EAA AirVenture Oshkosh - The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration

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Shane Hamilton (right) of Aviation Jewelry reported an increase in sales this year.

The economy may be less than robust, the federal government may be in danger of running out of money, but AirVenture attendees came to Oshkosh in a buying mood, according to an unscientific poll of exhibitors, ranging from aircraft manufacturers to aviation jewelry vendors.

“The show has been fantastic,” said Piper Aircraft Marketing Director Jackie Carlon. “Leads are up 90 percent—good- quality prospects. We sold two Seminoles [twin-engine trainers], made a couple of other deals, and also made deals on a couple of Altaires and Meridians [the company’s single-engine jet, currently in development, and its turboprop, respectively].

“Even the bad weather days were good days.” (Booth 140-145, 156-161)

LSA manufacturer Flight Design USA reported “exceptionally strong sales” at the show. “We have taken 40 orders for the new C4, plus another eight orders for light-sport aircraft here at AirVenture 2011,” said John Gilmore, the company’s national sales manager.

“These orders are real product requests with money changing hands.” (Booth 83-87)

At Aviat Aircraft, Inc., manufacturer of the Husky bushplane and the Pitts S-2C aerobatic aircraft, President Stu Horn described activity as “Just marvelous—good traffic, good prospects, pretty good weather.”

While he spoke, a Venezuelan residing in Miami was doing some serious tire kicking on a Husky. Horn noted that by this time last year he had sold airplanes, and thus far this year had not taken any checks.

But, he noted, “The show’s not over yet.” He also has “very good prospects” coming to the company’s factory in Afton, Wyoming, next week.

Meanwhile, he said, “We’re continuing to innovate and move forward.”

Indoor action
In Hangar D, avionics distributor Sarasota Avionics International had a small crowd clustered in front of its glass case display. “The first two days were kind of average, but the day we thought was going to be the worst—the muggy day [Wednesday]—was one of the best we ever had,” said Kirk Fryer, company vice president and services director.

“Thursday and Friday were absolutely great.”

Fryer noted that “international visitors are out in force,” citing strong sales to South Africans and Brazilians. Among the big sellers: Bose aviation headsets and the new Garmin 750 touch-screen avionics suites, which the company installs.

“We’ve gotten 10 install orders at an average of $50,000 apiece,” he said.

“Pilots come to Florida from all over the country [for the installations].” (Booth 4082-4083, 4092, 4093.)

In Hangar B, Matt Liknaitzky of MGL Avionics, South African manufacturer of glass panel suites for experimental aircraft, said sales are running “a little less than some previous years, but spirits are up.

“We’ve had a fantastic show.”

Liknaitzky singled out the company’s new EFIS (electronic flight information system), the first touch-screen EFIS, as drawing particular interested from booth visitors. (Booth 2139-2140.)

A couple of rows over, Aviation Jewelry, which has been displaying at the air show for the last 35 years, described business as “awesome.”

“It’s up from last year,” said owner Shane Hamilton. “We’ve had a lot of sales, a lot of transactions. People are in such great moods.”

The big seller this year: an attitude indicator charm, suitable for a chain or earrings. As of mid-day Saturday, Hamilton said he was almost sold out of the item. (Booth 2116)
Bob Avery of Avery Tools in Hangar C, which sells tools used by many homebuilders, called sales “equal to last year,” but noted they are down from the highs of 2007 and 2008.

“Talk to any vendor and they’ll tell you the same thing,” he said.

Nonetheless, Avery declared, “It’s been a good show. We’re pleased” with the sales and floor activity. (Booth 3035-3036.)

On the other side of the hangar, Craig Barnett, president of Scheme Designers, which designs the livery for several aircraft manufacturers as well as aircraft owners, termed his sales of custom designed paint schemes “Superb. It’s the best Oshkosh we’ve ever had,” Barnett said.

He noted strong sales of paint schemes to owners of RVs and Cessna 210s and Bonanzas, and even for a rare Cirrus VK-30.

At the booth for Safe and Sound Pets in Hangar A, makers of the noise-shielding Mutt Muffs for dogs and other products for pets that travel on GA aircraft, owner Michele McGuire said sales were slow the first couple of days, but “from Wednesday on we’ve had a great show.”

She noted the company’s products aren’t only for animals on aircraft; Mutt Muffs are now being worn by canines serving in the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the sixth year the company is exhibiting at AirVenture.

“We’re not going to set any records,” McGuire concluded, “but it’s been a very good year.” (Booth 1069) AVT


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