Sales robust at Oshkosh

Oshkosh is over and before it ended many expressed a common thought: We love to go to Oshkosh; and we really love to go home when it’s over.

While stated with a somewhat humorous overtone, the truth is that AirVenture is a tough slog for those who work the show. Twelve-hour days are standard and that may not include going out for dinner or to an on-the-grounds party with clients or customers. Add to that the heat and humidity of summer, plus a gust front or a rainy day or two, and you see why aviation business people are happy to call it a week on the final Sunday of the summer’s big celebration of flight.

Despite the challenges of AirVenture, more than 800 exhibitors find the show a compelling part of their annual aviation calendar. Any business that attends for a few years and then backs away may be considered to be in financial trouble by the legions attending the event, even if this may be far from the truth. Companies become, as the saying goes, “Conspicuous in their absence.”

The cost to attend is much more than the cost of display space. Hotels raise their prices — sometimes by triple — and the cost of moving airplanes, equipment, and personnel to Wisconsin add up to, for many companies, their single biggest marketing expense of the year.

However, the value in going to Oshkosh is also demonstrable. This year, AirVenture was an excellent place to do the business of aviation. Even while Congress fumbled the national debt and the FAA was partially shut down for lack of a budget, aviation appeared to show signs of life far improved from last year’s AirVenture. If you hear a collective sigh of relief from aviation purveyors, it is because Oshkosh 2011 represented a sharp upturn. Companies sold airplanes in numbers we have not seen for three years, and that is both a relief and a reason to race home and fill those orders.

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