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Better Shoppers This Year in North Aircraft Display
By Randy Dufault
July 25, 2015 - Commercial displays gathered around the Exhibit Hangars at AirVenture 2015 take up a good share of the convention grounds. Highly designed display areas host gleaming examples of aircraft, engines, and avionics. But that is not the only place on the grounds to examine and buy one’s dream airplane.
Manufacturers who build many of the most popular experimental amateur-built kit types are gathered, as they have for many, many years, in the North Aircraft Display area.
Located just south of the Warbirds area, North Aircraft Display is the last bastion of an earlier convention grounds commercial display area. It is home for popular manufacturers like RANS, Zenith, Sonex, and the biggest of them all, Van’s Aircraft.
A typical display in the area lacks the spit and polish of the larger commercial area. In many cases a simple canopy tent is all that accompanies the most important aspect of the booth, the airplanes.
When asked about how AirVenture is going this year Ken Scott of Van’s said, “I think it is better than last year. Things are a little more upbeat, and there seems to be more people.”
Van’s is showing off its all-new taildragger configuration for the RV-14. According to Scott the airplane came out of the paint shop last Friday, and they flew it here to Oshkosh on Saturday.
A sign on Van’s tent shows that 9,135 examples of the company’s designs are now flying.
A key draw for Sonex this year is its SubSonex personal jet. One example is on display in the Sonex booth and another of the little craft is performing in both of today’s air shows. The company has delivered seven kits so far, and according to John Monnett, founder and president of Sonex, two of those are very near completion.
Sonex has the distinct advantage of being headquartered here in Oshkosh. Factory tours are offered each morning, and they have all filled up quickly during AirVenture 2015.
“We did something we’ve never done before,” said Michele Miller of RANS Designs. “This year we have a couple of airplanes that you can buy and fly [home]. We don’t typically do that.”
“Customers seem a little bit more informed this year,” said the company’s owner, Randy Schlitter.
Miller added, “They seem like they are doing their research before they get here.”
RANS is featuring its S-20 Raven model, along with a host of improvements to the classic S-7 Courier design. Both aircraft are available in kit or factory assembled form.
Miller said that the RANS booth has been very busy, and the mood of the crowd is very positive.
Other popular manufacturers making their home in North Aircraft Display include the Zenith Aircraft Company, Hummel Aviation, and Kitfox Aircraft.
One of the aircraft on display in The Airplane Factory’s booth was flown to Oshkosh all the way from South Africa by Mike Blyth and Patrick Huang. The trip took 10 days.