The Aviation department is pleased to announce the arrival of our first donated aircraft since receiving one in the 1940s. The Cirrus SR22 G2 Turbo was donated to our school by Mr. Don Elliot, who is a close family friend of a sophomore boarding cadet.
“The two biggest things I want to come out of this donation is to increase an interest in aviation and to motivate other plane owners to consider donating them instead of just selling them, especially to programs like the one you have here,” said Mr. Elliott, who is a former pilot in the Navy. “When I saw the type of aviation program Farragut has, I knew this would be a perfect place for the plane.”
Mr. Elliott, who has donated other planes in the past to a variety of organizations, had first offered the plane to the military school he had attended growing up in San Antonio, Texas, but the school did not have an aviation program and deduced it would be too difficult to manage. After taking a tour of Farragut and seeing what the Aviation Program has to offer, Mr. Elliott thought it was a no-brainer.
“It (the Aviation Program) is exactly what I had envisioned growing up for my school,” said Mr. Elliott, who served as a pilot for FedEx for 33 ½ years before retiring in 2004. “After my alma mater declined the offer, Farragut was my first choice due to the quality of the program.”
The plane will be kept and maintained at Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg, where the Aviation Program uses the Cessna fleet to train its student pilots. It will be used by Farragut for a variety of reasons including a leasing plan in which the airport will serve as a fixed-base operator (FBO) and lease the plane to renter pilots.
“Hopefully, we will be able to take any revenue generated from the airplane and implement it into our program for training at discounted cost,” said Rob Ewing, who heads the Aviation Program. “It’s also transportation so, administratively, if we need to go to Gainesville or Tallahassee, we can do that because it’s a fast airplane.”
Because of how fast and powerful the plane is, it won’t be used for training purposes by the students, although they will be able to fly in it. Eventually, though, with the proper certification, student pilots could operate the plane with a co-pilot.
Mr. Ewing flew the plane from Centennial Airport outside of Denver, CO to Albert Whitted airport in St. Petersburg. The total flight time was eight hours. On Monday, Mr. Elliott met with CAPT Fine and Mr. Ewing to finalize the charitable donation.
Fast facts about the Cirrus SR22 Turbo:
- The world’s best-selling, single-engine, four-seat aircraft every year since 2004, according to General Aviation Statistical Databook & Industrt
- Features twin turbonormalizers and twin intercoolers. Also included with the conversion is built-in oxygen and a Hatzell 3-blade lightweight composite propeller
- The turbo version has a certified ceiling of 25,000 feet (7,600 m), a maximum cruise speed of 211 knots (391 km/h), and a top speed of 219 knots (406 km/h)
- Was the first of its kind to come standard with an all glass cockpit.
- Equipped with Certified Flight Into Known Ice Protection System that covers every weather condition.
- Perhaps best known for being equipped with the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), an emergency whole-plane parachute capable of lowering the entire aircraft (and its occupants) safely to the ground after a loss of control, structural failure or mid-air collision. Recently, a pilot headed from California to Hawaii safely ditched his SR22T into the Pacific Ocean. The incident was caught on tape by the US Coast Guard, who were notified by the pilot before deploying the plane’s parachute.
- Serves as the main plane in the fleet of ImagineAir, the largest East Coast air taxi service headquartered in metro Atlanta. The company operates an average of 5,000 flights annually.