And no, that’s not an additional “A”. I spent the week at the National Business Aviation Association meeting on behalf of Aero-News.net. And boy, were there a lot of pretty airplanes.
Here we have the Honda Jet, certainly not in its natural habitat. Honda has had this aircraft in development for several years, and the only place it’s prettier is when it flies. Honda was one the few airplanes on the floor of the convention center in Orlando, and how they got there with no nearby runway had to be amazing. I didn’t see it. Along with the Honda, a Pilatus PC-12 was parked indoors at the convention center, which was sold during the show. There was also a Cirrus SR22X Edition, as well as the mockup of the Cirrus Jet.
But airplanes are usually best displayed outside, which was the purpose for the static display at Orlando Executive Airport.
This row of Cessna jets, along with a Grand Caravan and a 350 Corvalis. Off to the left are the Citation X models, one with the winglets that are showing up on more aircraft. I was up on a scissor lift with the ANN camera guys to get this shot. Cessna was one of the many recognizable names that brought their entire lines to Orlando for NBAA. Bombardier/Learjet, Embraer, Gulfstream. Pretty much if you ever dreamed of flying, or flying in one, it was on the static display at Orlando last week.
This is the MS760, an airplane as old as I am. Originally designed as a French military jet, it was marketed by Beechcraft back in the day as first of what are now known as VLJ’s, or Very Light Jets. Four seats, two engines, goes fast, but economical (for a jet), the people who fly it say it is very easy to fly. Here’s a jet you could throw dive bags in the back seat, a day pack with a bathing suit, clean shorts and flip-flops in the baggage compartment, and zip down to Treasure Cay in about an hour, turning heads at the airport on arrival. The company is putting together an aerobatic demonstration team featuring Dale “Snort” Snodgrass, who I was told was the pilot that was the inspiration for the movie “Top Gun”, and who flew many of the F-14 sequences in that movie, and Jerry “Jive” Kerby, 23 years in the Air Force and a top F-15 pilot. The best part is they’ll be practicing out of St. Augustine, which is a good reason to go to Caps On The Water to watch them fly.
Of course, for taxiing right up to the dock at Brendal’s on Green Turtle Cay, this would be the airplane of choice, for me anyway. The Dornier Seastar brings a long heritage of flying boats to this first all-composite example. But like most of the airplanes on the ramp last week, I’m going to have to win the lottery to be able to buy one.
So on the way out of town, I bought a ticket.
As far as the overall economy is concerned, though, I talked with a lot of people who said that, while traffic was down somewhat from past years, the people who were looking at the airplanes at NBAA this were were more serious. “Fewer tire kickers” was a phrase I heard more than once. From just the variety of pictures here, it’s fairly obvious that really any airplane can be a business airplane. From a 4 place piston aircraft to a 50-year-old Paris Jet … or a big, roomy, flying boat to the traditional bizjet, airplanes are a great way to get where you’re going, whether there’s a business meeting or a boat trip to the reef at the end of road.
Of course, the first time we went diving with Brendal, and we settled into a coral cavern about midway through the dive, he pulled out his slate and wrote “how do you like my office?” So maybe those two things aren’t THAT much different.