AirVenture 2023 Wrap-Up


If there was anything in particular that characterized this year’s AirVenture for me it was the emergence of a more positive outlook. Much of last year’s uncertainty about the supply chain and pandemic recovery efforts has faded and people were once again talking enthusiastically about the future of aviation rather than how to salvage what they could. For the first time in a while, there was a lot of excitement about where we as an industry are going.

Along those lines, one of the things that came up quite a bit at the show was the MOSAIC proposal, which would significantly update and expand LSA regulations. Reactions to the proposal were generally positive, with companies interested in the opportunities MOSAIC represents and pilots cautiously optimistic about the outcome. The feeling seemed to be that it has the potential to be a step forward for general aviation.

Walking around AirVenture, I always love overhearing exclamations about how beautiful this plane is or how amazing it is to see it all in person—and this show had a lot of that. That enthusiasm, not to mention the resilience demonstrated by the industry time and time again, is no small part of what makes aviation special.

–Kate O’Connor

From the perch at Aviation Consumer, my focus at the big show is always on the products, and more recently the health of the avionics supply chain—which was on life support at last year’s show. While not entirely out of the woods, vendors I talked with this year had more normal heart rates. For those who played the right cards and didn’t choke along with the supply, it’s back to delivering fresh new products, or at least getting back to building them. Dynon Avionics finally finished its next-gen small-screen D30 EFIS, adding a long-awaited newer backup for the HDX suite. 

Garmin’s Jim Alpiser told me the company’s most wanted gear is flowing to the dealer network. It even had a new product—the GHA 15—proving that radar altimeters haven’t died forever. But the flagship announcement was the first retrofit Autoland and Autothrottle system. These days I’m too jaded to be awed by avionics. But flying shotgun with Garmin’s Jessica Koss in the company’s B200 King Air—the first Autoland interface in a twin and on the G1000 NXi—my eyes were even wider than they were when flying behind a pre-certification Autoland in a Piper turboprop back in 2019. Smooth, precise and one heck of an engineering feat when you consider the deep interface between the engines, avionics and airframe. Yeah, I’d say Garmin’s holding down that prestigious Collier Trophy.

For something that’s a lot simpler to pull off, a big surprise came from the Honeywell exhibit with a $5200 drop-in replacement for the venerable KX155/165 VHF radio. Yes, the KX200 is many years late to the party, but perhaps not too late for owners struggling to keep their failing KX155s working without wanting to spend thousands to repair a 1990s-vintage rig. There are a lot of KX155s and if the wiring is good, I think for some a KX200 replacement could make sense—perhaps more so for lower budgets that can’t handle a teardown installation. Going bigger, Honeywell has been racking up over 120 flight test hours with its Anthem integrated and scalable avionics suite intended for a broad market segment. It flew its Pilatus test bed into the show with a functional—although very preproduction—Anthem as proof.

Speaking of work, Cirrus announced that it built a private pilot training course to bring new pilots into the Cirrus life. Cirrus’s Matt Bergwall told me plenty of new Cirrus owners start from scratch in an SR piston and the lucky and skilled ones eventually move into the Vision Jet, so it developed a course for its worldwide field training network to get the qualified buyers started. It ought to reassure insurers who might otherwise raise an eyebrow at a student in a new SR22. A big focus and challenge for students, I think, will be not only learning how to fly the plane the Cirrus way, but also learning how to work the embedded Perspective avionics. That’ll be a lot to absorb for many zero-time buyers. Still, I think Cirrus has a good concept here—and another clever marketing tool to sell new planes.

If AirVenture 2023 is any gauge, I flew far away from that hot and crowded show cautiously optimistic that the market is nursing itself back into decent shape. 

–Larry Anglisano      

I spent a lot of time at AirVenture chasing social media reports that chaos had descended on aircraft arrivals at Oshkosh and that the coveted bucket list system of wing wags and colored dots had been irrevocably stained (along with dozens of pairs of underwear). In truth, however, everyone I talked to had heard the stories but either hadn’t experienced them or wrote them off to the normal consequence of packing 10,000 aircraft into a single airport for a week. 

Certainly there were some pucker-worthy moments, but they were attributed to the kind of minor mishaps that are thankfully uncommon at AirVenture. One aircraft had a flat tire, another landed with the gear partially retracted in its amphibious floats. One guy will go down in history as the first anyone has heard of to land against the traffic on Oshkosh’s busiest runway. Even EAA’s own Ford Trimotor wasn’t immune. It got stuck in the infield briefly while taxiing on the grass. All of these were enough for controllers to scatter the traffic and cause some inconvenience but none were life-threatening. So, as I prepared to write this on Saturday, I was ready to exult at the lack of fatalities and ask our dear readers for a little perspective on what they might have experienced coming in. 

And, just like that, the perspective changed. It will be a while before we know exactly how four people died in two accidents within hours of each other, but if you’re sitting comfortably at home with an extra hour in your logbook because of a diversion or hold while coming in to AirVenture, it’s worth thinking about how much worse it could have been.

On behalf of everyone at the Flying Media Group, our condolences to the loved ones of the victims and heartfelt appreciation to those who jumped in to help under some dangerous circumstances.

–Russ Niles

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  1. Nothing in GA is getting cheaper or easier, we are losing airports every week to developers, and ADS-B out means that our movements are watched by government AND civil population as well. Why go through all the hoops and costs and inspections and currency and training and medicals and and surveillance and risk of fines? Grab a boat or a motorcycle and just have fun with your life.

      • Point is that “the rest of us” no longer means the rest of us. The general population is no longer welcome at airports (fences, security, guards). There is now only a small fraction of the population who even can pull off being a pilot/owner. I’m in that 0.03% who are pilot/owners but I don’t see the Fed bending over backwards to promote more GA flying; I see the reverse.

        • I don’t necessarily disagree. Nevertheless the US remains the best environment by far for anyone who wants to indulge in this activity. Where I live, it’s possible to fly over thousands of square miles to hundreds of airports without ever talking to ATC or filing a flight plan. At the same time you can fly a plane you built in your garage and maintain yourself into small through major airliner airports, VFR or IFR. My home airport is tiny and would have been a strip mall long ago but for federal and state grant programs that pay for the infrastructure and require it to stay open as an airport. Just saying, we complain a lot but honestly it’s still a pretty good thing we have here in this country.

          • Over the last 50 years, we’ve lost so much. Going from outstanding in the USA to “not as crappy as everyone else” is hardly something to be happy about. If you did not learn to fly in the 60’s/70’s then you have no personal knowledge of what we’ve lost.

  2. This was my 48th Oshkosh Air Show. Another great year, numbers are not out yet but it was definitely bigger than last year. I don’t like to complain but the team running the air shows this year was not very efficient- there were massive delays between performers and the shows dragged on, they started earlier than in the past and finished later and the spectators lost interest. Obvious to everyone here the Saturday night fireworks were very poorly performed, I saw hundreds (probably more, I just couldn’t see them) of spectators give up and leave before they completed them. I hope they take a close look at this and streamline them in the future- dan

    • This was my 41st Airventure since ’77; I’ll second Daniel’s comments. Overall, the show was my usual annual reaffirmation that all of humanity hasn’t lost its collective mind and a subset of same can focus on a very, very special event with EAA pulling it off with its usual aplomb. The few shortcomings didn’t detract from the overall A+ that I’d give the event but … there were a few. I, too, look forward to EAA’s analysis of the numbers.

      Given that heat and weather were factors and two sad deadly accidents marred the event, I’d be hard pressed to moan too loudly about the less than spectacular Saturday night fireworks or airshow. When people ask ME what I like best, my stock answer is that it’s “the people.” EAA Staff, thousands of volunteers, attendees, vendors, logistical support, hordes of pilots and performers and last, but not least, the people of Oshkosh who put up with these hundreds of thousands of aviation obsessed people show me that WE can do it when we have a common bond and try hard. I take close notice of how each come up with some sort of accommodation for just shy of 2% of their year … and look forward to doing it again NEXT year. E.G., I live in a nice cargo trailer I’ve modified just for the event. Sounds bad … isn’t. 🙂

      I have power available to me so I have an aviation radio running when I’m ‘home.’ I’d like to give a special shout out to the controllers who handle the show. I never once heard them yell at anyone who wasn’t quite doing it right. On multiple occasions, I heard them going out of their way to be cordial and calming to the inbound or outbound aviators. Good job, boys! There were inbound issues on the beginning weekend but it wasn’t because the ATC types weren’t trying hard to bring in 10% of the flyable US fleet of airplanes safely and promptly.

      So NOW — sadly — Airventure 2023 is a memory. All over the Country and — indeed — the world, aviators are all plotting and preparing for Airventure 2024. I’m among ’em. In the future, I hope to be able to say that I’ve attended 50 Airventures … who knows?