Vendors Report Robust Sales At AirVenture

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Reports are trickling in that visitors to EAA AirVenture last week were in a buying mood. Piper Aircraft spokesman Jackie Carlon told EAA the show was "fantastic." Leads were up 90 percent over the year before, according to Carlon, and the company sold two twin-engine Seminole trainers, two Meridian turboprops, and took two orders for the Altaire jet. FlightDesign took 40 orders for its new four-seat fully certified C4 airplane, which isn't even flying yet. "These orders reported are real product requests with money changing hands," said company spokesman John Gilmore. According to Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturing Association, other LSA manufacturers saw an uptick in sales, with a half dozen companies reporting two to six orders, and Icon taking about 50 deposits on delivery positions for its amphibious LSA.

"This was a vast improvement over 2010," Johnson wrote in his blog. "I had easily 30 conversations [at AirVenture] revealing either outright positive successful results or varyingly robust mood indicators such as, 'Looks like aviation has life in it again.' " In a show wrap-up, EAA President Rod Hightower said attendance for the week was 541,000, an increase of about 1.3 percent over 2010. "Opening day was a tremendously successful day, while Friday was very close to a record and Saturday -- with the superb lineup and night airshow -- was a big draw. Only some rainy weather in the middle of the week prevented the increase from being even greater," Hightower said. Next year's show, the 60th annual fly-in, will feature a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Piper Cub and tributes to the Tuskegee Airmen, Van's Aircraft founder Dick VanGrunsven, and Paul and Audrey Poberezny. Also, Hightower added, EAA will be working to "improve the visitor experience" by offering improved features and attractions, better ways to minimize dust and mud, and new ways to manage traffic for fewer backups.