Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Cirrus SR22-G3: Brazil Or Bust!

After our first flight in the newest Cirrus over San Francisco, we couldn’t wait to fly one all the way to Brazil

cirrus sr22-g3Wow, now that’s a lot of trees. I’m 9,500 feet over the Amazon rain forest, and the only thing I see from horizon to horizon is a bumpy carpet that’s toned British-racing green. A couple days ago, I set off from the Cirrus plant in Duluth, Minn., for what was then a distant port, pointing the nose of this spanking-new Cirrus SR22-G3 south and saying to myself, as I climbed to my initial cruise altitude, “São Paulo or bust.”" />

cirrus sr22-g3Nevertheless, during this long flight to São Paulo (where, door to door, I’ll be clocking about 35 hours onto the Hobbs meter), I’m concerned less about the exotic woods not available for the Cirrus interior and more with keeping the 310 hp Continental IO-550N happy and well-fed, for it’s all that stands between me and the exotic woods in the dense rain forest below. In the 600-or-so hours that I’ve spent at the helm of various Cirri, I like to think I have a pretty good operating flow down, but for this flight, I’ve expanded that flow to include ensuring that my machete, folding knife and bottled water are within easy reach or eyeshot. Running my finger along the machete’s blade, I’m reminded of the memorable line Crocodile Dundee says while being mugged in New York, “That’s not a knife… Now that’s a knife.”

It’s hard to visualize how big the Amazon region of Brazil really is, and how far apart airports are, until one sees for oneself. The Amazon is the largest forest in the world, and from where I’m sitting, I believe it. It’s so big, and I’m so far from any real airport or suitable landing site, I really appreciate the G3’s extra 11 gallons of useful fuel, which brings our steed’s total to 92 useable. I already appreciated having more gas with all the overwater flying we had done just to get this far. Shortly after getting my license in the New York City area, I had thought of overwater flying as a roughly four-mile crossing of the Long Island Sound to Connecticut, or heading east from Hyannis, Mass., to either Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. Bah! That’s nothing! At one point yesterday, we were 70 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico with not a sliver of sand in sight. Alternate airports? That’s funny.

Attention! Parachute inside
Now, as I’m looking down at the crowded rain-forest canopy, I’m trying to figure out if it would be better to ditch out in the Atlantic—of course, we had a four-person life raft on board—or to try to put it down in the middle of a forest populated with I don’t know what. I had already decided that if anything bad happened over the trees, I’d pop the chute, still standard on all Cirrus aircraft. At least then, rescuers and indigenous people could easily locate the spot where I became dinner to a jaguar or anaconda. All the more reason to keep our new, flat-6 Continental purring like a kitten, er, I mean, jaguar.

On this leg, from Manaus, the capital of the Amazon state, to (depending on weather and time) either Alta Floresta, Sinop, or Barra do Garças, having that additional fuel adds exponentially to your peace of mind, and to your options. Indeed, 262 miles south of Manaus, we changed our destination to SBBW, Barra do Garças, 1,027 miles south of Manaus. In the G1 and G2, where I’d run “best economy,” and cap flights at five hours plus reserve, this would have been impossible. Flight time on this leg will now total about six hours, upon which the computers say we’ll land with 16 gallons of fuel—definitely within my comfort zone, though I’ll desperately need to stretch my legs and hit the toalete (you figure it out).


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