By Jerry Lips
Many aviation “experts” didn’t give Bill Lear much of a chance. The experts weren’t much kinder to Frederick Smith when he proposed an overnight document delivery service called Federal Express or Richard Santulli when he thought up fractional ownership with NetJets.
It seems that great ideas are often greeted with great skepticism by the experts. Vern Raburn, recipient of the Aviation Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2005 not only suffered the wrath of the “experts,” but like Lear, Smith and Santulli, he also experienced bumps in the road on his journey toward changing the world.
It has become obvious to even the experts that Vern Raburn has changed the world of aviation. He has created a whole new industry within an industry. If there were a fund specializing in just VLJ (very light jet) stocks, it would probably rival Google for front-page business news. Every day there’s news about Eclipse, Cessna, Embraer, General Atomics, Adam, Cirrus, Diamond, Excel-Jet, Avocet, ATG, Epic, Eviation, HondaJet and others. The VLJ industry has exploded and it all started with one man–one visionary that proved to the world of aviation that the whole pie could be bigger.
On November 18, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, General Douglas MacArthur, Baron von Richthofen and others got together for a practice party–an evening of gambling, drinking, carousing and sharing of tall tales. It was a practice party for a planned get together for the “Living Legends of Aviation.” Five years ago, when we launched Airport Journals, we established a goal of interviewing and profiling a list of aviation greats–we call this list “The Living Legends of Aviation.” The list includes pilots who have become celebrities, like Clay Lacy, and celebrities like Harrison Ford who have become pilots. Aviation genius Burt Rutan, and entrepreneur Vern Raburn, aerobatic champions Bob Hoover and Patty Wagstaff, extraordinary patrons of aviation Bruce McCaw and Steven Udvar-Hazy, historians Greg Herrick and Bob Pond, innovators, inventors and industrialists, record breakers, revolutionaries and visionaries are all included in the book of “Living Legends of Aviation.”
The book is nearing completion and our practice party was in preparation for the gathering of the “Legends.” It will be an opportunity for the “Legends” to get together “without fanfare, cameras or media.” This is an invitation-only event where the “Legends” can enjoy the extraordinary opportunity of getting together to enjoy their common denominator–aviation.
Di Freeze, our editor and author of this stunning collection of interviews and profiles, has done a remarkable job compiling and editing this first-class, hard-cover collector edition that will soon be ready for publishing.