In Which I Become a T-53A Pilot (Without Trying)

It appears that the U.S. Air Force Academy has decided to purchase a bunch of Cirrus SR20 airplanes for its flight training fleet, where they will be designated as T-53As. Here, via Cirrus, is an SR20 all dressed up as an Air Force trainer:


I bought an SR20 in 2000 and flew it extensively until 2006, when I sold it before moving to China. (On return last year, I bought a four-year-old SR22, big brother of the SR20 -- looks the same but is faster and can carry more.) So if any cadets are looking for T-53A flying tips, I will generously oblige.

Or, if they want to talk Sinology of any sort, happy to join in too. After all, the deal by which Cirrus was sold to China's main aerospace company has just gone through. Good to see this new step in Sino-American partnership: America's future airmen and airwomen being trained in a now Chinese-owned plane, known locally as the 西锐, or Xirui ("Cirrus"). 快乐飞行, men and women of the Air Force! Happy flying to you.
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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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