Seth Riklin has been a Cirrus Aircraft owner for nearly three years, but his passion for personal jets and aviation dates back longer. A third-grade career day and a conversation with his father’s friend, a pilot for Eastern Airlines, inspired him to take to the skies.
Riklin first sampled personal aviation while still in his teens. While studying business at the University of Texas, he was required to take an elective outside of his major’s concentration.
“A friend of mine told me about a ground course I could take,” he recounts. “It was something I was interested in – and my father was paying – so I thought, yeah, count me in.”
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While completing the course, Riklin also joined the university flying club. “They had really nice aircraft at ridiculously low rental rates,” he enthuses. “I learned to fly in a 152 Aerobat – only $14 an hour to rent. It was a great time to learn to fly.”
Today, Riklin now holds over two decades of flying experience and is the proud owner of a Cirrus G2 Vision Jet, the world’s first single-engine personal jet. A max range of 1,275 nm and cruise speed of 350 mph certainly contribute to the Vision Jet’s appeal. As an experienced pilot and CEO of a renewable energy company, Riklin values the jet’s fuel efficiency the most. “It’s incredibly fuel-efficient,” Riklin explains. “For someone who’s into renewables, it’s ideal that it has a low carbon footprint.”
The Business Advantage of Owning a Vision Jet
After completing law school in Houston, Riklin practiced as a lawyer for many years, regularly flying as a hobby.
In 2009, his aviation hobby transformed into a necessary means of transportation to conduct business when he launched a renewable energy company. Riklin regularly traveled from Houston to North and West Texas, visiting wind farm projects far from major airports. The Vision Jet’s speed and mobility were invaluable as the renewable energy industry became an increasingly competitive market.
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“It was like the Wild West out there; people were trying to get into wind development as fast as possible,” he recalls. “Eventually, our hard work and patience paid off, and we were able to sell a big wind project, one of the biggest in North America at the time.”
Cirrus Aircraft’s primary customer is the business owner seeking a means of streamlined, efficient travel to grow business. Riklin is one of several customers who have expanded business successfully and saved time traveling with a Cirrus aircraft.
“Over the last few years, we have seen strong growth within our business customer segment, and in 2021 we delivered 86 Vision Jets facilitating faster and more efficient travel for our aircraft owners,” says Zean Nielsen, chief executive officer of Cirrus Aircraft. “Business owners, in particular, require a reliable, advanced aircraft that takes them quickly from point A to B, ultimately optimizing their time.”
Cirrus Aircraft’s Safety Features Rise Above the Rest
Cirrus Aircraft has advanced year after year within the personal aviation industry. So has Nielsen’s passion for innovating technologically advanced aircraft and an entire branded ecosystem to make aircraft ownership more like car ownership. The company had just announced the second generation of the SF50 Vision Jet – G2 Vision Jet – when Riklin searched for a new aircraft to solve his business needs.
“I do a lot of flying on my own, but I have responsibility for my family, employees, and their families, so safety was my number one concern,” Riklin says. “Once I realized the full capability of the G2 Vision Jet, combined with the fact it had a full aircraft parachute, it was a no-brainer decision.”
Cirrus Aircraft is the only company to include a whole airframe parachute called Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), as standard equipment on all certified aircraft models.
In addition to CAPS, the aircraft airframe, seats and landing gear are designed to absorb the impact energy in a forced landing. Cirrus aircraft offers unmatched safety features to protect the pilot and passengers with advanced touchscreen avionics, electronic stability protection (ESP), digital weather information, FIKI anti-ice system and more.
After reading about the incredible safety features in the Vision Jet, Riklin felt confident that he had found the aircraft to support his mission. “I immediately began to pursue purchasing the jet before the end of the tax year and was fortunate enough to take delivery on an aircraft that someone had canceled,” he explains. “I had purchased the plane without ever having seen, sat in or flown it; I had only read about it.”
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While Riklin was training for his Vision Jet type rating, Cirrus Aircraft made history by becoming the first general aviation company to announce integrating Garmin’s Safe Return Emergency Autoland.
Cirrus Aircraft introduced Safe Return in the Vision Jet which can safely and autonomously land the aircraft if the pilot becomes incapacitated. The Safe Return button is red and sits on the cockpit headliner, accessible to pilots and passengers in an emergency. Safe Return gains control of the aircraft and transforms the Vision Jet into an autonomous vehicle at the touch of a button. With Safe Return engaged, the Vision Jet communicates with air traffic control, navigates terrain and weather, and pinpoints the nearest suitable airport for landing to bring the aircraft safely to a complete stop.
“During my training for the Vision Jet, Cirrus Aircraft announced Safe Return – I had no clue that was even technically possible,” says Riklin. “It was like something out of Buck Rogers; I immediately got on the phone and tried to find out if my aircraft would include it.”
Riklin reached out to his dedicated Cirrus Aircraft contact and determined that the company would add Safe Return to Vision Jets, starting with serial number 160. “Yours is 163,’” he recalls receiving the news. “I was doing backflips down the corridor of the Knoxville training center. I can confidently say my aircraft, the G2 Vision Jet is the safest jet there is.”
Unmatched Ecosystem and Level of Support
Cirrus prides itself on the quality of its customer service, and the relationship does not stop after you sign for your purchase. The company has developed unmatched services and has built a community to create an effortless aircraft ownership experience and lasting lifetime memories with the people you meet and the adventures you embark on with your Vision Jet.
Vision Jet owners automatically receive access to the Vision Pilots and Owners (VPO) community, an exclusive program designed to ease the transition into jet ownership and offer ongoing support. The VPO community provides a forum for discussion and fly-in events throughout the year.
With JetStream, Vision Jet owners receive a maintenance package that includes regular wear replacement, recurrent training and the concierge level of support that Cirrus Aircraft owners expect.
When looking to customize his Vision Jet to make it his own, Riklin worked with the Cirrus Aircraft Xi Design team. “The Xi team were just incredible,” he says. “I gave them the goal of making it look even faster than it is — they succeeded.”
The proud owner is not alone in enjoying his Vision Jet design.
“The greatest day of flying I ever had was during my training in my new Vision Jet,” he recounts. “We were getting ready to taxi, and three F-16s landed right in front of us. One of them taxied right by us, stopped, got his phone out and started snapping pictures of my plane. That’s when I knew we had the design right.”
Moments such as this seem like the culmination of a lifetime’s passion for taking to the skies. Despite his extensive experience in private aviation, Riklin is still visibly enthused by how the Vision Jet has been able to build upon that joy. Put him in front of a classroom full of third-graders, and there’s little doubt he’d quickly create a room full of future pilots.
To learn more about joining the Cirrus Aircraft community, visit cirrusaircraft.com/ownership