AirVenture Vendors: 2016 Was A Big Year


Our annual canvass of vendors at AirVenture seems to suggest 2016 has been a bumper year for booth traffic and sales. With only one exception, the vendors we spoke to on Thursday reported the best year they’ve seen in recent memory.

“We’re the distributor for the TBM for the northeast and eastern Canada. Traffic has been exceptionally high and more than just lookers. We have some people seriously interested in the aircraft,” said Ken Dono of Columbia Aircraft Sales, which is based in Connecticut.

Peter Halles of One Aviation reported similar results. “I would say the traffic is better than it has been in years past. The quality of the individuals stopping by the booth has been better. We’ve sold aircraft here at the show, which is not typically something we look for. Generally, we look for new leads and opportunities. We’re getting both,” Halles said.

At Matco Manufacturing, a popular supplier of brake components for the experimental market, George Happ said even with less-than-perfect weather, sales were strong.

“Considering how much rain we had today, it was a pretty steady flow. We brought the right kind of spare parts to sell. Worked out well,” he said. An Aircraft Spruce and Specialty representative said the same. “Tons of traffic. Lots of sales.”

Despite bouts of rain, flight demos have been busy, too. “The response to our new model has been tremendous. We’ve had a lot of action down at the rotorcraft field doing flight demos. So far, we’ve done almost 30 demos in four days,” said Darren Braymiller of Rotorway.

But not everyone was happy. One vendor, Art Imports, which sells mahogany aircraft models, reported slow booth traffic and no sales. But for 2016, that experience seemed to be the exception rather than the rule.