Cirrus Design Corporation co-founders Alan and Dale Klapmeier have joined the ranks of Igor Sikorsky, Chuck Yeager, Jimmy Doolittle and other aviation luminaries, as the 2007 recipients of the Dr. Godfrey L. Cabot Award, the highest aviation honor given by the Aero Club of New England. Celebrated annually for 55 years by the nation’s oldest aviation organization, the Cabot Award recognizes individuals or teams that have made unique, significant and unparalleled contributions to advance and foster aviation or space flight. Other past winners include Adm. Richard Byrd, astronaut Walter Schirra Jr., Burt Rutan and Jeana Yeager of the Voyager team and Steve Fossett.
Cirrus Design composite aircraft have introduced thousands of pilots to the joys and benefits of general aviation and have helped invigorate the GA industry. Cirrus aircraft incorporate a number of innovative technologies, including the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System and “glass cockpit” integrated flight decks. Cirrus SR20 and SR22 aircraft are the fastest-selling aircraft in GA history, and the SR22 is the world’s number one selling aircraft for the past five years. Today, Cirrus holds a 33-percent market share, shipping more than 3,000 production aircraft.
ACONE, started the year before the Wright brothers’ historic first flight, has been in continuous operation for 105 years. The club joins active, former and non-pilots alike, who love to learn about, talk about and promote flying. The ranks range from the obscure to the legendary, yet all members contribute to inspire the enjoyment of life they say only flying can bring.
The Cabot Award bears the name of the club’s 10th president, who was an early supporter of the Wright brothers and the growth of American aviation. The dedicated support of the Cabot Family Charitable Trust makes this award possible.
Representing himself and his brother at the award ceremonies, Alan Klapmeier described his lifelong love for airplanes, along with the opportunities and challenges the brothers faced in starting a new company in an industry leery of innovation and change.
“Trying to bring new innovations to a longstanding industry can be extremely difficult, both financially and in endurance, since many ‘aviation experts’ said it couldn’t be done,” said Klapmeier, now Cirrus chairman and CEO. “But adding new products to a plane brings more value. After all, isn’t that the best way to sell an aircraft?”
Klapmeier also called on today’s pilots to acknowledge the challenges in aviation, but also to actively reach out and recruit tomorrow’s aviators.
“Too many of us are too into ourselves,” he said. “We need a stronger outreach program to attract more people to aviation. We should get rid of the so-called ‘superman image’—that you’ve got to be a superman to fly an airplane. We should tell people about the functionality of the plane, the open skies, the romance and excitement and fun of flying.”