AirVenture 2021: A Banner Year For Sales


AirVenture 2021 might not have set attendance records—although it was close—but it set sales on fire, according to some companies AVweb canvassed. Traffic through the booths and outdoor venues was, at times, shoulder to shoulder and more of the attendees were pilots and aircraft owners with pent-up dollars in their wallets.

Yakima, Washington-based CubCrafters sold 34 certified airplanes, double the volume of 2019, which was itself a strong show. And that doesn’t include a number of kit sales, according to Chip Allen, who sells the company’s line of airplanes. The orders will keep the factory busy through 2022. Although CubCrafters enjoys the loyalty of repeat buyers, Allen said most if not all of the show sales were customers new to the company.

“Oshkosh was amazing,” said Craig Barnett of Scheme Designers, which specializes in designing paint work for new and used aircraft. “We signed up 50 percent more new clients than our best OSH ever.  We were constantly busy for the first six days, and even managed a few sales on the last couple of days,” he said. While he was concerned about COVID-19, Barnett said, the fact that his staff was masked didn’t put buyers off. (Mask use on the grounds was virtually nil.)

Although pandemic restrictions nixed AirVenture in 2020, aircraft and accessory sales through the year perked right along but vendors weren’t necessarily expecting a big year. “Overall, I think everyone was excited to be there. It felt like a homecoming of sorts. Typically, OSH feels very positive and fun, but this year felt exceptionally so. The level of camaraderie felt elevated,” said Ivy McIver, director of the SR product line for Cirrus.

Other companies reported the attendees were dense with pilots. “My observation was that there were more pilots than ever before, but less non-pilots. Which makes some sense, with many locals deciding to stay out of the COVID fray. That all made it a very good show for us,” said Robert Hamilton of Dynon Avionics, which continues to see strong sales for both its experimental and certified lines of avionics.

“It had been good all spring, but we have seen an acceleration starting seven months ago,” said Matt Ruwe of Bose. “At this point, I’m expecting the trend to continue as airline pilots start to be called back in larger numbers. Our only regret for Oshkosh was probably not bringing enough staff and product,” he added. Bose and headset competitor Lightspeed shared one concern: How to have people try on headsets someone else had just worn. “We had a procedure to wipe them down and people were very patient in waiting for that,” said Teresa De Mers of Lightspeed. She said the show was one of the best ever. “It was very busy at our booth all week. It was customer after customer and that’s the way we like it. Great experience to be back face to face with many of our customers from around the country. We did have bigger sales total this year versus 2019, but we feel it could have been even better without the mid-week weather event which caused many aircraft to leave early,” said Rob Irwin of Aircraft Spruce & Specialty.

As we’ve previously reported, attendance for AirVenture 2021 was about 5 percent lower than 2019, but marked only the third time it has exceeded 600,000 for the week. On Monday, there were more than double the total aircraft on the field compared to 2019.

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  1. A pilot buddy lives just east of the Endeavor bridge initial approach collector point (VPENV) for the inbound conga line. He told me that the number of airplanes droning overhead the prior weekend was unbelievable; supporting the large number of airplanes on the ground at OSH on Monday. Likewise, the number of inbound ADS-B tracks seen over that weekend. At our airport about 25 mi NNE of that point, we saw a marked drop in transient airplanes dropping in for the last easy fuel prior to arrival at OSH; we took on extra fuel in our tanks but didn’t need it. I spent the whole week there and would also agree that there seemed to be fewer ‘civilians’ and more pilots. The storm on Wednesday overnight caused quite a few people to flee such that the weekend seemed more empty than earlier in the week.

    It was great to be ‘back.’

  2. I’m local to Cub Crafters and have visited them. Many if not all of their pilots see me for their medicals.

    Excellent people. Excellent operation.

    I’m glad that a local business is thriving in our anti small-business environment.

    Frankly I amazed that so many very expensive airplanes are flying off the shelves.

    Sorry for the pun 😉

  3. May have been more than double the aircraft on the field on Monday compared to 2019. However,
    “ On Monday, there were more than double the total aircraft on the field compared to 2019.”
    Compared to this year, 2019 had a bad experience with weather on the weekend before Monday. Apples to oranges.
    May have been near record total attendance of over 600,000 but not really. EAA counts each ticket sale as one attendee; so, buy the typical 3 days of tickets and viola, you are now “3” attendees. Actual number of individuals is more like 200,000. Still a good number, but nothing like you are being misled to believe.
    I am amazed that the Pauls, Bertorelli and Berge, aren’t jumping on these bloated claims with their self described cynicism. Could it be they don’t want to jeopardize their Airventure Press Passes or am I just being cynical?

  4. Hmmm… not to be a wet blanket, but could this also have been a mega super spreader event? At my home airport in Washington State in just ONE conversation with two airport denizens I’ve already heard of five (5) persons who flew to KOSH in good health and returned with now confirmed COVID. I wonder how many other cases of the much sought after disease will emanate from AirVenture 2021?

    • Yep, CNN stopped talking about mortality and moved on to infection rates (and now you are too), because one is going up and the other down. They don’t show you death over time because it’s not impressive. Washington’s Statewide average is .1 deaths in a week (see They make it very hard to find – but look at death over time vs infection rate and please let us know if anyone of your buddies dies from it or if you are just spreading around unfounded fear. Don’t teach children to be afraid of the dark, that’s just primitive John. Send your five friends some Kleenex cause odd are they’ll be just fine. Get used to covid because vax or not its never going away. Ever. Odds are you’ll get it. Odds are you’ll live. That should be good news to you but somehow I don’t think its what you wanted to hear.

      • Hey Joe:

        What you might look at is ICU admissions, and the ratio of vaccinated vs non-vax occupying the beds. Vaccinated patients are just 9.1% if COVID related admissions according to the most recent news reports I’ve seen. And YES! I am very happy that the medicos are figuring out how to sustain life through extraordinary means long enough to prevent death for some (but not all) who are admitted to the ICU. That’s a big leap forward, but scarcely something to crow about.

        Yesterday my EAA Sportsman zine arrived in the mail. Great photos! It was obviously a great party! In any other year I would have thought it a great thing for GA. I hope none of the media scoops notice the connection between the Airventure event and localized infection pods created by returned party pilots. Maybe we’ll luck out. It would be great if OshKosh 2021 doesn’t turn out to be “That super spreader event” of 2021.

        Don’t get me wrong. I really LIKE AirVenture. It’s a great party!!! It’s a wonderful showcase for GA! However, was it a good idea to bring a couple hundred thousand pilots and family into a crowded, mask free venue where they will (predictably) become willing vectors for dispersing a serious virus across the US afterwards and many other countries???

  5. “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” Thomas Jefferson.

    COVID Deaths (CDC Interpretive Summary for August 20, 2021)

    The current 7-day moving average of new deaths (641) has increased 10.8% compared with the previous 7-day moving average (578). The current 7-day moving average is 47.1% lower compared to the peak observed on July 30, 2020 (1,211).

    The current 7-day moving average is 82.4% lower than the peak observed on January 13, 2021 (3,644) and is 237.4% higher than the lowest value observed on July 10, 2021 (190).

    As of August 18, a total of 623,244 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the United States.