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Twenty Years Of Cirrus Piston Singles

These machines were made for traveling in style. That’s exactly how they’re used.

Cirrus G5 SR22 - Twenty Years Of Cirrus Piston Singles

It’s a critical step of product development to understand what purpose the thing you’re building will serve. From the start, the SR22’s raison d’être was cross-country traveling, and it has gotten better and better at just that, and not by accident.

I’ve flown every model of Cirrus up through 2021, but one of my most memorable flights was with the author of this feature, Gary Black, who at the time worked for Cirrus and occasionally demonstrated new planes to excited aviation writers, like me. It was with Gary in Teterboro in the early 2000s that I first flew the newly launched SR22. It was, in short, an SR20 with a bigger engine, a Continental IO-550. Any reservations I’d had about the product were answered with the best retort in all aviation, more power. It climbed at 1,000-plus fpm, it cruised at around 180 knots, and it did it with fixed gear, a side-yoke, a whole-airplane parachute, great visibility and loads of room.

It was, and I knew it immediately, and I said so at the time, the future of high-performance light aviation. And with more than 8,000-plus SRs having been delivered since then, I guess I was right about that.

During that time, I’ve flown the SR22 (and the underappreciated SR20) more than 1,000 hours and have traveled to every corner of the country, with a few jaunts in South America and in Europe. I’ve flown it on business, a lot, in fact, for family transportation, and very occasionally, just for the pure joy of it. I’ve flown many dozens of approaches in actual conditions to or near minimums, I’ve flown it for hundreds of hours sipping O2 through the cannula as I motored along, dodging the big clouds in the high teens at 200 knots or better.

There are a lot of great airplanes in the world, and I am by no means a fan girl of the SR22 or of Cirrus the company. I have always been and remain a critical observer. But there is so much that the company has done with this line of piston singles to push along the state of the art in light aviation. And it continues to do that. The SR22 is a very expensive machine. It’s also a very sophisticated machine, one that does precisely what its designers meant for it to do, go fast, fly high and go down the airway a good stretch, all in high style.

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