Spokane did such a good job hosting a one-day fly-in for pilots last summer that a premier maker of small aircraft is planning to return next year. Cirrus Aircraft, of Duluth, Minnesota, will bring its annual proficiency seminar to Spokane International Airport on June 13 and 14.
The event may attract as many as 50 Cirrus planes and another 150 pilots or owners of the aircraft from around the country.
The plane is used both as a corporate aircraft and for general civil aviation. The SR22 model can fly at more than 200 mph with a range of more than 1,200 miles.
The single-engine propeller plane has an all-glass cockpit and composite construction. Its safety features include an airframe parachute system that can be deployed if the plane is disabled in flight, allowing the aircraft to float gently to the ground.
It has an automatic leveling system, a side stick control, advanced avionics, air bags and seat belts.
It is not cheap. The starting model SR20 goes for $500,000. There are only eight Cirrus owners in the Inland Northwest. The top-end model, the Vision SF50, comes with a turbine jet engine.
Because of its performance and features, the plane’s pilots and owners often are eager to learn more about their craft.
Spokane is considered a good location for the Cirrus seminar because owners and pilots can fly here commercially and take advantage of the ground seminars and flying instruction that will be available, said Charlie Archer, general manager of Aircraft Solutions at Spokane International Airport.
“The airspace (in Spokane) is easy to traverse,” he said. The likelihood of good weather was another consideration in choosing Spokane, he said.
Aircraft Solutions provides maintenance for Cirrus planes. Its Northwest Flight School subsidiary offers instruction on flying the Cirrus.
One of next year’s seminar sessions will teach spouses how to land the plane if the regular pilot is disabled and can’t continue to fly.
Archer said he hopes to be able to offer the seminar for two to three years consecutively.
Last August, the national Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association drew a huge gathering of a few thousand airplane enthusiasts for its regional fly-in at Felts Field.
The success of that event led to Cirrus’ decision to return for its annual seminar, Spokane airport spokesman Todd Woodard said.
The company was sold to China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. in 2011 but remains in the U.S.