AirVenture, Young Eagles, And LSA
It was an interesting year for the Aero-Biz... and few
organizations had as big a stake in 2005 as did EAA.
EAA Boss Tom Poberezny (above) went through the year, warts and
all, with ANN Editor-In-Chief Jim Campbell to talk out the best and
worst of 2005 and to check with the Poberezny crystal ball for a
gander at our collective prospects for 2006. Part One of that candid interview is our
ANN Special Report Aero-Cast for Tuesday... but we
think some of his comments bear repeating in print.
2005 was the year that Sport Pilot got some serious air-time,
the Young Eagles recorded its 1.2 millionth flyer, and the
annual rites of Oshkosh were some of the some the best we
remember... all in all, a good year for sport aviation.
To begin, Oshkosh 2005 featured such special visitors as
WhiteKnight, SpaceShipOne, and the GlobalFlyer... but also saw such
notables as the HondaJet (above) -- which goes to show that
"[Oshkosh] has become the place where innovation is introduced and
recognized," said Poberezny. "What AirVenture is, is a mirror of
what EAA is on a year-round basis."
The EAA's Young Eagles program also saw over 90,000 kids fly for
their first time this year. The EAA also signed its 1.2 millionth
member to the program... but sadly, there was also loss, as the
program suffered its first fatalities when a Young Eagles pilot and
two young girls went down on takeoff from Washington's Payne
"That was an emotional time for all of us, and very
debilitating," said Poberezny. "But as a result of that, too, the
outpouring of support and recognition for the program... was
Where the EAA has seen some of its greatest
accomplishments, however, was in the still-emerging Light Sport
"This was an important year for making progress and building a
solid foundation on Sport Pilot," said Poberezny. "We've come from
having a lot of skeptics -- and there still are -- to the point
where more and more people are jumping onboard, and building a
"A lot has been invested by the EAA and various members of the
sport pilot community to making sport pilot a reality, and its a
marathon," added the EAA President. "It's a 26-mile marathon, and
we're probably only at mile three or four."
While the light-sport
market is growing, however, so are the price tags on the entries,
with the average price of entry to an LSA hovering around $85K.
Poberezny is hopeful, though, that future designs will lower future
prices closer to $45K... and stresses that today's offerings in LSA
still provide a far more cost-effective entry route into
"[LSA price tags] are still significantly below the market
prices on used airplanes," said P. "And the main thing is, that
$65-$85 bracket is less than half the cost of a new production
In summary, on LSA the EAA has "made progress in 2005," says
Poberezny. "Can I call it significant, given the size and scope of
the marketplace? No... but I think we've established credibility
now... to say that people will respond, and they're
There were downfalls, as well... The ADIZ fight reached a fever
pitch, other security issues got in the way, the 51% rule got
pushed a tad too far and SportPlane accident stats were a bit
higher than we'd prefer. Poberezny has a lot to say about those, as
well... but those will have to wait for Part Two.