Around the field at AirVenture Oshkosh

I’ve often found that AirVenture is like drinking from the proverbial firehose. Until I look back through my notebook, the show is a bit of a blur. We’ve reported many of the storylines from the show, but I found a few nuggets in my notebook I think are worth sharing:


Epic Aircraft is fully on the certified aircraft track. Its E1000 started life as the LT, a kit-built turbo-prop single. A total of 47 kits are flying today. The final seven are being built now, and the kit program will be no more after the 54th LT is completed, according to Mike Schrader, Epic’s director of sales and marketing.

Cirrus Aircraft casts a wide (and deep) shadow in the industry. At an Oshkosh-eve press event, Cirrus Aircraft’s Director of Flight Operations Travis Klumb said 53 CAPS (Cirrus Airframe Parachute Systems) events had returned 107 people to their families. Further, Cirrus has good reason to crow about a fatal accident rate below the industry average. The turning point was three accidents in a 24-hour period back in 2011. An emphasis on training for your lifestyle has paid huge dividends.

Avidyne has taken a page from the tech industry playbook and opened up access to the software that drives its products. Its SDK (software developer kit) comes in two flavors: Tier 1 is read-only, while Tier 2 will be able to read and write back to the the IFD540/440. The significance? Just like in the smartphone marketplace, there are huge numbers of people programming truly creative applications, and that’s what Avidyne is planning to power.

Not one, but four: Wipaire received 54 applications for the Ben Wiplinger Memorial Seaplane Rating Scholarship. This inaugural scholarship was supposed to be for one worthy applicant, but the scholarship committee had such a problem deciding, they found it easier to just pony up for four scholarships rather than choose just one recipient. “This is our little way of giving back,” said Wipaire president Chuck Wiplinger.


Delivering new technology to the aviation market is hard. It is nearly impossible if not properly funded. That funding — along with engineering and manufacturing experience — is what the Ruud family of Racine, Wisc., brings to DeltaHawk Engines. Alan and Christopher Ruud (father and son, respectively) took control of DeltaHawk Engines in May with a plan to take its “jet-fueled piston” engine and bring it to market in 2016. More powerplant options are a good thing. The fact the engine uses lead-free fuel is a great thing.

Speaking of lead-free fuel, did you hear about Swift Fuels‘ new 94-octane aviation-grade fuel?. If you have an auto-gas STC, you’re all set, assuming the fuel is available near you. I’ll ask the question for you…How much does it cost? Swift Fuels’ Jon Ziulkowski pulled up the AirNav website and showed me KRMY (Marshall, Mich.). Cost for 94 MON (listed as mogas on the website) is $4.15. 100LL is $4.80. At KAID (Anderson, Ind.), 94 MON is $4.25 while 100LL is $5.05. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Burt Rutan returned to AirVenture this year. A Theatre in the Woods session with brothers Burt and Dick Rutan and test pilot Mike Melville packed the house. A few quick and entertaining take-aways: The Rutan Aircraft Factory (RAF) created 367 aircraft concepts and flew 45. Dick said, “At Burt’s forum, a guy walked in and asked me, ‘Is Burt Rutan here?’ I looked at him and said, ‘I used to sleep with him, does that count?’” In response, Burt said, “What’s a fighter pilot [Dick was a fighter pilot, by the way] use for birth control? His personality.”

Unrelated: Dick Rutan likes to speak in the third person. After a few minutes I put down my notebook so I could enjoy the presentation along with everyone else. I hope EAA Video shares the evening with everyone.

The EAA Innovations Center was half filled with remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) displays and vendors. Each time I walked through the tent, the RPA side of the house was packed with people. The outdoor RPA flying cage was a-buzz with activity and the seating areas (even those in the sun) were constantly packed. No doubt there is interest in this segment of aerospace.


Turbulence is the name of a turbine-powered Lancair Legacy. I snapped a photo of it and posted it to our Facebook with the comment, “Turbine-powered Lancair Legacy at OSH15. I wonder if it’s fast?” To date, it has reached more than 450,000 people, shared more than 1,700 times, and generated more than 420 comments. It’s the only one in the world and according to owner-builder Mark Patey, has a dual spar, 33+% larger tail and reinforced everything. It has been flutter tested to 450 knots, but it flies exactly like a Legacy. Oh, and it is gorgeous.

If you haven’t been, put AirVenture on your calendar and make it happen. Next year’s show is July 25-31.