Lancair gate-crashes Cirrus party at San Luis Obispo airport

Not that anybody was unhappy about it. It was a fun day at SBP today. Came in from San Jose RHV in my (blush) C150 and was assigned a transient ramp space to the right of what I assumed was a Lancair kit-plane (after all, only 3 or 4 Columbia 300s exist). Boy, was I in for a surprise: Somebody pointed out to me that it actually was one of the Columbia 300 demo planes!

(Not that it’s not clearly written on the fuselage…)

About 20 minutes later, Walt and his wife arrived

from Monterey in his SR20, and was assigned a ramp space to the left of the Lancair. Nice lineup: A $188K SR20, a $285K Columbia 300 and my $14K 1977 Cessna 150.

Both of the planes were open and people could take turns climbing into the pilot’s seat. Walt is a cool guy and just loves his SR20 and also loves showing it off. And we all appreciated that. Asked, he did admit that he encountered “a handful” of squawks, which have been fixed free of charge, and that some of them are still baffling the factory engineers. For instance, he has already had two vacuum pump failures, the second one failed after a mere 34 hours.

From the layman’s viewpoint (I’m still a student pilot and had to bring my CFI, Brian, along for this flight which was logged as a X-country), the Columbia 300 and the SR20 are remarkably similar in appearance. Both have wings that change the camber in midwing, both have these small circular LoPresti-style air intakes in front, both have a HUGE moving map display mounted in the middle of the panel and both have opted to put the avionics into a subpanel in the center console, freeing up space for the above-mentioned display on the main panel.

From the layman’s perspective, the differences seem minor (ignoring the hardly minor difference of almost 100 grand in sticker price and the 30 knot difference in cruise speed and the 110 hp difference in engine power): The Lancair’s stick is, well, a real stick (like a joystick) whereas the Cirrus’ half-yoke looks like if someone mounted a pistol grip to a yoke rod, not hanging down as a pistol grip does but rather sticking up.

I slightly favor the Cirrus over the Lancair, because of its more reasonable price, and because 40? 50? of them are already flying and hence more squawks are being discovered and fed back into the factory assembly process and QA process. Walt can testify to the latter.

I had to leave a few minutes before 1 p.m., and hence missed any demo flights. Walt was going to take Jeff, a SR20 position holder, for a short flight and I don’t know about the Lancair sales rep: Although the Lancair was open, he didn’t seem to be around. Seems he was not concerned about someone hotwiring it and flying it to some private airstrip in Arizona, transponder off.

But I’m sure other people will post their demo flight impressions in this discussion forum shortly.


Cessna N714SS, RHV

I had to leave a few minutes before 1 p.m., and hence missed any demo flights.

Walt said he took 4 or 5 people for flights, the Lancair didn’t do any demos. Walt took some more pictures (give a man a digital camera, and look what happens!) and I’ve put a few of them up on

the page.