If Paris is the Big Daddy of airshows–high-powered, straight-laced and eminently button-down–then Oshkosh is the Big Mamma, her arms open wide as the Wisconsin prairie, beckoning teeming masses of aviation enthusiasts to their spiritual home in the heartland of America. So what better place could there be than the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture to really kick off the centennial of the first manned, powered flight?
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Last week at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., Plastek CEO Gus Ordonez announced a version of the company’s military window repair and restoration kit for the civil market. Signal Hill, Calif.,-based Plastek’s aviation-grade polish comes in 12 different strengths, depending on the type of window plastic.
For the first time in Piper Aircraft’s 71-year history, the company has flown a homegrown jet airplane. Yesterday morning, hundreds of the aircraft manufacturer’s employees watched, and celebrated, the successful maiden flight of the PiperJet from Vero Beach (Fla.) Airport, which is also home to Piper.
Yesterday afternoon, Cirrus test pilot Kent Vandergrift flew Cirrus Design’s prototype Vision SJ50 single-engine jet to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., concluding his flight with a high-speed pass and a landing on Runway 27. After the jet was towed to a stage in AeroShell Square, Cirrus founders Alan and Dale Klapmeier congratulated the Cirrus team members who helped make the jet possible.
EADS Socata celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first flight of its TBM 700 with a new and larger display at the 56th EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., held July 28 to August 3. Two 2008 TBM 850s, equipped with Garmin G1000 integrated avionics and outfitted with a new-style cabin interior, are the centerpiece of Socata’s 10,000-sq-ft display. These aircraft will also carry the TBM 850’s new paint scheme.
Almost a year after first unveiling the deal, GE Aviation last month announced the completion of its acquisition of Prague, Czech Republic-based turboprop engine maker Walter Engines. The new GE division will operate as Walter Aircraft Engines.
Last year at EAA AirVenture Embraer announced the first flight of its Phenom 100 very light jet. While it wasn’t able to announce type certification at this year’s show in Oshkosh, Wis., the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer did say yesterday that the twinjet is nearing the finish line. So far, four flight-test Phenom 100s have logged more than 1,000 flight hours in the certification and maturity campaigns.
What a difference a year makes. At last year’s EAA AirVenture, Eclipse Aviation founder, president and CEO Vern Raburn made a dramatic entrance to the show aboard the Eclipse Concept Jet. At this year’s show, however, Raburn made a surprise exit, announcing yesterday that he was stepping down from the very light jet manufacturer.
Eclipse Aviation is back on the In the Works chart with the May launch of the EA-400 four-seat 330-knot single-engine jet. Although Eclipse has yet to make a formal application to the FAA for the EA-400 type certificate, the company has begun taking orders from existing Eclipse 500 buyers and opened the order book to new customers at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh late last month. Price is $1.35 million (2008 $).
Duluth, Minn.-based Cirrus Design flew its jet, now called the Vision SJ50, for the first time on July 3. The Williams FJ33-4A-19-powered prototype, under the control of test pilot Tim Berg, lifted off from Duluth International Airport and flew for 45 minutes before landing back at the airport.
The company expected to bring the flying prototype to last month’s EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis.