All Hail The Aero-Heroes of 2009!
Final Compilations by ANN
Editor-In-Chief/Trouble-Maker, Jim Campbell
It is both the most "fun," and most
difficult, task facing the ANN staff at the end of every year --
determining who, or what, did the most to promote the cause of
aviation in the past 365 days... while also chastising those people
or entities that did all they could to undermine the many successes
the aviation/aerospace community has managed to accomplish.
Thankfully, 2009 was a year in which we saw the best and brightest
among us step forward and work tirelessly on behalf of us all. No
doubt about it... the challenges we faced in 2009 were numerous,
and ongoing... so was the quality of expertise and passion brought
to our defense by those who heroically demonstrated to the world
the very best side of aviation... via their deeds, words and
It is ANN's honor to recognize Ten persons/organizations or groups
that qualify as our Aero-Heroes for 2009... in something of an
informal order, starting from the 10th to the 1st. Let us know what
you think of our selections... whom YOU would have liked be
included or omitted from such a list. In the meantime, we thank the
folks who made this year's list. Thank you, folks... we really
needed you this year, and you didn't let us down.
ANN will list our Top Ten choices over the next few days's, but
in order to kick off the New Year right, let's enjoy another
selection from our Heroes List for 2009...
Aero-Heroes #6 -- Dan Schwinn and the Innovative Avidyne R9
It's easy to be impressed with the
developmental revolution that has taken place in the avionics
industry... the feature sets and capabilities of today's 'lectronic
wunderboxes' are simply breathtaking when you look back just a few
years and compare what we have now with what we had then. BUT... if
there is an area in which the avionics industry has dropped the
ball, it's been its insistence on prioritizing capabilities over
usability... As a matter of fact. it has done some modest
damage to itself with pilots who have psyched themselves into
believing that they can not possibly learn to use all the features
today's avionics bring to our aircraft.
SO... enter Avidyne (Rev. 2)... a little bruised from having
pioneered a whole new segment of GA avionics and then lost market
share to the 600 pound Olathe gorilla (Garmin) and their
immense resources -- as well as mis-steps they made in service and
support that cast a pallor over the company for several years.
Avidyne's Dan Schwinn realized that his company needed a second
chance... and needed to make sure that THIS TIME, they were able to
not only raise the bar, but to loft it totally over the heads of
the rest of the competition.
While they KNEW they had to match the featureset of the
competition, they were smart enough to realize that MAJOR POINTS
could be scored if they devoted the same genius to the human
interface as they did to the overall capabilities of what would
come to be known as "Release 9."
Release 9 is a winner... it is THE MOST USER-FRIENDLY avionics
system in GA... and the human interface is so good that the rest of
the industry should run (not walk) to the drawing board and figure
out how to keep up. The single-pilot IFR environment, in
particular, is incredibly intense and getting busier by the day...
so, offering competitive features that are meant to be used,
easily, safely, and quickly seems like such a no-brainer.
Especially; now that we've spent so much time sitting behind
our own R9-equipped cockpit--and been truly blown away.
Our system has behaved flawlessly, works like an absolute
charm, and is so user-friendly that it is literally enjoyable to
We expect even greater things from Avidyne in 2010, as the
release 9 featureset is completed and their new generation of
highly-capable digital autopilots comes to market... which gives GA
both a powerful ally and another powerhouse from which
all manner of amazing things can result. In just a few short years,
the company that too many were counting as 'down and out' has
reappeared and reinvented itself -- stronger, wiser, and
clearly ready to stay a MAJOR player in the highly competitive
world of modern avionics.
And I must add that no kudos for Avidyne would be complete
without acknowledging their new insistence on providing solid and
simply exceptional customer service. With that, no company shows as
much potential in terms of product line and market insight, at the
moment, as Avidyne does right now in cementing its place among the
leadership of the GA Avionics industry. As such, Avidyne has been a
wonderful story to tell... and one that should serve as an
inspiration to all those who love and value aviation. We simply
can't wait to see what's next...