Like early models of many well-known airplane types, the first Cirrus SR22s felt lighter than they do today. In part, that’s because they were light, and in part that’s because Cirrus has learned over the years how to make an airplane be both substantial feeling, which we pilots like, while staying light.
They also felt very different from most other light airplanes because they were, well, different from them in many important regards. They used side-yokes, as I mention in the main story, differential braking and a rudder/aileron interconnect (gone on today’s models), all of which gave it, for better or for worse, a distinctive feel.
Those early airplanes also had few options. No air conditioning, no TKS, no flat-panels. It was a what-you-see-is-what-you-get airplane.
It would also turn out to be the most successful single in the world, at least for a time, outselling every other piston single (or twin, for that matter) despite being one of the most expensive models available.
While it looks similar to the first model, today’s Cirrus SR22 is better in nearly every respect. It has a stronger, faster, lighter wing with more fuel capacity, better, more durable gear, a near state-of-the-art avionics suite, synthetic and enhanced vision options, and more.
It also costs a lot more. The first Cirrus SR22 was priced preposterously low, at less than $200,000. Today’s is around $700,000, a more than three-fold increase. It’s true that customers are getting a lot more airplane in the deal, and it’s also true that Cirrus has learned a thing or two about how much they have to charge to make money on an airplane.
Here’s a look at some of the milestones on the SR22’s remarkably innovative march through the decade.