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First-ever EAA airplane auction adds excitement to AirVenture options
By Barbara A. Schmitz
 

Hundreds of people came to the first-ever EAA Spirit of Aviation Auction where 50-plus airplanes were available for sale. The auction was held in the Jack Mark Hangar on the north side of Wittman Regional Airport. Photo by Jim Koepnick

If the number of people sitting or milling around the Jack Mark Hangar was an indication, the first-ever EAA Spirit of Aviation Auction was a much-anticipated event.

Fifteen minutes before its scheduled start all 240 chairs were filled, leaving standing-room only in the hangar, located on the north side of airport next door to EAA's Weeks Hangar.

Sellers, buyers, and observers were there to see the 50-some airplanes up for bid-a diverse collection of homebuilts, warbirds, seaplanes, light-sport aircraft, jets, and others.

"This is a great turnout," said Tom Poberezny, EAA chairman/president and convention chairman. Our goal is to provide new opportunities and activities to our members. We are committed to making this an annual event."

After the auctioneer explained how the bidding process works, he had a "practice round" where the crowd could bid on a 787 Dreamliner. The crowd quickly caught on, with bidding starting at $1 million and quickly escalating to $150 million.

"Boeing just called," he said, joking to the winner bidder. "They want to know if you'd like a whole fleet at that price."

But soon there was no joking, as the auctioneer belted out the starting bid of a Cessna P337 and then asked for higher bids in staccato fashion.

The high bid for the Cessna was $75,000, while the high bids for an Alon Aircoupe A-2 and a V-35B Bonanza were $22,500 and $117,500, respectively.

The high bid for a Lake Amphibian DA-4-550 was $225,000, $150,000 for a Lancair/Columbia 300, and more than $900,000 for a Socata TBM 700.

However, reserves were not met on a majority of the planes, and only five airplanes actually sold.

Glenn Barnhart, of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, said he sold his 1946 Stinson 108-1 at the auction. "I decided to sell it here because I would get better exposure," he said. "I've never been involved in anything like this before.

"I flew out to Oshkosh in the Stinson, but now I have to walk back," he said.

"Not really," he quickly added, laughing. "I have a way back."

Watchful waiting…
Dale Gultch, of Brookfield, Wisconsin, came to the auction as an observer.

"I've never been to one before, and I wanted to see the operations since I'm thinking of maybe selling my own aircraft," he said.

Jose Iturbide of Guatemala was also at the auction as an observer, and he was interested in what the TBM 700 would sell for. "It's the plane I really want. But this year, I'm just doing research here."

Russ Darrow, of Houston, Texas, said he was also an observer. "I'm here to see what kind of prices people are getting and doing my research.

"But next year I'll probably participate." He was most interested in a Helio 391B.

David Van Gaalen, of Lethbridge, Alberta, put in bids on several airplanes. "I like that you can see all the airplanes at one location," he said.

"Plus, it's one more thing to do here for the week. "It makes coming to AirVenture more fun."

Mickey Meekins, of Lumberton, North Carolina, was another bidder at the auction interested in the TBM 700-and several other planes.
He predicted that auctions would become the norm to sell airplanes in the future.

"I'm really proud of the EAA president for doing this," he said. "I think this is the best thing they've done in a long time.

"EAA spent a lot of money on this, and it was really well-organized. They even over-advertised it because of the bad market."

The auction was conducted by real-estate auction company REDC and Auction.com, working in conjunction with EAA. Proceeds benefited EAA's youth and educational programs.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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