Aviation buffs only: heartening update on the Cirrus jet

Even non-buffs might be attracted to the several videos listed on this page, where Cirrus Design officials talk viewers through the concepts, trade-offs, and progress stages involved in building the Cirrus Vision, their forthcoming "personal jet." 


I enjoy this not just because, in times of overall retrenchment, it's encouraging to see ambitious product development of any sort; and not just because in my dream life, in sharp contrast to my actual life, I would be able to have and fly one of these (~$1 million) airplanes. In my actual pre-China life I did own and fly one of their SR-20 propeller planes.

The extra pleasure for me is seeing the very people I first interviewed in Duluth ten years ago, when they had not yet delivered their first airplane to their first customer, having come so far while maintaining the same sense of excitement and passion. You'll see two of those people on the main video at the site: the CEO, Alan Klapmeier, who introduces the video, and the designer Mike Van Staagen, who when I met him was building models of cockpit interiors out of clay and wood and now is Vice President of Advanced Development. Such people bring us the new things we enjoy, and not just in the world of airplane nuts.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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