“Something for everyone” from Oshkosh

An estimated 700,000 people attended this year’s AirVenture in Oshkosh.

While the highlight of the week was the arrival on opening day of White Knight and SpaceShipOne, this year’s big show was non-stop, with the Global Flyer making an appearance, as well as the debut of the new HondaJet and the unveiling of many new products and aircraft.

More than than 10,000 aircraft arrived at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, as well as other airports in the Oshkosh area. Of those, 2,927 were show planes, including a record 1,267 homebuilts, 924 vintage airplanes, 386 warbirds, 196 ultralights, 130 seaplanes and 24 rotorcraft.

“There’s something at Oshkosh for everyone in aviation,” said EAA President Tom Poberezny. “Every day there was something new — a new announcement, an unveiling — and it makes me proud to know that the industry looks upon Oshkosh as the place to be to make their announcements, to unveil their innovations.”

Among those making announcements or unveiling products during the week-long show were:

Cessna, which flew in the Mustang, its newest jet. First announced at AirVenture 2002, the jet is “on schedule and on performance,” said Jack Pelton, president. First flight was April 23, ahead of schedule, and the prototype has since had 90 flights, totaling 167 hours. Certification flights are expected to begin later this year, with FAA certification slated for the fourth quarter of 2006. The jet is powered by the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F engine, which is expected to gain FAA certification this December.


OurPlane, a fractional company for GA pilots, ordered 12 new Cirrus SR22 aircraft for its fleet. They will join the 10 SR22s ordered in March 2004. Based in London, Ontario, OurPlane also placed an order for 20 Eclipse 500 jets. The company’s fleet now includes 22 Cessna and Cirrus aircraft.


Diamond Aircraft’s new twin, the DA42-TDI Twin Star, received FAA certification during Oshkosh. The jet, powered by twin TAE Centurion 1.7 turbo-diesel engines, sports the Garmin G1000 glass flight deck.

The company, which has already delivered 35 Twin Stars in Europe, anticipates U.S. deliveries will begin by the end of this year.


NASA is teaming with the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation to present the Centennial Challenges program. The challenge awards one of five purses totaling $250,000 to teams that can best modify or improve their GA aircraft according to the contest’s rules.

One of the challenges is to minimize the amount of noise both inside and outside the cabin, while another prize will be awarded to teams whose aircraft demonstrates the best handling qualities.

The biggest prize, $150,000, will go to the team whose aircraft demonstrates the best overall flight performance taking into account door-to-door trip velocity, energy consumption and passenger carrying capability.

CentennialChallenges.NASA.gov, CafeFoundation.org.

The Be A Pilot program, the industry’s cooperative program to bring more people into aviation, registered its 250,000th prospect since its inception in 1997. Richard Roberson, 50, a dairy farmer from Locke, N.Y., won a free trip to Oshkosh courtesy of Be A Pilot. When Drew Steketee, Be A Pilot’s president, phoned to let him know he had been selected to go to Oshkosh, Roberson’s first question was “What’s Oshkosh?” The student pilot, who had three lessons under his belt when he visited the big show, hopes to have his private pilot ticket in about six months.

Another private pilot, Greg Sutliff of Harrisburg, Pa., became the first individual major sponsor of Be A Pilot, donating $50,000 to the organization.

“I wanted to pay something back for what flying has meant in my life,” said Sutliffe, owner of the Sutliffe Auto Group, and 4,300-hour instrument-rated pilot who flies a TBM-700 turboprop.


New Piper Aircraft Co. is adding the CMax Electronic Chart display and Avidyne’s integrated MultiLink services, featuring XM WX Satellite weather, text messaging and flight tracking, as optional equipment on all its entry level and mid-range aircraft. First deliveries of aircraft with these products will begin in October, while plans for aftermarket installation are under way and expected to be available by year’s end.


The festivities at EAA AirVenture were marred by two fatal crashes. Dick James, 67, of Fennimore, Wis., died July 26 when the P-51 Mustang he was flying crashed while staging for the air show. The accident occurred off site. Michael J. Crowell, 48, of Arlington, Wash., was killed July 27 when the Glasair Sportsman 2+2 he was flying crashed at the Wautoma Municipal Airport some 40 miles west of Oshkosh. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating both accidents.


Look for even more stories from Oshkosh in upcoming issues of General Aviation News.

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