AirVenture Wrap

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Kelvin Scribner has a neat little parlor trick he was pulling at AirVenture this week. His company, Sagetech, builds a miniature Mode-S transponder and when he hands you one, he points to a little notch cut into one edge. "That's there," he says, "so a full-size image of it will fit on a standard business card." And so it does. The transponder's footprint is the size of a business card and it's a little over a quarter of an inch thick. This product was developed for the UAV industry but as I'll note in a video later in the week, it has implications for general aviation.

Specifically, Sagetech was showing at AirVenture a stunning little module about the size of an inch-thick drink coaster that's a combined ADS-B and ADAHRS, with the output playing on—what else?—an iPad. If Scribner hadn't demonstrated it, I'd have swore the thing was a product of an over-active imagination. But it was real enough and when he showed it to me, the light bulb went off. Increasingly, I'm hearing and reading about the fantasy panel that consists of a couple of thin tablet computers—iPads maybe, but something else would do—driven by small, low cost GPS navigators, ADS-B and ADAHRS. Well, this is it. The bits and pieces are there for at least experimental builders to put together such a panel for $5000 or less, including all the redundancy you could possibly want with dual systems and back-up batteries. All that's missing is a remote comm module driven by the displays and I'm quite certain someone is working on that. Even at that, Trig Avionics already has a miniature navcomm you could find room for in the tiniest of panels with space to spare.

The only reason these remarkable developments won't trickle into the world of certified aircraft is that TSOs and certification hoops will erect barriers for their entry. In the FAA's eyes, safety has to cost a lot of money. But LSAs could certainly benefit and the white-hot pace of research in the drone market will inevitably influence design and cost trends in avionics to some degree. (This has already happened in propeller design.) If you thought the last 10 years was interesting, the next 10 will be more so.

China Rising
Speaking of 10 years, that's how long it will take China to equal or surpass the U.S. as the major manufacturer—and exporter—of GA aircraft. At least that's the opinion of David Chang, who was staffing the China Aviation Industrial Base booth at AirVenture. CAIB is an aviation industrial incubator in China's Xi' An province, southwest of Beijing. I mentioned it in this blog about James Fallows' excellent book, China Airborne. I asked many of the GA execs I encountered at AirVenture if they'd read it. Only a couple had. Guys, you better get busy and get informed.

Back to Chang's claim. Is it realistic? On its face, it's preposterous, but when you push some numbers around, it's a little less outlandish. If we confine the discussion to light aircraft GA, the U.S. manufactured 1861 general aviation airplanes in 2011, in a down year. But the GA economy continues to drift and many companies report flat or declining sales. If that trend continues while China ramps up production—both by buying U.S. companies and establishing its own—you can begin to see how the curves could cross.

Although I'm a skeptic on the real demand for aircraft inside China, I also realize that this market is impossible to predict. The usual metrics simply can't be applied and anybody who says they can is simply misguided, in my view.

Fixing Fatals
I had a long and engaging meeting with John and Martha King on Thursday, discussing a number of topics mostly related to how to reduce the fatal accident rate in GA. It now stands at about 1.2/100,000 hours and has remained unchanged for a decade.

The Kings are exploring the notion of courseware or some kind of program to give pilots a better understanding of flight risk. And I deliberately use the word "understanding" and not "risk management," which I have come to loathe as just another overused industry buzz word. We already have risk management programs and training in place and these don't seem to be having much meaningful effect, although they clearly have in the airline and business flying realm.

I'm not sure that given the relative freedom of the commons that GA represents that we can do much with training or regulation to move the fatal accident needle downward. The great thing about aviation in the U.S. is that you're perfectly unrestrained from taking off in bad weather in an airplane you're barely proficient in to make a pile of shredded metal (or plastic) in the middle of a schoolyard full of the children of plaintiffs' attorneys.

Americans chafe at having safety nannies looking over their shoulders and the pilots most likely to make craters can be just downright rude about having their judgments second guessed. There may be some way to get into the heads of such pilots to give them a gentle dope slap from the only space that matters: between the ears. But I'm not so sure. During my lifetime, I've participated in various high-risk sports and activities and it's my observation that there's a certain percentage of people who are just naturally all thrust and no compass. (On some days, I think I'm one of them.) It could be that some percentage of pilots are simply craters looking for a grid reference and nothing we can do will change that. But I laud the effort to try. It's a worthy one.

The Wrap
Although I can't put my finger on it, I felt a sea change at AirVenture this year. For us here at Avweb, it was more hectic than ever—more things to cover, more people to see and more things left undone. But it was never crowded. I didn't experience any long food lines and the crowds in the exposition hangars were only selectively dense.

This made me realize that I really don't like crowds, so I enjoyed this year's show more than any I can remember since I've been going. EAA has made subtle changes around the grounds that improve things and for the most part, they've got the traffic and parking thing figured out. Not having carts zooming through the main expo area is good as are the lavs they put in the main hangars a few years ago.

We always have minor problems setting up for this show—this year, our trailer didn't have steps for two days, requiring an utterly undignified crawl into the office. (They weren't laughing with us.) A tip of the hat to EAA's Dick Knapinski for helping sort this out and for at least no giggling openly at the specter.

What will next year bring? More international participation I'd guess, especially from China. Three Chinese companies had presence here. I'd expect to see more next year because despite what happens in China, Europe, India and Brazil, AirVenture is still the most important and engaging aviation show on the planet. If you're not here, you risk not being taken seriously. And these days, nobody can afford that.

Comments (39)

I have two off the wall comments about this year's show (which I had to watch from a 2,000 miles away). The issues are ADS-B and airline pilot jobs.

I have been waiting years for a complete ADS-B solution for experimental aircraft and it seems the wait is not yet over. Please tell me I'm wrong. I thought the Garmin portable ADS-B IN device might be great only to learn it won't give you traffic unless you have a separate ADS-B out unit that they don't even offer. Oh well, maybe next year.

I was touched by the junior airline pilot about to lose his job because he doesn't have 1500 hours and can't get them. I wonder if these young commercial pilots can log time piloting UAVs. I just don't know there is a good way for them to get the necessary hours.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | July 29, 2012 6:50 AM    Report this comment

Paul, please report about about the first-time major proxy effort by EAA members to elect someone to the Board that supports homebuilding & chapters & who does not agree lockstep with the current leadership. The annual meeting is normally attended only by board members. This year several hundred unhappy chapter leaders showed up and they had well-prepared and justified grievances. The annual Young Eagle Coordinator meeting included some pointed criticisms from people in the trenches to which the EAA expressed surprise that there exists dissension in the ranks. AVToday of course glossed over this. Please report also on the resurgence of the Sport Aviation Association, led by Ed Fisher of Raceair Design. He and others are re-recreating the EAA most of us knew from the past. Where were Paul and Tom Poberezny all week? Is it true that Tom was escorted off the AirVenture grounds recently, a widely-circulated rumor? Another interesting article would be a list of all the experienced managers who have been 'purged' from the EAA since Hightower's ascendency. Adam Smith, Steve Buss, Charlie Beckett, Randy Larson, & others. The chalets were a slap in the face to the heart and soul of the EAA, homebuilders. The best parts of the airshow were from homebuilders flying in Team RV and the Demoiselle. Otherwise AirVenture 2012 will go down as a ho-hum in my books and one I suspect we will see in the future as a turning point in the decline of our once-great organization.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | July 29, 2012 7:15 AM    Report this comment

Paul - as a full-time safety nanny, I'd like to say thanks for the paragraph that starts out, "Americans chafe..." I actually had an interesting conversation at the show with a GA pilot who didn't think we should get involved in the several hundred fatalities that occur each year in GA. If we had that same toll in airline ops every year, people would be going ballistic. Flying will never be perfectly safe, but there are certainly places to improve, and yes, I agree that it's worth trying.

Posted by: Scott Dunham | July 29, 2012 7:30 AM    Report this comment

The fact that the GA accident rate seems to have settled into an irreducible minimum in spite of various efforts & initiatives probably means there is no magic bullet that will produce significant improvement. Let’s face it, we have “ordinary non-professional folks” engaged in a task that requires a moderately demanding level of attention to detail, skill and judgment. Putting aside the difference in degree, the same sort of challenges also face motorcycle riders. One might wonder how the accident rate per riding hour for motorcyclists compares with GA? Of course, when they come to grief they don’t make quite as big a splash in the news.

Posted by: John Wilson | July 29, 2012 8:46 AM    Report this comment

Give me the choice of government nannies keeping me "safe" and freedom... I'll pick freedom. I'm all for putting warning labels on things though. Packs of cigarette's have them. Why not put warning labels on GA airplanes. Put a warning label in bold font with a skull and cross bones should get the message across. As a pilot, I know the flying is dangerous... but my unsuspecting passengers may not.

Posted by: Andre Abreu | July 29, 2012 9:04 AM    Report this comment

G'day,

A bit off topic but...

I go to AirVenture about every five years. I had a great time but the signage is terrible:

1. Why is the map not printed North up? If printed North up, then I can look at my watch, decide if it is before or after noon and orient the map with the ground that way.

2. Every "street" on the map should be named and every street intersection should have signage. The signs could be temporary but the signage needs to be there.

3. The tram lines are designated as red, blue, etc. Why are the individual trams not designated as red, blue, etc. This could easily be done with simple colored banners, or cardboard signs, on the front and back of the trams.

4. Why are the tram stop signs not color coded to match the tram routes?

5. When you get off the tram, why is there not a map board at each location?

As an example of what is required in a sign board and was not done in a specific location consider the sign board that exists at the tram stop serving the Forums. I got off the tram walked to the sign board to find the building for Forum 6. The building were all shown quite nicely. But, none of the buildings were numbered on the sign board or for that matter on the map. Why not.

These simple omissions caused me a great deal of extra walking and confusion.

Someone needs to really sit down and think about what a newcomer, or an infrequent visitor, needs to navigate the show.

dfr

Posted by: David Rogers | July 29, 2012 11:19 AM    Report this comment

Paul, You guys posted a story on the Super Tucano and AT-6 competition to supply a light attack aircraft to our "friends". Am I correct that this billion dollar contract is to be paid for by American tax money and the aircraft then given to said "friends"?

Posted by: Scott McGowin | July 29, 2012 1:23 PM    Report this comment

Andre, please tell me your post was tongue-in-cheek! We've had a 150 years for the general population to figure out that smoking gives you lung cancer and it doesn't take a brain surgeon to understand that if you fall down from a thousand feet up, you might get hurt. As a famous person once said, "you can't fix stupid". Even with all the labels in the world.

Posted by: Scott McGowin | July 29, 2012 1:31 PM    Report this comment

Interesting the focus on China. What about India? They have their own space program and buying up European manufacturers including aviation orientated companies. Don't hear much about them so maybe in the near future we will all get a major surprise when India comes out of the cold with some new fangled aircraft.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | July 29, 2012 1:55 PM    Report this comment

Really would like to see an analysis of the politica goings-on at EAA. I see a shift away from grassroots aviation to the high-end Flying magazine side of things. WHile I am sympathetic to the need to attract new participants, it sure seems like the backbone members of the last 40 years or so are being put to pasture. I want to know why Tom Poberezney was not there, and Paul was there only a little. Seems shabby to treat past leadership this way. Seems like the association has gone all corporate on us.

Posted by: Bill Mcclure | July 29, 2012 2:14 PM    Report this comment

I concur with Bill. Call any one of the top tier managers that have been shown the door in recent months, for instance Steve Buss, the person most responsible for the success of the Young Eagle program. According to what I am hearing, it's "my way or the highway" these days in Oshkosh. "The EAA is no longer focused on homebuilding," and "We're aligning the EAA with the AOPA" are quotes from the President from people who attending his talks in Sebring and elsewhere this year. Not the EAA I joined.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | July 29, 2012 7:30 PM    Report this comment

Paul, I taught hang gliding for 10 years and realized there are certain people who have no business flying anything. We had this discussion every time a group of instructors got together to talk safety. Certain students would just blow off any advise pertaining to how to safely fly a hang glider and remain in one piece. I am a firm believer that good judgement cannot be taught to certain personality types.

Posted by: Ric Lee | July 29, 2012 10:29 PM    Report this comment

I agree with David. All maps should be oriented with North up. When I opened the map and held it in front of me, it was oriented East up. I am very good at directions and map reading but even with the compass rose showing North to the left facing the map it was disorienting to me. I agree that the streets should be clearly denoted on the map. After a week there, I still got confused on where everything was located. Also, all the buildings and exhibit tents were depicted too small; therefore unreadable in many cases. A bigger map would be better.

Posted by: Sam Parker | July 29, 2012 11:44 PM    Report this comment

Paul, I enjoyed the show very much this year. It is the first time to fly in to Oshkosh for me (although I have attended multiple times). I thought the arrival and departure process was extremely well executed, and that the controllers are superior.

I only have one complaint... The airshow on Friday was very exciting until the P-51's began flying by, and the explosions put an end to the enjoyment. I hope we can get the EAA to stop this nonsense. I don't want to be a party pooper, but it is over the top and really just an excuse to make lots of explosions. I went to order a burger at the end of the display and the people in line were jumping a foot in the air with each blast. It's just silly and unnecessary. Why do we need to Rambo-it up? Aren't 10 P-51's flying by at 300 knots thrilling enough?

Posted by: John Bond | July 30, 2012 5:49 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I find Airventure is a little like a treasure hunt. There are little nuggets scattered in lots of areas. It's great talking to the people who are doing the innovation such as the person who is designing the switchblade roadable airplane and the person who designed and manufactures an electric ultralight motoglider. There were more problems in the camping areas this year then previous years. Seems like there is more focus on drivins than campers. In regards to risk management, one thing I can't find is an engine monitor that can predict an engine failure. The current engine monitors collect a lot of data. I assume most failures preceded by some operational characteristics that show up in the data. Why then, can't an engine monitor tell a pilot that something is about to go wrong without the pilot having to guess at what is causing the display? Another intersesting idea is for engine monitors to share the data with the ipad and the ipad share the data with a social application which could help diagnose a problem.

Posted by: Dana Nickerson | July 30, 2012 7:08 AM    Report this comment

Dana, it seems to me that engine monitors are more in the business of preventing engine failures than predicting them. They give the pilot the ability to set the engine controls for proper engine operating parameters - particularly CHT and EGT. They also might show an engine that is running hotter than it should - something that predicts failure in many different technologies as well as engines. Heat kills.

In my book, when an engine is running hot it is time to reduce the throttle and bring it back to good operating temperature.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | July 30, 2012 7:30 AM    Report this comment

I have attended Airventure for several years and have enjoyed it. I agree with David in that it is difficult to easily navigate the show but I did find the trams much improved this year. My biggest complaint remains the amount of vehicular traffic allowed to travel the show area. It seems that everyone that supports the show has at least one vehicle traveling the streets. This should be greatly reduced with only essential vehicle allowed in the show area.

Posted by: Don Campbell | July 30, 2012 7:43 AM    Report this comment

This was my first time ever to AirVenture, and while I can say it was fully worth it (even though my costs ended up being twice what I originally planned, but most of that was either my fault or circumstances outside anyone's control), there were some complaints I had.

First of all, I can't agree more with Dave and others that it was sometimes very difficult to find what I'm looking for. A few events I had to miss completely because I simply couldn't find the location to save my life. Also, why was there a large version of the map (which didn't show enough detail), but one had to refer to the small version of the map to find the wifi hotspots? The orientation of the map confused me at first too, though I did eventually figure it out.

The trams were confusing in multiple ways. First, the flag indicating which tram it was is on the BACK (i.e. the very last part you see of it) but not also the front. And I ended up on the wrong tram once because I saw the blue on the fringe of the tram cover, thinking it was a blue tram, because I didn't see the red flag at the back of it. Finally, while the seaplane base was a real gem to visit, what's with the FREE RIDE out but PAID RIDE back!? I thought they were joking when they told me that. Good thing I actually still had some cash on me, otherwise I'd have been forced to use the non-network ATM that I'd have to pay a fee to use.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | July 30, 2012 9:24 AM    Report this comment

(cont.)

Oh, and parking. While I have to say I was impressed with the superb traffic management they had set up, $9/day for parking was another unexpected expense I ran in to. I paid $15 to park my plane for the WEEK at Appleton, yet $37 to park my rental car for 4 days (the main lot was full one day, so I ended up having to park in a $10 lot that date). It would have been nice to know this ahead of time, or even to get a week parking pass early (and if there already is, I couldn't find any info on it). I barely carried enough cash to cover my expenses for 4 days of show attendance (I don't like carrying a lot of cash). I may also have been charged twice for my week attendance show pass, but I won't find that out until I go through all my expenses to see how it all adds up.

As much a contrast there is between AirVenture and AOPA Summit, and how AOPA is definitely more corporate than EAA, they do seem to have their show planning down a lot better.

Despite all this, I look forward to going again!

Posted by: Gary Baluha | July 30, 2012 9:29 AM    Report this comment

Having attended Airventure at Oshkosh for 25 years, I have enjoyed most of the steady progress. As others above have mentioned, the home-grown nature of the show does have negative impact on newer visitors. The non-north-up map, and/or inconsistent map data is one. One thing that almost bit me this year is that the seaplane base bus is now loaded up on the main bus corral, and not down by the ultralights as they have been for most years. Unfortunately, one of the big towers along the main flight line still suggests the seaplane base bus loads down by the ultralights.

The new EAA shop and diner and the new shower building on the North 40 are nice additions.

Posted by: John O'Shaughnessy | July 30, 2012 9:52 AM    Report this comment

John O.: Actually, the seaplane bus did still load by the ultralights. But it also loaded by the bus tower. And apparently a tram line also went to the AirVenture museum, even though the map didn't indicate this. Just some more of the confusion of finding one's way around the grounds (especially for a newbie like me).

Posted by: Gary Baluha | July 30, 2012 10:02 AM    Report this comment

It's time for both the FAA and the NTSB to realize that there is a diminishing return on investment trying to reduce the accident/fatailty rates for GA below where they have sat for years. (Maybe they never went to business school or took math?)

Talking with a gent in a food line about something different, he used the term "conspicuous activity" to describe the Feds incessant rant on these subjects, et al. I guess when you have an endless supply of 'shovel ready Obama bucks,' you have to do something to justify your existence.

That said, I attended the Friday (special) Central WIsconsin Flyer's luncheon at nearby Iola, WI (68C)airport where NTSB Chairwoman Debbie Hersman was a special guest of honor and was impressed with her qualifications and common sense plus personable attitude. I guess that doesn't translate into the trenches, however. Too bad.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | July 30, 2012 10:38 AM    Report this comment

Gary B -- thanks for the info. As you said, confusing! We had walked from the North 40 Bus down past show center, when we realized that we needed to head to the main bus corral. We should have continued to Ultralights, because by the time we got back from the Seaplane base (to the corral) and -then- walked to Ultralights, the airshow was in progress so the Ultralights weren't flying. I guess I'll take the blame for 3/4 of that one.

Posted by: John O'Shaughnessy | July 30, 2012 10:48 AM    Report this comment

I noticed the same change this year as Paul, fewer lines everywhere. I camp in Camp Scholler and I noticed that there were fewer campers as well. Usually by the end of the first day there are campers all the way up to the highway 41 fence (row 1). This year that was not the case. There were scattered campers in the last 6 rows but those rows were not filled. Perhaps that's because they opened up a different area, but it was noticable.

As for the overall changes, this was my 31st year and it has changed dramatically since my first visit in 1981. Those changes have been additions, not deletions. The homebuilts and classics are still front and center, separated by the big central area for the big and featured aircraft (formerly Aeroshell square). In fact there is even more space for homebuilts on the west side of the homebuilt mall. I'll bet the total space dedicated to homebuilts has more than doubled since 1981.

The airshow center was moved a hundred yards. Ultralights have been added. LSAs have been added. The warbirds are still down at the north end, though there were many fewer of them this year. The daily airshow is also shorter. It used to be rare to see a woman at Oshkosh. those that were there were over 55 and following their husbands around. In recent years you now see young women and families there. That has to be a good omen for the future!

Posted by: Joel Ludwigson | July 30, 2012 1:56 PM    Report this comment

My good friends who long for the days when it was a small show dedicated solely to homebuilts are wishing for the past. If you look carefully you can still find that show-within-a-show. In camp Scholler. In the forums. In the homebuilt mall. You just have to look harder for it amongst all the additions.

It has grown into the biggest show in the world for GA because they have fostered and nurtured new groups to come in. If we want to maintain, and perhaps have a chance to grow GA, we need to welcome all facets of GA.

Have I liked all the changes over the years? No. But several have grown on me over time. And I don't always agree with my wife either, but I married her anyway (and am glad I did, dear!).

Posted by: Joel Ludwigson | July 30, 2012 1:56 PM    Report this comment

I don't read the posts by some to be pining for the past as much as seeing the organization following the money and influence now at every turn and wondering where it is going. We have other aviation organizations happy to do that. If they want to have the biggest tent in the circus, a name change would be helpful. 'Everything Airborne Association' could get them away from the part trying to define the whole, and that public-frightening concept of 'untried, tentative, flying experiment' coined by the word 'Experimental'. It would envelope every possible group that they have now under their tent and any more to come, while softening the public to a broader introduction to aviation than just one grass-roots department. Have the name truly reflect ALL the groups and drop the word 'experimental' - leave that one for the FAA alone.

Posted by: Dave Miller | July 30, 2012 7:03 PM    Report this comment

Several of you guys nailed it! Yes to politics and No to loyalty. Incredible former employees gone. Yes to a new corporate culture; No to membership and chapter services. Disgraceful treatment of Tom and Paul. Like them or not EAA wouldn't exist in its former form without their efforts . So many loyal volunteers make it work and they aren't appreciated enough by the power structure. Yes get rid of the polluting pyro. We stay home now and not because of the economy.

Posted by: Anna Osborn | July 30, 2012 7:08 PM    Report this comment

Not understanding the big riff about chalets. It's basically box seats, just like they have in other sports. The new AirVenture director used to run the Red Bull Races where they had chalets there as well. Yes, they cater to the big buck donors, but that's what helps pay for the air shows which were fantastic. The flightline is a mile long, the chalets but a few hundred feet. Plenty of front row space to watch the event.

Posted by: Martin Heller | August 1, 2012 7:13 AM    Report this comment

Our point exactly,Martin. AV not for members now. Or normal members anyway just the very rich. EAA isn't Daytona or Red Bull. It is supposed to be a Convention. That implies "members". Participating members not simply ones who "join" so they can isolate themselves from the working members. I will bet Most of the chalet dwellers never attend a chapter meeting,.

Posted by: Anna Osborn | August 1, 2012 11:09 AM    Report this comment

Dave M.: I agree with you on the "experimental" part in EAA, and was having that very same discussion with someone at the show. I've been active in aviation since 2006 and an AOPA member for about just as long, but only an EAA member for the last couple years or so because I always perceived it as being only for those interested in home-building. But it's much more than that, including regular certified-aircraft fliers like me. The interesting part is, since being a member I've become much more interested in the home-building aspect.

I took was a little taken back to see the private chalets set up along the flight line. I fully understand that the big-money sponsors should have their "special" rooms, but why can't it be like all the vendors with their private areas next to their booths? I can almost guarantee the people in the chalets weren't watching the airshow.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | August 1, 2012 11:25 AM    Report this comment

I too am having trouble accepting the new EAA culture. I spoke to a few members about the drift at Airventure and most agreed that the EAA has lost its way again. I stopped by the Membership tent to express my concerns about the organization and tell them I was not planning on renewing my membership. I spoke to one of the Member Services people there and he listened to my concerns and promised to report them to his superiors. He suggested there were changes in the works to emphasize the Amateur-Built component of the organization. My main concern is homebuilding has become a sub-division within the larger GA organization. Homebuilding should be the core of the organization. If certified drivers want to join in the fun; excellent. I encourage certified aircraft owners to come out, we homebuilders are more than happy to share our love of aviation. However, GA needs to remember the E in EAA stands for Experimental and thus Experimental/ Amateur-Built aircraft should be the focus of the organization.

Supposedly the Experimenter newsletter is in the process of being expanded into a full-blown e-magazine focusing on homebuilding. I'm looking forward to seeing what they have to offer.

In the end I renewed my membership. I plan on flying my homebuilt aircraft into Airventure again next year. If the promised changes have not come about by then, maybe next year will be my last trip to Oshkosh.

Posted by: D MacD | August 1, 2012 3:12 PM    Report this comment

Homebuilding should be the core of the organization.>

I'm a homebuilder, too, but I feel that is a bit too narrow of a focus for today's realities. Like so many other things in aviation, homebuilding is a narrow group of very committed builders and that group really doesn't appear to get any larger with time. There are powered parachutes, trikes, balloons, ultralights, classics, restoring, warbirds, new LSA's and $12k ercoupes. We need them all, including the prestige-impressed in their chalets, if we broaden our view a bit and include the changing realities that GA faces into the future.

My other lifelong passion has always been baseball, and I'm a season ticket holder with the Diamondbacks. But though I'm there for each and every pitch, (and I try not to be too intense about it :/ ) but usually manage a smile and am accomodating to those who are not, I realize the team needs the seats filled by every type of fan for a successful and prosperous season to buy better players, etc.

I don't feel homebuilding would be diminished any by responsible management to more inclusion of other forms of aviation.

Posted by: Dave Miller | August 1, 2012 4:55 PM    Report this comment

The diamondbacks are not a membership organization. EAA claims to be. Now if EAA wants to dissolve and start over as a profit making entertainment company they can get some lawyers and have one of their phony votes they can. Then they can do what they please and stop collecting dues. If they want to have members and chapters who participate year round they have to reverse the current trend. There used to be room for all of us. Not just the fat cats in the reserved areas. And please remember the dedicated volunteers who make AirV possible.

Posted by: Anna Osborn | August 1, 2012 5:45 PM    Report this comment

@Scott McGowin yes you are donating $1Billion in planes to the Afghan army. The saddest part is those planes will get destroyed by the Taliban once the US withdraws.

Posted by: phil grainger | August 2, 2012 6:53 AM    Report this comment

"intensely hot weather, storms, and struggles in the overall economy."

Excuse me, Mr. Highhorse, but when did "Oshkosh" NOT have hot weather and/or storms? It amazes me how the brasshats at the EXPENSIVE Aircraft Association continue to use the same lame excuses for the continuing decline in attendance.

This year's AirVenture (Remember back when it was billed as a member's fly-in/convention?) was a joke. The Saturday warbird show was in insult. The worst I've seen in over 20 years. By the way...what happened to all the "aviation" vendors in the fly market? I'm really sick of cheap jewelry, pots & pans, miracle braclets and velvet Elvis paintings.

I recall waking around last year and seeing the mechanical bull out front of the Ford hangar. I mentioned to a buddy that I half expected to find a Ferris Wheel & Tilt-O-Whirl at the '012 show. Well guess what? Apparently you cannot exaggerate the inanity of these folks. I'm a bit worried, wondering what exactly Rod means by "bigger & better" for next year.

One thing is for sure... you'll know the circus has arrived when the elephants march in.

Posted by: Michael Dean | August 2, 2012 7:24 AM    Report this comment

Paul,the U.S. manufactured 1861 general aviation airplanes in 2011. Does this number include cess/china a/c built but not assembled in China? Oshkosh has a lot in common with Nascar. Continue to increase prices on everything until people quit attending. It's still the greatest place on earth for a week!

Posted by: Kevin Hillman | August 2, 2012 3:01 PM    Report this comment

I taught Skydiving for a number of years. Once we had a lady who loved the sport and was super helpful to have around. A joy to have at the drop zone, but she was downright dangerous up there. The hardest thing I ever had to do was to sit down and talk her out of continuing (we wouldn't have let her continue, but you have to let the person understand and make the decision themselves if at all possible).

It was a very hard decision to make, because you cant say if perhaps a person would be able to get over the problem that makes them dangerous, and its quite possib le that in the long line of young people working as CFIs while building hours for an airline career, they might not have the wisdom nor the guts to sit down with a meal ticket, sorry I mean student, and let them know their future doesn't look too good in the field of aviation. I really wonder if all instructors have the nuts to tell a bad student their money is better spent on bowling lessons

Posted by: Bo Lund | August 2, 2012 5:40 PM    Report this comment

I read something about the possible formation of a "Sport Aviation Association" that would build on the original foundation of the EAA. I have dropped EAA for all the reasons listed and am quite interested in more info. on SAA.

Posted by: Louis Sell | August 6, 2012 4:17 PM    Report this comment

The Sport Aviation Association (SAA) was chartered by Paul Poberezney back in the 60's or 70's, as I understand it. It sat dormant for years until the late 90's when, at the urging of a few friends, Paul "resurected" it. I join around 1998 as member #120. I do not know how many members it grew to be, though it was fairly popular.

They were some what active for a few years in the late 90's and early 00's. They held an dinner each year at AirVenture. Under a large tent near the maintainence shops in Camp Scholler. They also published a terrific magazine called 'To Fly'. And Frasca Field, in Champaign IL, hosted an SAA fly-in, in mid June. But in 2005 Paul decided to pull the plug on it. It was just getting to be too much work.

I received a mailing from Ed Fisher, of Raceair Designs (Micro Mong, Flitplane, Skylite), back in May. He says the Paul has turned over the SAA to him. I spoke to Ed at AirVenture this year and he has plans to grow the organization... if there is enough interest. Right now the membership is on a donation basis. Whatever you think is fair. You can findout more by contacting Ed through his web site. http://www.raceairdesigns.com/

Posted by: Michael Dean | August 6, 2012 4:57 PM    Report this comment

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