Saturday, July 5, 2008
The coolest airplane ever built soared skyward on its first flight this past Thursday. Cirrus Design, makers of the most awesome propeller-driven aircraft, have now achieved a major victory in their development of a personal jet. I’ve eagerly anticipated this event since I first learned about the Cirrus jet last summer.
As a boy, I lived and breathed flying. I read stacks of books about airplanes, spent hours talking with an old WWII pilot in my neighborhood, and loved to hang out at the airport and watch the planes. Many times I lay on the grass staring upward into the sky and dreaming of flight. I just knew someday I would learn to fly. But like so many other boys, I eventually let my dream of flight get pushed aside.
A few years ago my excitement resurfaced. I became interested in building a home-built plane called the Cozy MK-IV, a design based on Burt Rutan’s Long-EZ. The canard design with the pusher prop makes the plane so appealing. But eventually I decided spending 3,000 hours building a plane wasn’t for me, and the dream began to fade away again. I couldn’t get excited about flying a Cessna.
Then something funny happened. My kids all inherited my excitement about airplanes, and my wife decided we should take the family to the annual fly-in event in nearby Sandpoint, Idaho. We walked around looking at the huge variety of aiplanes, and one plane in particular caught my eye. Everything about this plane was so perfectly gorgeous. I had no idea what it was, but I took some pictures and googled it when I got home.
It turns out the plane was a Cirrus SR-22 GTS. Wouldn’t you know that I fell in love with one of the most expensive small planes Cirrus Design makes!
But then I discovered something even more exciting. Not satisfied with producing the best piston-powered planes ever built, Cirrus was developing their own personal jet. As cool as the SR-22 might be, “The Jet” has completely lapped it in the coolness department. I honestly never really aspired to being obscenely rich until I saw photos of the jet mock-up. Nothing could be more amazing than flying that airplane.
Cirrus has rekindled my long-suppressed dream of learning to fly. I’m in the thick of getting my software company off the ground, and for now that consumes a huge amount of my time. But this is a dream that just won’t die. When I learn to fly, it’s going to be in a Cirrus plane. And someday, if I’m really, really lucky, I’m going to break the bonds of earth in the left seat of a Cirrus Jet.