Editor's Viewpoint: The Past, Present, and Future

Where do you go to experience aviation history, aviation in its present-day form, and innovation all at the same location? EAA AirVenture is one place. On display and in the air you will see examples of aircraft from yesteryear, today’s most modern aircraft and accessories, and innovative ideas from the entrepreneurs and designers of what may be tomorrow’s aircraft technology. Numerous attractions and events are planned for attendees to become immersed in aviation. A few highlights for this year’s event that caught my attention are the salute to Naval Aviation, the World Symposium on Electric Aircraft, and a tribute to Burt Rutan.

Decades ago Burt Rutan began regular trips to Oshkosh where he’d display his unique experimental aircraft. His designs were always innovative creations, most of which were a departure from typical design and construction practices of the day. Over the decades several of his designs became hugely popular and I’d guess hundreds are flying all around the world. I myself have never flown a Rutan aircraft – but I’d like to. His team’s more recent creations are designed to experience flight into space and safely return, and yes examples of these aircraft and spacecraft have been on display at previous AirVenture gatherings. Burt Rutan has been one of those entrepreneurs and innovators with deep roots to EAA and Oshkosh.

I recently attended the 2011 UAS Action Summit in Grand Forks, ND. For two days leaders from industry, government, academia, and military discussed the future of unmanned aircraft in both civilian and military applications. Northrop Grumman gifted a full-scale model of a Global Hawk to the area’s Northland Community and Technical College Foundation, to be used in the college’s new UAS maintenance training program, underscoring the reality that UAS is an emerging industry in civilian aviation. The entire Summit was all about innovation, technology, and entrepreneurial spirit.

With all this talk of innovation, unmanned aircraft, and space flight, let’s not forget about the past. The staff of AMT was recently honored by a visit from the great-grandson of the man who is known as the father of aircraft maintenance. Charles Taylor II stopped by the office and visited one morning as he traveled through the area. We reminisced about his great-grandfather, the FAA’s Master Mechanic Award that bears his name, and the First Flight Centennial Celebration of 2003.

Connect with the past by visiting an aircraft museum or reading a book on aviation history. Experience the present and visit AirVenture; there really is something for every interest. Embrace the future; unmanned aircraft, electric powered airplanes; private space flight they all appear to coming our way. Look for the entire staff of AMT taking in the sights, sounds, exhibits, and forums at this year’s AirVenture Oshkosh.

Enjoy, Ron