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Sun, Oct 16, 2005

WMU Students Eagerly Eye First Two Cirrus Airplanes

30 Aircraft Expected By Next Summer

When you were, say, 13 or so, did your dad ever bring home a brand-new, sleek and shiny new car? Were you excited to just be able to ride around the block in it, taking in the new car smell and dreaming of the day you'd be able to drive it around on your own?

If so, Western Michigan University students can relate. The students, enrolled in WMU's College of Aviation, no doubt felt some deja vu Friday as they watched two new Cirrus aircraft descend at W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek.

"I'm looking forward to flying it!" said student Marcus Williams to the Kalamazoo Gazette as he sat inside one of the planes, holding the side stick, and gazed upon the two flat-panel MFDs as a Cirrus representative demonstrated some of the plane's features.

He later joked he'd be willing to play flight attendant, just to be able to fly in one of the airplanes (just like I offered to wash Dad's car -- Ed.)

Williams won't have to wait for long to fly the aircraft. The planes are the first of 30 planned for the university's aviation program. The mix of SR20s and SR22s are destined to replace the college's current fleet of 39 Cessna 172s.

As was reported in Aero-News, the 10-year, $40 million contract between WMU and Duluth, MN-based Cirrus Design Corp. will also supply the university with new aircraft every two years. The college intends to pay for the aircraft with funds expected from sale of the Cessnas, as well as from expected maintenance savings and cash reserves.

"Everybody in the college has been buzzing about it," said student Brian Swintal.

The advanced Cirrus airplanes are expected to introduce WMU students to levels of technology they're expected to encounter once they entire the commercial aviation realm. Each Cirrus features crash avoidance systems, ground proximity alarms and the BRS parachute recovery system.

"This is really going to prepare students for their life outside of Western," said Brian Herm, a flight instructor.

Of course, in student's eyes, it certainly doesn't hurt the airplanes are also sleeker and faster than the Cessnas they replace...

FMI: www.cirrusdesign.com, www.wmich.edu/aviation/

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