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Cirrus Vision SF50: The Tiny Personal Jet That Inspired a GTA V Icon
It's hard to remember a time when Grand Theft Auto Online wasn't so overly-saturated with bonkers vehicles of all varieties. This is especially true when it comes to aircraft. They have a replica of the Me-163 rocket fighter from World War II now, for crying out loud.

Cirrus Vision SF50: The Tiny Personal Jet That Inspired a GTA V Icon

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But back in the early days, the Buckingham Vestra twin-engine private jet was nothing short of the most fun plane to fly in GTA V that didn't have missiles, guns, or nuclear-fusion lasers attached to it. But did you know its design originates from a real-life airplane you can actually buy?

First flown in July 2008, just a few months after Grand Theft Auto V's predecessor, Grand Theft Auto IV, had been released, the Cirrus Vision SF50 was a millionaire aviator's dream come true. Not the least because it looked like a little fighter jet with all the fighter bits removed. It was so much more than that, though. 

It was the size of a Cessna, could seat as many as a GMC Yukon Denali, and could cruise at 305 knots (351 mph, 565 km/h) thanks to a single Williams FJ33-5A turbofan engine jetting 1,846 pounds (8.21 kN) of thrust.

That's about the cruising speeds of some very early Second World War fighter planes, color us impressed. And to think they'd let anyone without a military insignia fly it. We can see the Marines seething that it doesn't at least have a radar jamming pod equipped.

Airplanes of the size of the SF50 just so happen to make great light attack jets. Just look at the Embraer Super Tucano if you don't believe us. But not to be with the SF50. It's decked out in high-quality leather upholstery instead.

Fine suede and fluorescent lighting make for a cabin that looks a bit like the aforementioned Yukon Denali, with which this airplane shares a seating capacity. If there was any criticism about the Cirrus SF50, it certainly wasn't because of refinement or curb appeal.

If anything, the only sin the SF50 ever committed was that it just wasn't a large enough improvement over more conventional turboprop private light airplanes from trusted names like the Cessna Caravan to justify it over a more trusted name in private aviation.

Only 245 Cirrus Vision SF50 were delivered since its first production in 2016. Meanwhile, the Cessna Caravan sold over 2,500 airframes in its lifetime. Costing over $2 million brand new didn't help affairs.

But in the Rockstar Entertainment developed juggernaut video game, things couldn't be more the other way around. In Grand Theft Auto V, the equivalent to the SF50, the Vestra, was once the most desirable civilian jet in the entire game. But that was ever such a long time ago, clearly.

Unlike the SF50, the Vestra sports twin high-flow turbofan engines with one arranged on either side of the rear fuselage. The low-mounted cantilever wing and v-tail arrangement are held over from the SF50s design to make for a resemblance that can't be missed.

No fancy LED-backlit screens for gauge clusters in this jet. They're the same model from the Mercerick and Police Maverick helicopters. Essentially a Bell 207 helicopter designed to look just different enough to not receive a cease and desist order from Bell Helicopter. So, it's not as nicely equipped as its real-life counterpart.

But who cares about any of that when you can cruise near the upper limits of what was possible using the in-game physics engine, at least in the single-player mode where online DLC aircraft aren't available.

That said, there are some cosmetic packages exclusively available to GTA Online. All with the ability to choose your own wicked two-tone paint scheme. Pretty cool, if only for a non-military plane.

But between the real-life Cirrus Vision SF50 and the digital Buckingham Vestra, which do you think looks better? Let us know in the comments down below.


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