On my way back from first-ever experience at Oshkosh, confirming my view that a mass meeting of airplane enthusiasts and a mass drive-in of Harley Davidson owners are really not that different. But that is a theme for another day. Also having a reminder of the pitfalls of our beloved hub-and-spoke airline system: the total time it will take me to get from Oshkosh to San Francisco, allowing for the drive from Oshkosh to O’Hare and the three-hour delay of the United Airlines ORD-SFO flight, is way more time than it would have taken to fly a SR20-type plane direct.
Without going into all the details, I think anyone interested in Cirrusology would have taken a positive impression from the show. Other companies had splashier news to announce. Eclipse had a mockup of its plane. Lancair was talking about its “highway in the sky” flight-control equipment – which if it catches on, presumably will be must-have for all companies, from Cessna to Cirrus. As Ian Bentley pointed out wryly, “All we have to say is that we’ve just delivered the 53rd plane.”
But here were a few little observations. I welcome elaboration by any other members of the tribe who were there:
The organizational meeting for the Cirrus Owner’s Association was positive, I thought. Chris Jones talked about high practical value of having recurring training programs – based on the fact that every Cirrus owner’s competence and safety record affects rates for all the other owners. Chris Baker of Wings ALoft, who on small-world grounds had been my IFR instructor in Seattle, talked about WA’s development of a curriculum. Alan Klapmeier talked about new planes, existing plane, finance, and so on. It seemed a good start.
The ARNAV booth was right acoss from Cirrus’s. Mirabile dictu, they showed displays with all kinds of stuff on them – engine data, stormscope, weather radar, you name it. I asked them: OK, when will this stuff be available. They answered with variations on “real soon now” – but I got the impression that they and Cirrus were getting serious about expanding the power of this thing.
Paul Johnston and Tony (last name I forget) from Cirrus gave a forum about the history, technology, and performance of the parachute that I found very interesting and that got an appreciative response from the sizeable audience, which did not seem all to be made of Cirrus owners.
Cirrus has put out all sorts of paraphernalia --hats, key rings, tshirts, high-end briefcases. These things are clearly priced in a way meant to raise some production capital for the company. Still they look very nice.
That’s it from me. I hate United Air Lines, but I have approximately 5 zillion miles with them so can’t afford to go with anyone else. JF