Hours before he was due to give a flight training session, Dimitri Partafyllas took off from Greenville Downtown Airport on what he calls “a mission”.
“We had a meeting at 12:15 p.m. where all the guests were outside, and they didn’t know if it was going to be a girl or a boy,” he says as he settles into the cockpit of a Cirrus SR22 super sophisticated and downward. a comprehensive pre-flight checklist.
Hmm. What kind of “mission” was that exactly? It seems a family hired Partafyllas to fly over a Parisian mountain house, where he would spray a blue cloud or leave a pink trail for a gender reveal party. The answer soon erupted from the spinning plane…it’s a boy!
Today, Partafyllas is the proud father of a company that has earned a singular distinction among the seven flight schools at the downtown airport: Stratos Aviation is a Cirrus certified training center.
Cirrus: Not your average propeller plane
It’s a big problem. Why? Because the Cirrus is no ordinary propeller-piston aircraft.
You see, the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System includes a drop in the fuselage, between the cockpit and the tail. The Duluth, Minnesota-based manufacturer claims CAPS has saved more than 220 lives. Simply pull the top handle, the parachute deploys, the plane floats to a soft landing.
And because one of the nation’s best-selling piston planes includes a full suite of other high-tech features, Cirrus training is serious.
Take it from Dr. John Evans. As the Greenville orthopedic surgeon pulls his 2018 model out of a hangar adjacent to Stratos, he salutes Partafyllas, which offers regular proficiency flights, recommended every 90 days.
“These guys are great,” he says, referring to Stratos, before flying to Union, South Carolina, in search of cheaper “avgas” (aviation fuel). Then, with an easy chuckle, he says of training and flying, “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.
Evans bought his first Cirrus in 1999 – the year after CAPS was introduced – because of “the way the aircraft was built around safety”.
Cirrus Aircraft only certifies flight schools that provide training to factory specifications on how pilots should operate the aircraft.
“You make sure you fly the plane within the recommended safety envelope,” says Partafyllas, who has clocked up some 9,000 hours since learning to fly in Germany in 1995 before moving to Greenville to work for BMW. .
He opened Stratos in 2013, and the Cirrus designation adds even more wind under his company’s wings.
“Something like that is an honor, it’s a very difficult thing to get — everyone would like to be factory certified,” he says.
Not all flight schools are.
Robert Haig, executive director of Cirrus Aircraft’s Flight Training & Operations, said Stratos is one of only two such delegates in South Carolina, among 93 across the United States.
Of Stratos, Haig says, “They have demonstrated their commitment to excellence in flight training. The instructor qualification course is rigorous and candidates are held to very high standards.
For Greenville’s downtown airport, Cirrus recognition provides peripheral bonuses to the busiest private aviation runway in the state and the city.
“Anytime you provide services that the aviation public sorely needs, it will bring people to this airport and to Greenville, and that, of course, will bring in money,” says Joe Frasher, executive director of the airfield.
Still, Frasher says he’s seen a significant growth in the local population of Cirrus, as well as a training boom: “Maybe people always wanted to fly and during the pandemic they had a lot of time for introspection, and they said, ‘I’m going to do it.'”
He also notes that the number of aircraft based at an airfield helps determine eligibility for federal funds, he says. Then, after listing more than ten services offered by the airport, he comments on what Cirrus recognition is, he adds:
“It makes it more of a one-stop destination for everything.”
learn to fly
Here are the flight schools at Greenville Downtown Airport:
- Stratos Aviation
- Greenville Aviation
- United StatesAeroFlight
- Greenville FLIGHT SCHOOL
- ATP flight school
- DoubleDay Aviation
- CAVU Flight Academy
Source: Greenville Downtown Airport
- Basic Pilots License: $10,000
- SR22G1 (new): $779,000
- SR22 G1 (used): from $180,000
- Filling an SR22 G1 tank with gasoline before (fuel): $400 ($5/gal X 80 gallons)