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Mon, Sep 05, 2011

Best of Show! The Very Best/Worst of Oshkosh '11! (Part 2)

Compiled By The Staff and Readership of the Aero-News Network and Aero-TV -- Part 2

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...

Best Darned Ideas: Too Many To Count... BUT, we will mention the honoring of Bob Hoover, Aspen's Connected Panel concept and Redbird's amazing FMX as a few of our favorites... 





The Cloak Of Invisibility: Garmin. Normally the belle of the ball, Garmin was virtually silent at this year's Oshkosh. After finally updating some of the industry's most popular boxes (the nearly iconic GNS430 and GNS530), with the much upgraded GTN 650 and GTN 750, it seems that there was little left for Garmin to say or do... which surprises the heck out of us. Mind you; Garmin is facing incredibly strong and exceptionally innovative competition from Aspen, Avidyne and an invigorated Honeywell, and no one expects them to fold their tent and let them take over... but we're kinda surprised that Garmin was willing to let these up-and-comers take all the limelight... even for this one event. Stay tuned...    


Normally the belle of the ball, Garmin was virtually silent at this year's Oshkosh.

Best Warbird: B-29 Super Fortress, 'FiFi'. Of the nearly 4,000 that were produced, this is the only one flying in the world today and she is a joy to behold. 

B-29 Super Fortress, 'FiFi'

Funkiest Aircraft: Ted Smith/AeroStar TurboJet. Nice to see the original dream completed. Now with a price completed of $2.1M. Still, you have to weigh that against a Total Eclipse.

Hottest Prospect (not yet evaluated): Inogen Aviator. The Inogen Aviator is a lightweight, in-flight tankless pulse oxygen system for the general aviation community. Currently tested up to 13,500', the Inogen Aviator can either run off a cigarette lighter power interface or a 12 cell or 24 cell batteries (up to 3 or 6 hours respectively). The Inogen Aviator G2 Oxygen Concentrator is a supplemental source of oxygen for pilots in flight. It supplies a high concentration of oxygen and is used with a nasal cannula to channel oxygen from the concentrator to the pilot, or individual passengers, and is considered a single-user oxygen supply system.



 The Inogen Aviator is a lightweight, in-flight tankless pulse oxygen system

Best Airshow Performance: USMC Harrier. The demo pilot was super smooth and steady while conducting extended maneuvers. Best Harrier demo we've ever seen.  

Best Aero-Software: (A Tie) ForeFlight and Wing-X. The two companies offer a competing series of products that are updated (it seems) on nearly a daily basis... leaving both in a neck and neck race to see who’s the best... for a day or two and/or until the next evolution of their product line puts them on top... for a while. Either way, aviation wins. Annual subscriptions required. 


Best Avionics - Portable: Aspen Connected Panel. The community wants to be able to move data from mobile devices to their avionics and back.  Finally we have something that has done it. Hopefully many more will come to market also.

  Aspen Connected Panel

Best Avionics - Panel Mount: Avidyne AMX240, IFD540, AXP340, DFC90. Finally a complete avionics stack from a vendor other than Garmin. Let the competition begin -- and again, everyone in aviation will win from this type of competition.

Finally, a complete avionics stack from a vendor other than Garmin.

Best Accessory – Electronic: James Wiebe's Inline Fuel/Water Detector. Wiebe, an inventor and innovator in both Ultralight airframe and instrument design, revealed new sensor technology at AirVenture designed to annunciate water contamination in fuel. The sensor he has developed is reportedly sensitive enough to detect minute amounts of water as small as a 1 ml drop in the flow of fuel, and further stated the system was discriminatory enough to detect the difference between gasoline and jet fuel (kerosene). Prediction... if this really stands up, its a matter of time before it's in just about every airplane flying...  

James Wiebe's Inline Fuel/Water Detector

Best Non-Certified Flight Deck/Panel: MGL Avionics iEFIS. Completely redesigned hardware with touch screen. Features include a flexible design that allows the builder to completely customize the screen, with an exceptionally low price-point. The units come in sizes ranging from 7” to 15”.

Best Accessory – Safety: Alpha Systems AOA's. Fly the wing, not the ASI, and you'll tame the stall demon. Nothing more needs to be said. Every plane needs an AOA indicator.  

Best Accessory – Powerplant: Lopresti/Deltahawk Diesel Engine Firewall Forward Installation package. LoPresti Speed Merchants and Deltahawk Diesel Engines' SR20 “Shark” cowling has an air intake that provides unseparated flow, directed flow, and thermal coupling on demand to keep the engine in optimal temperature with the least drag possible.

Best Event/Exhibit Of Show: Sporty's Sub-Divided Exhibit Area. Good mixture of products in a cooperative marketing effort. 

Most Anticipated But Not Yet Ready For Primetime: Flight Design C4. Everyone was ready to really try out the mockup. They thought it would be like most in the past with the ability to get in an interior. Having only an exterior one was a big letdown.  Many people are very interested in this instead of a C172.

 Most Anticipated But Not Yet Ready For Primetime: Flight Design C4

The Most Educational Booth/Display: Lincoln Electric Welding. Training in every type of welding. 

Best Promotional Literature: Lincoln Electric Welding. They handed out more literature than any other booth we visited. 

Best Display/Booth/Presentation: Tornado Alley Turbo's George Braly. George just cuts through the crap and tells it like it is.  He told us what we needed to know on 100LL replacement and what was keeping us from “Fixing the Problem.”

Best New Tenant at Oshkosh: HAI's New Heli-Exhibit. Great design, cool, comfortable, phenomenal view, practical and interesting giveaways that promote aviation and feature women, and great for families as it includes a space for children complete with toys, crayons and coloring books.

 HAI's New Heli-Exhibit

Best New ANN Feature: Live Daily Coverage. We almost didn't do this, this year... but with all the new stuff we were unveiling (the new ANN website, among others), it just made sense to raise a the bar a little more. ANN's "Airborne" live Aero-TV coverage of each day's pivotal planes, people and products provided us a chance to test out a number of processes that will shortly reveal ANN's next big programming project... and we think you'll like it. 

 Best New ANN Feature: Live Daily Coverage

ANN's MVP: Nathan Cremisino. Nathan is one of those guys that you 'just depend on' -- a steadfast and expert part of the ANN Team, Nathan has taken charge of the Aero-TV process and made it his own with a solid work ethic, calm/good humor, a tremendous team spirit and the ability to get things done even when the chips are down. ANN would not be the same without his efforts. 

 ANN's MVP: Nathan Cremisino

ANN's Rookie Of The Year: John Ylinen. Every year, we meet a new stringer that surprises us... and while we've been inordinately lucky in our selection of stingers and staffers over the years, John's efforts at Oshkosh 2011 stand out. He did it all... he wrote, he took pictures, he brought solid GA expertise, and he even pulled off some pretty solid Aero-TV interviews. John really added a lot to our efforts this year and it was greatly appreciated. 

 ANN's Rookie Of The Year: John Ylinen.

Outstanding Personality (Commercial): Redbird's Jerry Gregoire. We admit it... we have an immediate predisposition towards innovative persons who color outside the lines... and Gregoire is one of those guys... and possibly the most visible such person breaking down aero-barriers in recent memory. Gregoire's redbird operation threatens to shake up flight training in a number of ways and based on what we've seen and the discussion that have taken place so far, we think you ain't seen nothing yet. 

 Outstanding Personality (Commercial): Redbird's Jerry Gregoire

Runner-Up: Concorde Battery's Skip Koss. Skip is one of those guys that has become a focal point of knowledge for an entire aero-industry segment... watching him work the booth at Oshkosh each year, doling out info, recommendations solutions and insights into all things battery and electrical is short course in Aviation Power 101. We're no sure that anyone in all of GA is more knowledgeable... but we're quite sure that no one does it as affably and professionally as Koss... one of the true treasures of the GA world. 

 Concorde Battery's Skip Koss

Outstanding Personality(s) (General): Bob Hoover. What can I say that hasn't been said already about a true American hero? Bob is one of those guys whose deeds will never be eclipsed by words... his or anyone else's. A true Aviation Icon, this bright, cheery gentleman is one of aviation's most amazing men, ad reason for aviators the world over to be proud of a world that has a guy like Hoover in it. Even after a life long on achievement an dealing with a lot of the physical issues that being nearly 90 years old presents... the bright smiling eyes that greet me each time we meet are a high point of my year... and gives me the proud ability to be a "Friend of Bob." That may be one of the great titles I will ever earn...  

The Incomparable Bob Hoover... Truly An Aviation Icon

True Gentlemen of Oshkosh: Dick Knapinski. He dealt with the world's aviation press courteously, and with a smile, regardless of the pressure they (OK, we) were putting on him. 

A True Gentlemen of Oshkosh: Dick Knapinski

Greatest Improvement Over Previous Oshkosh:  Drainage, drainage, drainage! Despite some serious rains, there was no repeat of last year’s infamous ‘Sloshkosh’.

 Greatest Improvement Over Previous Oshkosh: Drainage, drainage, drainage!

Dead Grass/Eroded Concrete Award: Boeing's B787 Dreamliner. No contest, the short visit by Boeing';s next-generation airliner was a huge hit and the non-stop lines of people trying to get just a few minute s onboard show that American ingenuity and creativity are still very much appreciated by the aviation world. 

 Dead Grass/Eroded Concrete Award: Boeing's B787 Dreamliner

The Steel Cojones Award: FAA Boss Randy Babbitt. Randy, who we oft figured its a pretty OK guy seems to be drinking too much of the FAA Kool-Aid. When asked about the nature of his support (or lack of it) for the ‘Pilot’s Bill of Rights’ by ANN’s Jim Campbell, Babbitt replied that, “I think we’re doing most of the that already...”  Sorry, Randy, we beg to disagree in the strongest possible terms... pilots and other airmen continue to be victimized by the FAA’s administrative procedures, the vagaries of FAA staff “hits” and a number of other issues... hardly something that fits with ANYTHING called a Pilot's Bill of Rights. 


The Steel Cojones Award: FAA Boss Randy Babbitt

--- More To Come!!!!

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


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