Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cirrus Jet Factory Tour

Yesterday my friend Marc invited me along to visit the Cirrus Jet factory in Duluth, MN. He would be flying me up there in his own Cirrus SR-22, which is a very cool single piston engine airplane. It's most widely known for having a parachute built in which will safely float the airplane to the earth's surface in the event of a tragic malfunction (like a wing falling off).

After a slight delay due to some weather, we took off around noon and headed up to Duluth. It was a quick 45 minute flight which gave us time to catch up on what was happening in our lives. Marc's airplane is beautiful! It comes with anti-icing capability, a 180 knot cruise speed (which means speeds over the ground of around 200 mph), low fuel burn, and a full glass cockpit (which for those who don't speak aviation, simply means all the instruments are on a "TV" screen instead of an analog display).

We arrived in Duluth and just happened to land behind the one and only Cirrus Jet. They aren't planning on The-Jet being available to the "average person" (that has an extra $1,000,000 laying around) until 2011. Since it's still in the production phase, this jet was being flown by highly skilled test pilots.

We followed the Cirrus Jet into the factory ramp and we were greeted by Kevin, who seemed delighted to show us around. I guess if they think you've even got the slightest inclination to buy one of their airplanes, they're happy to show you how they're made. Kevin brought us through the hangar and showed us the various different stations that the engineer's and mechanic's use to assemble the airplane. They're still working out flaws on a daily basis, so the people that work there are very busy.

Unfortunately, they don't allow cell phones or camera's in the building. They said it's so our cellular signal doesn't set off the "spin-chute". The "spin-chute" is found only on the airplanes they use for testing and is launched by a rocket, just in case they spin the airplane and can't recover during flight tests. I however think they don't want us using our cell phones because it's still in production and they don't want us recording anything that may be "top-secret" and selling it to their competitor. As a matter of fact, they didn't even let us within about 30 feet of the actual airplane.

After the tour, Marc and I jumped back in his Cirrus and headed home. I don't think I'll be buying a Cirrus Jet anytime soon, but spending a day with a good friend, who will let me fly his airplane, and learning how they build a new jet, isn't a bad way to spend a Friday afternoon.

The front of Marc's Cirrus SR-22.

A side view of the Cirrus SR-22.

The tail.

The Cirrus Jet, which can be yours for the low price of $1,000,000. Call now!

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