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Some of Aviationís Biggest Names at Aero

April 14, 2011 — The AERO Friedrichshafen Global Show for General Aviation in Europe opened Wednesday with a record 630 exhibitors from 29 nations in 11 indoor exhibit halls. Fifty percent of the vendors are from “abroad.” AERO will run through 5 p.m., Saturday, April 16, in the lovely southern German city of Friedrichshafen, on the shores of Lake Konstanz.

On opening day, a general reception was attended by some of the most famous names in aviation, who participated in a panel discussion about the future of aviation, especially electric flight. Leading the panel were Erik Lindbergh and Yolanka Wolf of the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize. They were joined by His Royal Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco, along with Wolfgang von Zeppelin, Sergei Sikorsky, Claude Dornier, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg.

Perhaps one of the most important comments of the discussion came from Sergei Sikorsky, who quoted Werner von Braun, saying “In aviation, use the word ‘impossible’ with great caution.” That statement epitomizes this group’s confidence in the viability of electric flight as an economical means of flight. An e-Flight Expo is an integral part of this year’s AERO.

EAA Chairman Tom Poberezny participated in a “state-of-the-aviation-industry” panel on Wednesday morning along with representatives of the German press, the German Aviation Association, the International Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and the CEO of Schempp-Hirth aircraft company. Poberezny challenged the group to focus on growing the pilot population.

“Without new pilots, the aviation industry cannot grow, he said. “But we have not created the infrastructure to sustain continuous pilot growth. In the past we relied on the military and the GI bill to create pilots. We need to create an infrastructure that insures the pilot population grows, that provides permanency to growth. We need to find ways to reach out to enthusiasts who are interested in flying and help them connect with the aviation world and each other, especially young people.  The young men and women of today are just as interested in flying as we were, but we need to reach out to them via the means they use to communicate.”

Light aircraft manufacturers - from ultralights/microlights to general aviation airplanes - naturally dominate the show. Many light-sport aircraft manufacturers are in attendance, to be expected as many of them are European-based companies.  Two of those companies, Flight Design and Tecnam Aircraft, took the opportunity to introduce their newest aircraft: Both unveiled four-place aircraft.

Flight Design is displaying a mockup of its C4, while Tecnam brought a production model PTwentyTen. Both manufacturers report good interest in the aircraft, with Tecnam selling two aircraft on the first day while Flight Design took 13 deposits of €7,000 ($10,150) Euro for the C4, which is expected to cost about €220,000 ($319,000). “The market needs a successor to the C-172 and C-182 that offers the comfort of modern airplanes, with good range, performance, and cost,” said Matthias Betsch, president of Flight Design.

So many airplanes, so little time; Aero 2011 is like EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for those who love airplanes. One of those airplane lovers, Everett “Ev” Turner, EAA 22612, of Vancouver, Washington, stopped by the EAA display on Thursday, April 14, to sign his name on the AirVenture Oshkosh aerial poster adorning the back wall of the exhibit. “Aero is one of the classiest aviation trade shows I have attended,” he said. A longtime “Oshkosh” exhibitor with Flight Comm, Turner discovered AERO in 2005 and has returned several times. “Such a beautiful area to visit and a great place to look at lots of airplanes indoors. It’s a great show...and the food is great!”

Beat Meyer, EAA 59776, of Vancouver, B.C., was visiting relatives in Switzerland and decided to visit the show. “We were close by, and my wife and I love airplanes, so of course we had to come.” Beat, who is a homebuilder, inspects homebuilts for Transport Canada, but he’s enjoying seeing the variety of aircraft at AERO. “We’re having a great time.”

See photo gallery here.

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