I got the privilege of going to the EAA AirVenture at Osh Kosh this year. It was my first Osh Kosh experience. I’ll be the first to tell you, walking in the gate on the first day is mildly overwhelming. There are people and stuff everywhere. Airplanes, tents selling everything from airplane parts to mattresses (I wasn’t really sure how mattresses tied to flying), vendors, colleges, and loads of people.
After I gathered myself from my initial shock, I set out to explore all that I could. I spent most of the first morning walking around the different manufacturer’s tents, getting a gauge on all the new airplanes I could never afford and only hope to ever fly.
The short of it is, the Cessna/Textron Denali is going to be stellar once it gets completed. The Epic E1000 (if it ever gets certified) might take a large market share from TBM, though they will have an uphill climb. The Cirrus Vision Jet is very cool and should be a relatively simple step up for SR22T owners. The Pilatus Jet is huge. Finally, the Diamond DA62 would be my below 12,500 airplane and the Piper M350 would be my pressurized plane. Money being no factor, of course.
I decided to take in the entire airshow on Day 1, all 4 hours of it. Upon realizing I would be very stiff necked if I did that each day for the three days I was there, I decided on Day 2 to check out some seminars and learn something. I took a seaplane ground school course on Day 2, then listened to a NASA presentation on electric airplanes and low boom sonic jet technology (how to make supersonic passenger flight quieter).
The end of Day 2 at Osh Kosh had to be the highlight. I got to hang out with Cub Crafters at the 51WI grass strip just north of the OSH Class D airspace. There was a free BBQ and I got to take a ride in a Carbon Cub. My landing from the back seat was a bit rusty, but still a very cool experience. Buzzing the BBQ area in tandem was pretty neat.
Day 3 brought some cooler temps and some clouds. We walked out to the vintage airplanes, spending the morning gawking at Cessna 195s and Wacos. Then I took the plunge to explore all the vendor hangars. My idea was to walk around and see if I can find some interesting and innovative technology. Well, after 2 of the 4 hangars, my head was spinning, so I decided to watch the rest of the airshow to let my brain drain out a bit.
3 Days was a good amount of time to spend. I don’t think I could have stayed all week, but only a day or two wouldn’t have been worth it. I flew up with a former student in his TBM 700, which was a very nice way to travel. We landed and stayed in Green Bay (KGRB), which was super easy and low stress. Had a great tailwind on the return and made it to Houston non-stop.
A few closing observations:
The Stratos 716X Personal Jet
If Stratos Aircraft is ever able to bring this to market, it sounds awesome. 400 knots, single engine, single pilot, with 6 seats. Being a single engine jet, similar to the Cirrus Vision Jet, it’s 100 knots faster, plus with the airflow and engine technology, it doesn’t have that big V Tail in the back, thereby reducing drag. I have a feeling it would find a good market, but the certification process is a bear to get through. Just ask Epic.
The Lancair Mako
This is a legit airplane. Lots of thought was put in to the design of the Mako by the new Lancair organization in Uvalde, TX (KUVA). The airplane was extremely comfortable, capable, and pretty cool. The stick is in the center, with throttles on the side (where the stick would be in a Cirrus or Columbia). AC, full Garmin integration, and the cool factor of the nose gear retracting, but not having a gear handle. Higher useful load than a Cirrus or Columbia, it would be a great alternative (and cheaper) to one of it’s certified competitors.
There is a lot of new avionics technology hitting the market. Dynon, beloved by experimental enthusiasts, is finding a foothold in the certified world with some neat panels. It will be an uphill battle to take on Garmin, but there is some potential in the retrofit market to offer a cheaper alternative to the Garmin TXi.
Speaking of the TXi, I played around with the 10.7″ panel at the Garmin booth. It is extremely intuitive. Garmin did a great job of making it a simple touch screen interface, easy to use, and easy to learn.
Avidyne is pushing their iPad integration with the IFD 100 iPad app. It ties via Wifi or Bluetooth to an IFD 550 or 440 navigator, giving an additional screen in the cockpit to work with. You have the ability to modify flight plans and such on the iPad and it will show up on the GPS units.
All in all, Osh Kosh was an experience I’m glad to have finally experienced. I don’t think I would go every year like some folks, but every few years, especially when my sons are older, seems like just enough for me, but not too much.
All Photos Courtesy of William Day, copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved