EAA's AirVenture is applicable to far more than aviation enthusiasts and hobbyists. Dave Higdon observes that while many move into Business Aviation, Airlines and even space travel, Oshkosh unites the many sectors of aviation...
Several years ago, a newspaper editor listened to the publication’s executive who suggested not bothering to send their aviation reporter to the annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. “There's no real aviation there,” the executive reasoned. “There are only old guys who tinker with building airplanes in their garage. No factory airplanes, no Business Aviation, just tinkerers.”
That year more than 40 aviation OEMs - several from that newspaper's home state - participated in Oshkosh, including airframe OEMs, powerplant and avionics OEMs. Among them were Beech Aircraft, Cessna Aircraft, Learjet, BendixKing and many component suppliers.
Virtually every segment of aviation exhibited at Oshkosh that year. Fastforward a couple of decades and they were back again this year...
What a Difference the Years Make
EAA and its conventions provide a venue to share tips, designs and revel in the camaraderie of the aviation community. And so it was last week at AirVenture Oshkosh 2018.
Among the exhibitors were Cessna and Beech (both part of Textron); Piper and Pilatus; One Aviation; Epic Aircraft (with its new single-engine turboprop); Embraer; and both Airbus and Boeing. New-entrant Stratus displayed the prototype of its 716 jet, an enlarged version of the original 714.
Cirrus Aircraft returned with it' strong-selling Vision, the world's first certificated single-engine business jet, along with its newest SR-series piston singles. And Daher displayed its two powerful turboprop singles, the TBM910 and 930.
Near the flight line stood the two adjoining booth spaces staffed by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). President and CEO Ed Bolen has long viewed AirVenture as an important venue because of the large number of his operating and associate members who attend. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) also attended, as usual, because its leader Pete Bunce shares Bolen’s view.
Ultimately, all of aviation is interrelated, linked by their activity and the government agency overseeing them all, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
And as happens at other smaller events, FAA staff attend to capitalize on the presence of the aviation executives who attend; to meet with various levels of the agency; and accomplish in person what may be more difficult to achieve in the Washington, D.C. environment.
Many top executives, designers and pilots start their flying in small aircraft and though their branches may spread into jets and airliners – even space travel – their roots are planted in General Aviation.
After all, aviation is aviation is aviation.