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Perfect Fit

Cirrus Vision Jet suits doctor's mission, experience

Benny and Lacie were strapped in the third-row seating of the Cirrus Vision Jet, resting comfortably as the single-engine V-tail climbed out of Fairfield County Airport near Columbus, Ohio, on a blue-sky day en route to Grandma’s house for Sunday dinner near Georgetown, Delaware, when the beagles received a special message from air traffic control.
Photography by David Tulis.
Zoomed image
Cirrus SF50 VisionJet owner, CFII, helicopter pilot, FAA Airman Medical Examiner, and dog lover Dr. Bob Masone, with benny, and his wife, Linda, with Lacie, routinely travel between his residence at Lancaster, Ohio, and Georgetown, Delaware, to visit with his mother. Photo by David Tulis.

"Tell Benny and Lacie I said, ‘Hi,’” the Columbus Approach controller told Robert Masone as he handed him off to Indy Center. Masone is well known in the Columbus aviation community—he’s a single- and multiengine aircraft and helicopter CFII and senior aviation medical examiner. Benny, 12, and Lacie, 15, have a following in the community, too. The beagles travel just about everywhere with Masone and his wife, Linda. Masone lists their fur babies in the remarks section of his flight plan so that rescuers would know they are on board in the event of an accident. Since purchasing his Vision Jet in January 2022, the family flies the 356-nautical-mile route between their homes and medical practices in Ohio and Delaware at least monthly, so the controllers regularly see Benny and Lacie’s names.

Sunday dinner has been a decades-long tradition for this tight-knit Italian Catholic family. “My father loved my mother so much, it just overflowed to the whole family,” he said of the ritual that brings Masone, his two brothers, his sister, and each of their families (Benny and Lacie included) together nearly every week. His father died in 1979, but the family tradition continues with his 91-year-old mother, Jean.

Cirrus has delivered more than 500 of the Vision Jets designed to make personal jet travel more comfortable, convenient, and accessible. Half of Cirrus’s Vision Jet customers move up from the piston-engine SR22, and most are not pilots who fly for a living—they are business owners and other professionals who fly themselves. That fits perfectly with Masone’s mission and experience. The Vision Jet allows Masone to prioritize his family time and medical practices by reducing commute time, weather delays, and pilot and passenger fatigue. The flight from Ohio to Delaware is about one hour and 20 minutes, so he and Linda attended Mass Saturday evening and then arrived at the airport around 10 a.m. Sunday to get ready for a leisurely flight to his mom’s. He texts family members from the jet to update his ETA. With each altitude change, Masone notes the difference in wind and whether it will help the family get to dinner on time or make them late.

Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D

The desire to continue being part of the Sunday lunch tradition encouraged Masone to pursue his pilot certificate when he began teaching at the University of Pittsburgh medical school. At the time, his family lived in the Bronx in New York City, and he knew he couldn’t drive home every weekend.

“I was always a little bit afraid of flying,” he recalled of his first flight on a passenger jet at the age of 23. After watching an interview from EAA AirVenture on television about a couple who had retired and purchased a Piper Warrior to travel the country, he thought, “If they can do it, I can do it.” He learned to fly in 1986 and quickly earned his instrument rating.

After moving to Lancaster, Ohio, to work as an anesthesiologist in 1987, Masone earned a multiengine rating in a Beechcraft Duchess. He had been flying back and forth between his family and home at night over mountainous terrain, and the redundancy of two engines appealed to him. “I like to have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D for patient safety,” he said. He purchased a Duchess in 1988 and became an AME in 1989. Masone traveled extensively in twins for nearly three decades, his favorite being a Cessna Turbo 310 with radar and deicing capabilities.

In early 2015, Masone decided to sell his Cessna 310 for fear of the future availability of leaded avgas and the cost to convert both its 285-horsepower Continental TSIO-520 engines for an unknown, unleaded fuel. He also owns a Bell 206 Jet Ranger and a restored 1940 Waco and decided to fly the helicopter between Ohio and Delaware instead. After one trip in the Jet Ranger with Linda and their dogs, Mason decided the helicopter wasn’t the right fit. A friend set him up with a demonstration flight in a Cirrus SR22. He was hooked and flew SR22Ts for six and one-half years until moving up to the jet.

The Vision Jet allows Masone to prioritize his family time and medical practices by reducing commute time, weather delays, and pilot and passenger fatigue. Masone, who is board-certified in anesthesiology, pain management, and addiction medicine, is a Human Intervention Motivation Study AME, and he opened multiple practices in the Columbus area, eventually expanding to Delaware where he has a home at Eagle Crest-Hudson airpark near Georgetown. He sold three of his medical practices in Ohio and one in Delaware, essentially retiring, and started looking at a Vision Jet because of its safety features: Turbine engines are more reliable than piston engines; the jet has a Cirrus Airframe Parachute System in case of an emergency; the aircraft’s systems have multiple redundancies built in; and the jet features Safe Return (Garmin’s Autoland technology), so that if he becomes incapacitated, his wife and passengers can activate the system with a touch of a button and the jet will navigate to and land safely at an airport. Masone is quick to point out that the jet has received two Robert J. Collier Trophies—Cirrus Aircraft for the Vision Jet in 2017 and Garmin Autoland in 2020.

The jet seemed the right route for the anesthesiologist in more ways than one. “There was a saying when I was resident back in the eighties that anesthesiologists are the jet pilots of medicine:…it’s hours of boredom punctuated by minutes of excitement, because when the emergency happens…you have to be ready at all times....It’s kind of the same in an aircraft.”

Robert Masone performs his preflight and reviews departure information on the Vision Jet’s Cirrus Perspective Touch+ by Garmin. Masone is meticulous in his preflight of the Vision Jet, often performing an extremely detailed check the day before his planned departure. A cellphone makes it easier to inspect the
single-engine jet’s turbine blades after landing at Delaware Coastal Airport. A cellphone makes it easier to inspect the
single-engine jet’s turbine blades after landing at Delaware Coastal Airport. Masone rarely misses Sunday dinner with his mom, Jean. Today’s menu: pasta, homemade meatballs, and salad. On any given Sunday, the number of family members around Jean’s table can range from two to 18.

The jet life

New Cirrus Vision Jets have a long wait list (anywhere from one to three years), and used ones aren’t on the market long. But Masone found a broker who said he could find him one in a matter of weeks. He ended up signing a contract for one less than 12 hours after that conversation, although he would have to pay more than he wanted. Buyer’s remorse set in quickly that night, and Masone approached his wife early the next morning about getting out of the purchase contract. Linda simply said, “No.” She had recently stabilized from a four-year bout with multiple life-threatening health conditions, and he had promised her they would travel.

“If I have a weakness, it’s that I don’t want to be away from Linda very long,” he said. “Linda is a great co-pilot.…She’s been flying with me for 20 years, in both helicopters and airplanes. And she’s smart.”

Masone’s Vision Jet is serial number 0329. It’s a G2+ model that features a Williams FJ33-5A engine that can sense hot, high-density-altitude operations and provide up to 20 percent more performance during takeoff. He cruises at Mach 0.53 above most of the weather, typically at Flight Level 300 or 310, the jet’s maximum altitude. The Vision Jet shrinks the country, Masone said, and has made their routine flights shorter and less fatiguing. The jet makes the trip between Ohio and Delaware in about one hour and 20 minutes, whereas the SR22 took two-and-a-half hours. The jet’s pressurization lets him climb above the weather without giving Linda headaches. In the SR22, Masone would often climb to 11,000 feet and Linda would need to wear oxygen to avoid headaches. Now, they can climb to Flight Level 300 and enjoy a cabin pressure of 8,000 feet. “It just changes everything,” he said.

The one drawback about the Vision Jet, Masone said, is its range, a limitation of the jet’s shorter wings so that it can fit in a standard T-hangar. With two people, two dogs, and luggage, plus fuel reserves, Masone said the Vision Jet’s range is about 900 nm at maximum continuous thrust (Mach 0.53). Most of Masone’s trips fall in the 400-nm range.

Masone participates in Cirrus Vision Jet owner training events as well as redoing his type certificate every year and participating in Cirrus’ free instrument proficiency check six months afterward. Even with his experience in multiengine aircraft and instructing in airplanes and helicopters, Masone said the nine-day Cirrus type rating training program is rigorous. He has accumulated more than 180 hours in the jet. The ATP certificate is next on his radar.

Going home

After landing at Delaware Coastal Airport in Georgetown, Masone taxis to his T-hangar where his Tesla has been charging. Benny and Lacie can barely wait for Linda to let them out of the jet to play in the grass, and Masone quickly gets the jet ready to push back into the hangar. “It feels like a millimeter when I’m putting it in,” Masone said of the tight clearance on each wing tip, the tail, and the nose. He bolted the rear chocks for the main wheels into the concrete to prevent him from hitting the tail on the hangar’s back wall.

His Tesla, a dual engine Model S, is already cooled and the dogs are loaded into the car for the final few minutes to Grandma’s house. Masone puts his car on “autopilot” and calls his mom via Bluetooth connection. “Hey, mom, are we late for dinner?’ It’s still on the stove and she’s been timing it for his arrival.

Masone looks through a closed fist to eliminate stray light while he visually inspects the jet engine during preflight. Masone, Linda, and the beagles live at Eagle Crest-Hudson Airport near Georgetown where he keeps his restored 1940 Waco and Jet Ranger. Linda Masone is an active member on every flight, copying frequencies as a backup and helping spot traffic. If Masone misses a handoff or frequency, she chimes in. They make it a game, Linda getting a point each time she catches something Robert missed. Those points add up to a beach trip. Benny and Lacie are strapped in the third-row seating of the Cirrus Vision jet for a short flight to Delaware. Lacie refuses to wear her headset.
Alyssa J. Miller
Alyssa J. Cobb
The former senior director of digital media, Alyssa J. Cobb was on the AOPA staff from 2004 until 2023. She is a flight instructor, and loves flying her Cessna 170B with her husband and two children. Alyssa also hosts the weekly Fly with AOPA show on the AOPA Pilot Video YouTube channel.

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