We Put The World’s First Single Engine Personal Jet To The Test On A Memorable Real - World Trip
There’s a great scene in the classic John Hughes film Ferris Bueller’s Day off in which Ferris (Matthew Broderick), having “borrowed” his friend Cameron’s father’s 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California for a day of top-down reverie in and around Chicago, turns to the camera and asks, “If you had access to a car like this, would you take it back right away?” After a beat: “Neither would I.”
My time in the Vision Jet was kind of like that. You see, several months ago the marketing folks at Cirrus suggested I appraise the airplane in a way I might if I actually owned it. Take it on a trip, they suggested. Keep it for a couple of days, they said. Bring the wife along.
Really? I’ve flown some cool airplanes to interesting locales, but I can’t recall anyone ever tossing me the keys to a newly certified jet and saying, “Have fun.” But if they were game, that’s exactly what I planned to do.
I piqued my wife Kate’s interest in the possibilities that awaited us with the inducement of a trip aboard a “private jet.” People in the aviation industry avoid that term, but I don’t see why. Customers love their private jets, and they’re the ones writing the checks, after all. Rarely does anyone outside of aviation use the more staid term “business jet.” And anyway, the Vision is no garden-variety bizjet. Cirrus calls it the world’s first single-engine “personal jet.” After flying the SF50 for two blissful days in early May, I agree wholeheartedly — personal is the perfect description for this category-busting little jet.
I suggested to Kate that we head south to warmer latitudes, and we quickly settled on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, a place neither of us had visited. Charleston Executive Airport (KJZI), an uncontrolled field on Johns Island between Kiawah and the city of Charleston, has sufficiently long runways and a great little FBO with rental cars. It would be an easy two-hour flight from our home field of Morristown Municipal Airport (KMMU) in New Jersey down the East Coast to South Carolina for what I promised her would be the most epic “date night” we’d probably ever experience.
Kate has flown many times in light general aviation airplanes, but never in anything with an air stair door. When I showed her a photo of what she’d be whisked away in, hoping to fan the flames of anticipation, she furrowed her eyebrows. “That puny thing?” she said. “Yikes.” Yes, the Vision is an unusual-looking airplane, and as far as jets go it’s, shall we say, diminutive. In fact, the first time I saw an artist’s rendering of one several years ago I thought it was ugly. The V tail with the turbofan engine sitting atop the fuselage was just so weird. But slowly my attitude softened. By the time I had the chance to see a Vision Jet up close, I marveled at the smart use of the interior space and the gorgeous Perspective Touch flight deck up front. If we’re being honest, there’s really only one way to describe the Vision Jet: It’s just so undeniably cool.
Kate and I met up with Matt Bergwall, Cirrus Vision program manager, at KMMU for our introduction to the airplane that would be taking us to the land of championship golf courses, tidal creeks and puff mud — the slippery, shiny brown-gray sucky sludge on the banks of the Low country salt marshes that smells horrid but is supposedly good for your skin. Matt would fly in the right seat and serve as my guide to the Vision’s many capabilities.
After a walk-around, we loaded our bags into the unpressurized aft cargo hold and climbed aboard. A personal jet doesn’t need to be big, but the Vision is surprisingly spacious where it counts — on the inside, with huge cabin windows that let in lots of natural light and give it the feeling of a much larger airplane. Kate settled into the comfortable-looking leather seat that beckoned to her from the entryway, stretched out her legs and said, “Wow, this is nice. Plenty of room back here.”
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