!

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