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AirVenture: The Day After

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At AirVenture, I am routinely asked this question: "Well, so what have you seen that's interesting?" I'm tempted to reply: a 15-inch computer screen. Although the rest of the AVweb staff spent much of its time walking the show and kicking over stones, I found myself chained to the desk in our press trailer this year to a greater degree than normal. (Whatever normal is.)

This year represents my 21st or 22nd yearly trek to Oshkosh—I've lost count. But my impression of the show is that it was, in some way, harder-edged. The AeroShell Square display was spectacular this year, with the A380, Burt Rutan's Mothership Eve, the Lindbergh Trimotor and a handful of other airplanes most of us had never seen up close, if at all. Kudos to Airbus for stuffing the A380 into Wittman, even if the arrival wasn't the most graceful. It proved to be an exceptional attraction.

Going into a show, we never know what to expect with regard to product introductions. During the 1990s, I remember a number of shows in which there was essentially nothing new. Yet in the midst of the Great Recession, the show had plenty of new things to gawk at. Garmin had a full slate of announcements, Bendix/King rolled out a follow-on to the AV8OR portable, Continental showed us its new turbocharged TSIO-550 about which I'll have more to say later this week. Electric airplanes made sparks this year and this market segment may yet find some traction. I'd expect to see more of these next year.

If I was expecting a subdued mood, I didn't sense that. I think companies are doing the only thing they know how to do, which is move forward with new products and innovative ways to sell what they already have. Regardless of economic conditions, there's no point in simply wringing your hands about that which you cannot change. It makes more sense to keep plugging away until things improve.

A word about EAA's structural renovations at the show. When I heard about these, I thought it was a great idea until I learned that vehicles—including the golf cart we rely on to haul around staffers and camera gear—were banned from the center part of the exhibit area. I thought that this would be a giant pain for us, but it turned out not to be. In fact, it was hardly noticeable. What was noticeable was the reduced likelihood of being run down by a golf cart anywhere on the grounds and I'd call that a net positive against the slight inconvenience of having to walk a little more.

For those of us who attend or cover these shows routinely, the fact that everything is in the same place year after year induces a certain staleness. EAA's overhaul of the grounds and exhibition area addressed that and gave the place a fresh feel. My only regret is not having more time to spend in the exhibition hangars.

A word about one of our sponsors, Bose. The company loaned us one of those Quiet Comfort noise-cancelling headsets you see advertised on cable all the time. Having used the Headset X, I figured the Quiet Comfort would be a dumbed down version of the X. Wrong. I don't know how Bose does it without a circumaural design, but the noise cancelling on this device is astonishing. I used it to edit audio and video during the loudest part of airshow and I was barely aware of any ambient noise, including something that went by in full burner at 500 feet. I wish Bose the best of luck prying this thing away from me.

Comments (7)

Because of all the exciting things going on, one thing that got rather overlooked was the arrival of Mike Blyth and James Pitman on Monday evening. They were flying the prototype LSA they designed, built, and intend to sell. The impressive part is that they flew it to Oshkosh from South Africa, crossing the Atlantic from Guinea to Brazil. Now they're in Los Angeles before heading to Hawaii. I don't know about you, but that's way more water than I'd be comfortably crossing in an LSA, so my hat's off to them.

Posted by: RICHARD BEEBE | August 5, 2009 2:03 PM    Report this comment

From my perspective, the best part of Airventure is that it is incredibly relaxing. Flying in, after doing it more than once, is easy. Not keeping any real schedule is great! The only downside is that every year, I don't see everything that I would like to see, and I doubt that I could even if it were 2 weeks long. I'm very thankful for the hard work of the EAA staff and volunteers--they truly do a magnificent job.

Posted by: Cary Alburn | August 5, 2009 3:41 PM    Report this comment

Thanks so much for the great reporting. Sure helped this farmer enjoy the big show from the computer seat while trying to bale hay between rain showers! Someday I'll be able to attend in person.

Posted by: Greg Endersbe | August 6, 2009 8:20 AM    Report this comment

Greg--truly it is better in person, no matter how great Paul's reports may be. Hope you can make it someday!

Posted by: Cary Alburn | August 6, 2009 12:59 PM    Report this comment

Anybody know where Epic Aircraft was during EAA. Today I hear the owner has disappeared and locked the factory doors. What a tragic event for a lot of employees and some great design aircraft. Somehow we have to get this company back up and running.

Posted by: MIKE SWANSON | August 6, 2009 7:13 PM    Report this comment

thanks Paul and the Avweb staff for giving me a picture of what i am missing. I am going next year come Hell or high water, haha!

Posted by: MICHAEL SULLIVAN | August 7, 2009 1:27 PM    Report this comment

The site improvements were great! My wife especially appreciated the flush toilets, and I did appreciate not being run down by the golf carts (and I'm sure Paul appreciated the extra exercise!) I'd have to say that White Knight II was the highlight of my visit - where else can you see the birth of commercial spaceflight fly right before your very eyes! The Airbus demonstration was also extremely impressive - I am revising my opinion of the 'buses.

Posted by: Josh Johnson | August 9, 2009 6:01 PM    Report this comment

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