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Sat, Jun 14, 2003

A Swarm of Cirri, A Gaggle of Glass...

The First Annual COPA Migration Is Off To A Roaring Start

ANN's Jim Campbell has spent the last two DAYS beating the bejesus out of a Cirrus SR22 in Duluth, MN... full gross takeoffs and landings, max performance ops, lots of real IFR, rain, fog, confusing controllers, working an Avidyne PFD right down to it's integrated circuits, short field ops, and doing his best to scare one of Cirrus's Ace Flight Instructors, Thom Levecque, half to death.

Add to that, the fact that this is also the start of the First Annual Cirrus Migration and the impressive even imposing, sight of what appears to be the better part of 100 Cirri invading the ramps of Duluth's International AirPatch (as seen in the photo above, with Cirrus Design's Dale and Alan Klapmeier) and you have what we at ANN call an "interesting" weekend. Jim will be filing more in-depth reports over the next few days, as well as the first in a series of stories looking at what he justifiably calls the epitome of the "State Of The Art" in the GA world, the Cirrus SR22.

It's been an interesting process as Jim has not only done everything the hard way, (every flight starts at full gross), but worked out a number of real-world tasks for the fully-equipped (PFD, anti-ice, STec 55, TrafficWatch, ham-handed journalist/PIC, you name it) SR22 to accomplish... including a fair amount of real-live IFR with a number of coupled approaches (ILS and GPS), quasi-automated intersection holds, as well as operations out of a series of long and short runways near the Duluth, MN area. The SR22 took it all well, and demonstrated an amazing level of system maturity and a surprising degree of integration through an arduous series of VFR and IFR operations (you should see this thing execute a Garmin-guided GPS/DME Arc...). While a number of birds are developing similar capabilities, there is nothing that can currently offer the capabilities and the truly mature system integration of the production SR22. To say that Campbell was impressed is an understatement... both for what Cirrus has accomplished, as much as for the fact that the GA "bar" has now been set higher than ever before. Watching the industry try to compete with this new standard can only benefit us all.

In the meantime, the Cirrus Owner's and Pilot's Association has put together a dynamic and very pleasant event that is allowing hundreds of Cirri folk to get together, enjoy each other's fellowship and spend some time getting updated and educated about their airplanes. This gathering has it all... a chance to socialize under some very classy and visually stunning conditions, a small trade-show, a series of well-targeted seminars, and plenty of opportunities for one on one training and maintenance consults with the Cirrus staff.

So, with only a day of the three day event behind them, the COPA folks have already found themselves at the helm of what appears to be a very successful and well-organized event that, in the future, will probably come to be a standard-bearer.

Best of all, Jim says, "This thing is simply one of the classiest gatherings I've attended in quite a while... both in terms of how it's been conducted, as well as the type of people who are attending. Yes, they're having fun... check back in a day or two and we'll fill you in why this is turning out to be such a big deal."

FMI: www.cirrusdesign.com, www.cirruspilots.org

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