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Mon, Aug 29, 2011

Best of Show! The Very Best/Worst of Oshkosh '11! (Part 1)

Compiled By The Staff and Readership of the Aero-News Network and Aero-TV-- Part 1

For quite a while, we have recognized the highs and lows inherent in the general and sport aviation community -- and yes, we’ve had a bit of fun in the process. There are but a few places where that is more a propos than at a major event like the Oshkosh Fly-In -- a place where one can take a solid read on the heart and soul of aviation. It's hard to know what really is going to make a difference and what really qualifies as exceptional unless you've been watching this industry carefully for several years... as we have.

Over the last few years, ANN readers remarks have been heavily incorporated into ALL aspects of this report, and not just the Aircraft awards and such. Their contributions have been carefully considered and (in many cases) incorporated into our annual summation.

The full list of our Annual Best Plane of the Year Selections (tentatively announced after Oshkosh and finalized at year's end) will await the end of the year. So; here are our picks for the Best and Worst of this year's Oshkosh... and why we think so...

The “Big” Story: Tom Poberezny Retires. It happened in the blink of an eye or so it seemed... with little warning and even less fanfare, Tom Poberezny called an end to a life-long career of service to the aviation world and while we were not always in agreement, these is not question that he his love for aviation was genuine and his impact, enormous. 

Tom Poberezny Retires...

 

The Story We Wished We Could Have Missed: The continued deceptions, fabrications and excuses of Cirrus Aircraft. Yes, I know we’ve beat this drum fairly strongly (and you haven't heard the worst of it)... but this is a company that is embarrassing this industry in a number of ways and will do amazingly vicious things to keep from having to explain itself -- and worse than that, few want to speak out against this noise for apparent fear of being the next victim of CA’s hate campaign. The original Cirrus entity, Cirrus Design (started and motivated, principally, by Alan Klapmeier), was a company that GA could and should be proud of... but this Cirrus, under the command of Brent Wouters scares us. This can not be where the future of GA is heading... if so, we’re sunk.

Why Has Cirrus Taken Such A Bad Turn???


Aircraft Awards:

Best Aircraft of Show (Overall): Boeing Dreamliner. It was an amazing sight... quiet, majestic and as technologically innovative as anything the airline industry is likely to see for a decade or more. When B787 001 came to Oshkosh, it was the chance for the entire world of aviation to celebrate yet another mammoth achievement in the furtherance of American aviation progress.

The Dreamliner makes an appearance at Oshkosh!!!

Runners-Up: Airship Ventures Zeppelin. This LTA-ship flew over 2100 miles to display at AirVenture. New, neat, unique, and super-maneuverable. 

 

Best Ultralight/Ultralight Trainer: E-Lazair. This aircraft showed the true promise of a revolution that is yet to begin... affordable electric sport aircraft. While E-Flight will have much to prove to the aviation world in terms of its ability to work commercially, we think that the first real adopters of E-Flight tech will be the sport aviation world... which will welcome it with open arms. 

 An Electric Lazair!!!

 

Best "Affordable Flyer": Sonex Ltd. ‘Onex’. For just plain flying around with no greater mission than having fun, we’d be hard-pressed to recommend something more economical and accessible than John Monnett’s amazing little ‘Onex’... a slightly thinner cousin to the two seat Sonex and its cousins, the Onex can be built for about $25K, and offers folding wings, sport acro capability, LSA adherence and more gigglesper gallon of avgas than just about anything we know. The Sonex bunch have their eyes clearly on keeping as many people in the flying game as affordably as possible... and the Onex is right on point.

The Onex can be built for about $25K!

Runner-Up: Plans built Legal Eagle. Cheap to build and cross-country capable. With this aircraft, everybody can now afford  to realize their dream of dancing with the sky.

 

Best "LSA": Kitfox A/C Kitfox SLSA. For less than $90K, you can get a stunningly rendered LSA that is an out-growth of one of the most popular SportPlanes of all time. Delightful to fly, economical to boot, and offering folding wings, as well as a choice of conventional or trike gear, the Kitfox SLSA comprises one of the best values in the LSA business... and if the rest of the industry was this competitive, there would be a far healthier industry to write about. We have no idea why there aren’t thousands of these things out there... so get yours quick before everyone figures out that this is one of the best bargains in sport aviation.

The Kitfox SLSA comprises one of the best values in the LSA business...

 

Best High Performance Kit Aircraft: Lancair Evolution. Looks and performs better than similar factory aircraft. Available in either recip or turbine favors, this is the aircraft that should have been put into production by the late and lamented Lancair/Columbia Aircraft program.

Best Rotorcraft: Honeybee Gyroplanes. A systematic program to move you from student to expert with the aircraft to match. Really fun to fly!

 Affordable and FUN... The Honeybee Gyroplane!

 

Best Certified Aircraft (At Oshkosh): Eclipse EA500 Total Eclipse. It’s fast, its cost-effective (for a jet), its beautiful, and its done. The original vision expressed years ago for the amazing dream of a true Very Light jet is now done and available to anyone with the right pocketbook. This is a magnificent machine and its becoming obvious that its best days are yet to come... 

Eclipse EA500 Total Eclipse

Oshkosh Show Stealer: Boeing Dreamliner. Huge, quiet, powerful. Destined for supremacy in the sky. Coming to an airport near you... 
 
I Gotta Get Me One Of These: Lockwood AirCam.
Panoramic view and a oneness with the sky in complete safety. Extremely enjoyable to fly, especially with floats. This is one of Jim Campbell’s favorite airplanes of all time. 

One of Jim's favorite birds...The Lockwood AirCam

 

Best Construction: Lancair Evolution built by Bob Wolstenholme. Most beautiful finish exterior and interior. The Carbon Fiber accents are just beautiful. Sez, ANN’s John Ylinen, ‘If I had the $; this would be my dream aircraft right now.’
 
Best Panel: (A Tie) Avidyne Release 9, and/or Aspen Evolution cockpit. Both these systems have much to recommend them and boast exquisite efforts to make them easy to use, exciting capabilities and are backed by companies that not only get these panels ‘right’ from the get-go, but continue to evolve and develop them both in delightful ways. Our next airplane will have either of these systems on board... or we won’t buy it.

Two extraordinary ways to fly -- Aspen's Entegra Release 9 and Aspen's truly amazing (and cost-effective) Evolution Glass panels

 

Best Upgrade: Aerostar Jet. A reciprocating engined aircraft turned into a high-flying jet aircraft with undeniable sex appeal. What every "Aerostarphile" dreams about. 

A high-flying jet aircraft with undeniable sex appeal

--- More To Come!!!!

FMI: Best/Worst of Oshkosh 2011 Comments? Complaints? Additions? Let Us Have It!

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