Cirrus Rides Jet Stream To Record

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Thanks to the jet stream and the Cirrus SR22T's ability to find it, the speed record between Ontario, Calif., and Phoenix was shattered in late December by Airshares Elite pilot Justin Beitler. The Cirrus (a top-of-the-line airplane donated by the company for the flight) caught a big kick from the shift in the jet stream to average 271.2 knots on the trip (normal cruise is about 180). The previous record was 207 knots in a Mooney M20K set by Lee White and Larry Randlett in 2000. "The XM weather system helped me find the best winds, and the efficient turbocharged engine allowed me to cruise on less than 17 gallons per hour at over 270 knots," said Beitler. "At that speed, our offices in L.A. and Phoenix are only an hour and eleven minutes apart." The flight originated in L.A. but even though Beitler beat the previous mark for a flight to Phoenix in that category, he didn't claim the record. (Watch the video.)

The southern sweep of the high-altitude winds that made the Ontario-Phoenix record possible also brought horrible weather from the North Pacific with them, and the deluge of rain caused widespread flooding in California. Weather scrubbed his first attempt. There were some airspace issues, too, since Beitler wanted to cut directly across one of the main approaches to LAX. By Dec. 19, the weather and the FAA found overlapping windows and the flight was completed.