Mark Humphreys' Cirrus Turboprop jet is fast and fuel-efficient.
Humphreys & Partners Architects Mark Humphreys' Cirrus Turboprop jet is fast and fuel-efficient.

Humphreys & Partners Architects CEO Mark Humphreys doesn't have anything against Leer jets. His father was a Leer general manager back in the '60s, and Humphreys even saw the first Leer take to the skies in 1965. As corporate fliers go, the Leer is extremely fast and still sports virtually the same time-tested, classic design since that first jet.

There's only one problem: "The Leer jet uses 250 gallons of fuel per hour," says the Dallas-based architect who realized a life-long goal of getting his pilot's license at age 51. "You are literally throwing fuel out the window."

By contrast, Humphreys' Cirrus SR-22 turboprop uses 18 gallons of fuel per hour, and at a cruising speed of 235 mph, that gets him and three others from Dallas to Atlanta in just over 3 hours.

"Part of our corporate philosophy is not to get left behind, to be innovators," Humphreys says. "What is more innovative than when an apartment developer in Atlanta calls asking for a 2 p.m. meeting the next day and our response is sure, no problem? We get in my plane, land in Peachtree, a car meets us on the tarmac, we put our luggage in the trunk, and we are there."

Multifamily execs don't have to pony up $30 million for a Gulfstream when today's smaller, high-performance private planes get the job done at a fraction of the price, Humphreys says. For example, an entry-level Cirrus that seats four and is set up with XM radio will set you back about $200,000, and pilots are readily available and affordable if you don't already have your own license. If you still have the need for speed, consider the Cirrus Vision SJ50, the company's first VLJ (very light jet) that is completing test flights now for 2009 deliveries.

You can bet Humphreys already has a Vision on order. "It still only uses 50 gallons of fuel per hour, but it goes about 410 mph," he says. "So that trip to Atlanta will now only be an hour-and-a-half. Most of my cohorts will be sitting on the ground in Dallas/ Ft. Worth waiting for their flight, and we'll already be in the meeting."