The annual Van’s Aircraft Banquet at AirVenture is a gathering of like-minded RV builders and owners to revel in all things Van’s. And, while the excuse of the evening was to celebrate the incredible 50-year history of the most successful line of airplane kits in the world, it was notable that the factory-organized event probably spent more time talking about the future. Perhaps that’s why they have been so successful, aways keeping an eye on how to evolve into the future while robustly supporting their past products.
They skipped the traditional banquet speaker this year and had several much shorter talks. Rian Johnson, President and Chief Technical Officer, talked a bit about the new RV-15 and showed the company’s video of the plane. Van told some highly entertaining stories of the early years that most of us had not heard before. Doug Reeves, the founder and head honcho of Vansairforce.net, also told stories of the early evolution of his wildly successful “type” website. You know he has over 32,000 registered users? He believes there are three times that number as “lurkers.” (The site is free to visit but you must register to post.)
Then, Jessica Cox from Tucson, Arizona, spoke. You may remember her as the young woman who was born without arms but flies an Ercoupe and does motivational speaking. She and Van’s have partnered to design the “Impossible Airplane”, an RV-10 with complete foot controls on the left, PIC side. This RV-10 will obviously have additional expenses and she is trying to solicit financial assistance as well as well thought-out and creative design ideas from the hive. The build has started and you can check out the project at: impossibleairplane.com.