If you’re into aviation, you’ll likely know about Cirrus Aircraft because they’ve been around for awhile — since 1984 to be precise — however you may not have heard of their latest innovation, the Vision Jet.
They’ve come a long way since the two founders started building airplanes now more than thirty years ago in a barn in Baraboo Wisconsin.
The result was their original flagship product, known as the SR20. Today, they’re selling around 300 of that upgraded model (the SR22) a year at a price point of around a half million U.S. dollars. This jet seats four passengers and maxes out at 245 mph.
And so, when I heard about their launch activities to promote their new Vision Jet, which soars at 345 mph and seats five adults and two children, we had to experience it first hand.
Truth be told, I’ve always loved planes and have friends who have owned a myriad of planes over the years, from two seaters and helicopters to private jets that we used to travel to the D Conference every year (now ReCode).
Living in Silicon Valley is a bit unique in that your VC friends and even small to mid-sized business owners will opt to buy a plane if they do a lot of travel and that is less common in other parts of the world, except for perhaps in luxury hot spots like Monte Carlo, Paris, London, Singapore, Tokyo, Oslo, Zurich, Miami and LA. Sometimes, the ROI just works.
The new Vision Jet is priced at around $2 million, which is pricier than its cousin, the SR22, however apparently its revolutionary technology and aviation features make it around half the cost of its competitors and the operating costs are less all around. Sweet, right?
But, what if you’re not a business owner or a VC where the ROI makes more sense?
Certainly, you could go in on a purchase with several friends or do the next best thing – charter a jet when you need to impress or simply want a whole lotta luxury and pampering to get from point A to B.
It really makes sense most when you don’t have a lot of time and want to optimize that time in your destination or for a special occasion. Short distances make the most sense.
For example, on my trip out of Oakland airport, we were above Napa Valley in about 15 minutes. Imagine a weekend getaway from the Bay Area to Las Vegas or Los Angeles and it takes a fraction of the time to get there.
OR, if you want to go skiing in Sun Valley from San Francisco. Or, what about for a romantic surprise from LA or San Francisco to Sedona? You get the idea.
On our two or so hour trip, we spanned the Bay Area from north to south but spent most of our time heading north from Oakland Airport, over the Golden Gate Bridge (which was sadly fogged in) up to Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the lower views weren’t spectacular — the nice thing about this plane is that you can go lower than commercial aircraft.
I’ve been meaning to take a helicopter ride over the Bay Area and this experience was about as close as you’ll get to the same thrill. Hand gliding would also be great over Northern California of course, so that’s next on the list.
Views above and below were taken from the back and front of the plane. Since there are so few seats and the windows are larger than commercial aircraft, you can really take advantage of the scenery.
What I haven’t mentioned yet, is that Vision Jet’s marketing and PR team invited us and a few other journalists and photographers to experience Vision Jet first hand, which extended a bit further than just a quick ride to Napa.
The pilot who is based out of Knoxville Tennessee, allowed each of us to navigate from the co-pilot’s seat. There’s something very alluring about having the stick in your hand and seeing the words left, right, down and up starring you in the face, all of which gives you the control of the plane. You start thinking: “which direction do I want to go?” or “what angle of the mountain ranges do I want to see?” and so on.
Because safety is such an important part of their design process, there’s one button that neutralizes the plane if something goes awry. And, as mentioned in our Q&A, their Airframe Parachute technology deploys a parachute that encompasses the entire airplane if things get really bad. Once the the chute is deployed, the airplane descends at approximately 25 feet per second.
Because Vision Jet is built entirely out of carbon fiber, they can manufacture a single-piece fuselage that provides amazing strength but with light weight that allows more flexibility than traditional planes in the same category. On the dashboard, you’ll see mountains, water and beyond on the screen regardless of weather conditions — they use Perspective Touch by Garmin which automates many of Vision Jet’s systems.
Vision Jet is designed to be flown by a single pilot, so whether you have the cash to buy one of these gems for yourself, could buy one with several friends or want to charter it for a special occasion, you’ll have the added benefit of more space, a smoother and quieter ride, and its additional safety features. And, you’ve got to admit, Vision Jet is also a very handsome aircraft. Below, the jet we experienced was designed in bright vibrant blue and white.
You’ll find the Vision Jet aircraft in red and white as well.
Above photo credit: Cirrus Aircraft
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