Aspen and Bendix/King Bend the Value Curve

Aspen 1000 VFR PFD

To me value means getting more for the same or less money. With two new products from Aspen and Bendix/King we actually have capabilities that just weren’t available for most personal airplanes before. And the price is what makes them a great value.

For airplane owners who fly VFR only–which is by far the majority–you can now get an Aspen flat glass PFD priced for the way you fly. And Bendix/King has introduced the AeroWave 100 satellite communications transceiver that will keep you wired to the internet and email world in flight.

The Aspen 1000 VFR flat glass PFD is the same size as the company’s other systems so that it fits into the space occupied by the attitude and directional gyros in the panel.

The VFR display uses the same non-spinning electronic gyros to show attitude and slaved heading, along with an electronic air data computer to calculate airspeed and altitude. The system also has Aspen’s internal backup battery that will keep it functioning for at least 30 minutes if ship’s power is lost. With the Aspen you can toss the vacuum pump and still have precise and reliable attitude and heading.

The difference is the VFR unit doesn’t have exactly the same software as the 1000 Pro series so it shows a compass card instead of an HSI, and there aren’t glideslope pointers and some other details IFR pilots need. But the VFR unit costs only $4,995, around half of the IFR system.

The great news is that the Aspen VFR system has the same hardware as the IFR unit so it can be upgraded to IFR capability at anytime by purchasing the IFR qualified software. You can also add Aspen’s synthetic vision to see the terrain ahead and under you. And most all of Aspen’s other options are also available.

What Aspen did is keep all of the TSO qualification and other requirements so the VFR system can be installed in a standard category airplane without charging you for capability you are not likely to want flying VFR. Installing the Aspen unit will be as inexpensive as possible because it fits with essentially no instrument panel modifications.

Satcom systems have been flying in large business jets for several years, but the Bendix/King AeroWave system is sized and priced for just about any size airplane, including piston singles.

The complete AeroWave system weighs less than 15 pounds, and the antenna is only about twice the size of a standard GPS antenna. But the real magic of the AeroWave is the price of $19,999. Any other satcom system I’m familiar with costs more than $100,000 and is too big to fit on typical personal airplanes.

Part of the AeroWave advance is Bendix/King technology, but equally important are new more efficient satellites. Earlier satcom systems require very high gain antennas to communicate with the satellites. Often the antenna needs to be steered to point at the satellite as the airplane moves.

The AeroWave can use a low gain antenna with no moving parts and still deliver high speed data reception so you and your passengers remain in our normal “wired” world for the entire flight.

Bendix/King has not yet announced which satellite network AeroWave will use but did say the fee will be by the hour of connectivity, not by the amount of data received as many other systems do. The company says the data fees will be a fraction of existing satcom systems and, because the fee is based on time not amount of data, the cost will be predictable.

The AeroWave can be connected to a wireless router so all your personal electronic devices work in the airplane. Staying connected will be a huge advantage for passengers, and satcom could also be a critical safety link for pilots in an emergency.

Both the Aspen VFR flat glass and the Bendix/King AeroWave give us new and more capability in our airplanes for a whole lot less money. That’s value.

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47 Responses to Aspen and Bendix/King Bend the Value Curve

  1. Sarah A says:

    Nice but compared to the existing products available to Sport Aviation already (Dynon SkyView, Garmin G3X, etc…) a bit pricy and low in features.

  2. TedK says:

    Why would an Experimental need a $20k Satcom system? Yeah, maybe in my CEOs BizJet, but the only thing I might need in a home built would be an Iridium phone that I can rent for a couple of hundred bucks on the very rare situation that I cross the Pond.

    By the way, the real cost in Satcom isn’t in the installed equipment, it is in the subscription and costs per call. Typically the satcom model is “give away the syringe but charge for the drugs.”

    Mac- why don’t you look at SARA and let us know when us part 91 folks will get avionics sans TSO (and without the TSO costs).

    Satcom? I’ll look for that in the NBAA rag.

    • Mac says:

      Hi Ted,
      I don’t think we will see avionics without some sort of certification in standard category airplanes anytime soon. What is most likely under the FAR Part 23 rewrite is a industry standard system similar to the ASTM rules that govern LSA. The process would be quicker and more responsive than the FAA certification system.
      However, we need to be ready for the unintended consequence of shortened avionics life similar to what we have seen in consumer electronics. As some have pointed out, Apple has worked through five versions of the iPhone in the same time required to develop and certify a single avionics system. And when the new version comes along support for the previous models fades pretty quickly. We are used to very long life cycles for our avionics and part of the reason for that is the difficulty of introducing new models.
      Rapid technology change is mostly a good thing, but it will come with its own price and hassle factor. I don’t think we will spend a lot less in total on avionics in the future, but with new standards we will get more for the money and redo our panels more frequently.
      Mac Mc

      • Thomas Boyle says:

        So you’re saying we’ll spend the same amount, but get a lot more for it. Sounds like a bargain!

        And why? Less regulation.

        Seriously, when you buy a radio, do you really care about “TSO” or is “Bendix/King” good enough for you?

        • Sarah A says:

          If you think about it anything like a comm radio already has to pass FCC standards so why add a layer for the FAA because it is going into an airplane. Look at what you can get in a hand held GPS vs. a panel mount and you can see what cost the FAA is adding. That is the beauty of LSA and EAB, we can skip the TSO’s and use what provides the best performance for the lowest price. Not to say that there are times when that certification burden has a purpose. An IFR GPS used for approaches needs to be bullet proof so to speak. You cannot go that close to the ground in IFR conditions without a lot of checks built into the system to ensure that you have a clean and reliable signal. As for other forms of avionics, the EAB/LSA world has shown that the threat of litigation keeps the companies in line and not producing dangerous junk.

  3. Steve says:

    Ok Mac, I have refrained from commenting on you posts for a very long time now. Mainly because I have seen that it is a hopeless cause trying to get you to embrace the experimental community. Oh, I do understand you ocasionally throw out a sentence or two or maybe even a paragraph in a post with a brief comment about experimental aircraft when writing about your beloved twin Baron, flying IFR, discussing turbo props or certificated avionics that are far more expensive and with much less functionality than every non-certificated experimental EFIS in the market.

    I also understand you have a contention of followers that live in the IFR/certificated aircraft world that continue to pat you on the back for writing about all of those things that deal with non-experimental topics but you really should work on spending equal time writing articles about the experimental community’s needs, wants and desires also.

    If you are going to discuss ideas like ‘value’ and ‘price’ and only consider the value it may bring to a Baron flyer as you write to your EXPERIMENTAL READERS you are basically telling that group of readers you are not too interested in their interests. It looks like to me you are simply treating your position at EAA as just a job that allows you to continue writing what you have always written about in the past, regardless of the fact that your readers keep telling you they are not interested in seeing such topics in a publication oriented toward the experimental world. For every couple of articles about IFR flying/turbo prop aircraft discussion/twin Baron loving, why not write one article that only discusses experimental issues, without having one mention of IFR flying or flying a Baron? Go fly a Kitfox and tell us about it. Or be even bolder and go up in an ultralight some time. Expand your horizon a little and then write about it! That would be more interesting than reading yet another same old same old about flying in the IFR system.

    • Sarah A says:

      I do not think I could have said it any better. Why in the world is there an article under the Experimental Aircraft Association (yes that is what EAA stands for !!!) Sport Aviation magazine banner that touts the great new SATCOM system for only $20K ??? How many of us out here even spend $20K on our entire aircraft. Week after week I see Mac putting out these atricles/blogs that have absolutly nothing to do with this organization. OK maybe he was out of a job and someone threw him a bone but come on, at least try to taylor the writing to the audience.

      • David P says:

        Like Steve I’ve not commented for a long time, have simply tuned out the boring drone of yet another fawning pitch for advertiser dollars & free gear for Mac’s panel. The article suggesting we all need stick shakers almost woke me up.

        But wow. You wrote this in the same week that the new Dynon SkyView was unveiled. And where’s the outrage at Aspen charging $5,000 for nothing other than a minor software change?

        But it wouldn’t

      • Bill Tomlinson says:

        Totally agree!!

    • Mike Bills says:


      I understand where you are coming from. However, even though you are evidently an experimental builder, owner and pilot there are many readers out here just like me who are owners and pilots of certificated aircraft. No I would not be interested in the satellite system but I am very interested in the Aspen PFD that would allow me to remove my vacuum pump and replace my AI and compass resulting in less operating cost. EAA is an all encompassing organization and Mac writes for all of us.

      Mike Bills

      • Steve says:

        Mike, my contention is that Mac DOES NOT write for ALL of us as evidenced by his lack of non-certificated airplanes, non-IFR system flying, etc. topics he chooses NOT to write about! If he truly does write for ALL OF US we would not be having this conversation.

        Mac writes about the very same topics he did while working for FLYING magazine years ago. I quit reading that drivel about the ‘value’ in spending $2 million for a jet a long time ago. Now we see in the writings of the Publishing Editor of EAA Sport Pilot magazine about how much ‘value’ there is in a certificated instrument upgrade without even once mentioning the ‘value’ that already exists in the experimental market for even better instruments. And, as has already been mentioned once already, he does this on the very day that one of those glass panel companies that caters to the experimental community releases a new product of GREAT value.

        So where in all of this writing is it evident that Mac writes for ALL OF US? As I stated in my original post, I have not bothered with commenting on Mac’s post for a very long time because I knew before hand what kind of response I would see from him and from others like you who continually pat him on the back for doing such a wonderful job. Earlier Ken said to let Mac know what I would like to see Mac write about. Well, I did that in my original post. I will reiterate it here. For every article you write about flying the Barron or flying in the IFR system or touting some new instruments available for the certificated airplanes all the members of EAA who fly GA aircraft can buy, write an article that deals with flying an experimental ‘whats-it’ or the pleasure to be had in flying on a gorgeous severe clear VFR day or about the ‘value’ to be had in building something with your own hands.

        Now do that and I will change my tune and say Mac does indeed write for ALL OF US!

  4. Harold Bickford says:

    I tend to agree with Steve and Sarah. Seeing some commentary on experimental a/c that reflect a desire for VFR flying at lower cost would be welcome. Yes, I’m biased in that a Pietenpol project is our current endeavor. Even planned follow-on projects will not be enormously more expensive though.
    It is not difficult to appreciate aspects of what is involved in the high end of flying. One course in college thirty years ago was for B-727 flight engineer. Yet the “low and slow” of VFR is what captivates many, including my wife and me.

  5. Kenn Ortmann says:

    Steve, Sarah & David,

    I fly a Cessna 150 and I never plan to build or fly an “experimental” airplane. I am also a member of EAA and have appreciated the “big tent” mentality and how welcomed I have been at Airventure and my local EAA Young Eagle events.

    I, too, am unlikely to install a $20K device in my airplane, but I am still interested in what is happening out in that world because we are all interconnected. Mac flies a Barron and I fly a Cessna 150. We are both pilots, we both care about aviation, and we are part of a very small minority.

    You fly, or are building, experimentals, so you also care about aviation and you are a fellow member of our small minority. In my opinion, taking gratuitous potshots at a fellow aviator does none of us any good.

    Tell Mac what you would like more of, but please do it with respect and perhaps a little humor. If he doesn’t deliver what you want, then read something else and let the rest of us enjoy his musings.

    Thank you for considering my thoughts and suggestions!!

  6. Tom says:

    Just FYI, I fly experiments–in IFR–at night–to get places I need to go. Probably blows your minds, doesn’t it. Not every EAA member cares only about gluing sticks together.

  7. Steve says:

    The point, Tom, Ken & Mac, is there are many publications out there that are specifically catering to the very audience you subscribe to. Mac does specifically write for and is employed by the only organization that was, and still is, founded on the experimental ideal. I can only think of one other magazine publication that is geared to the experimental community besides the EAA Sport Aviation magazine. That other magazine is Kitplanes. I will say I get much more value reading articles in Kitplanes than I do in reading Sport Aviation. And that should not be, considering EAA is the foundation for the very existence of experimental aviation!

    I acknowledge and welcome all aviators flying whatever aircraft you like or own to come visit me in my hangar at any time of your choosing. I will welcome you with open arms. But regardless of what your preferences are for flying interests, I still will contend that the EAA organization needs to keep themselves grounded in the experimental community. That especially goes for the Publishing Editor of the EAA magazine.

    So Mac, Tom & Ken, come visit me in your Baron, your IFR experimental and your 150 anytime. I would love to sit down and hangar fly with all of you. Oh, and by the way Tom, I never did really like glueing sticks together. :)

  8. Cary Alburn says:

    I guess I can understand that some old time EAAers think that EAA is only for the experimental crowd, but in reality, it is a much more encompassing organization. I don’t know what the demographics of EAA is at present, but I’d hazard a guess that there are as many certificated airplane owners in the membership as there are experimental owners. One trip to OSH and spending some time walking among the visiting aircraft and talking with visitors shows that, and many trips to OSH confirms it.

    What I have noticed is that except for the few high rollers who show up in their King Airs, Citations, turbine powered Lancairs, and other such out-of-reach ilk, the vast majority of us all want to get the very best bang for the buck, whether we build our own, or own oldies but goodies in the certificated world. My airplane, for instance, is a 51 year old P172D, which I’ve owned for 10 years, and which I’ve lovingly lavished as much as I can afford on it–and I love it as much as anyone who has built his/her own airplane could love theirs. It’s a good little airplane, and while yes indeedy I fly it IFR on occasion because it’s pretty well equipped for the purpose, I also just enjoy getting up in the air and flitting about, the joie de vivre of being a pilot in my own airplane.

    Does that make me any less of an EAAer? Am I wrong to be a part of an organization which once catered to home builders, although I’m not skilled enough to build, nor interested in building, my own airplane?

    That being said, the new “baby” Aspen is appealing. Right now, I have no immediate need for a new AI, DG, and vacuum pump, but if I did, putting $3000 into replacing all those or $5500 into an Aspen (presuming installation labor is included) which has the potential of never needing to be replaced would be quite a balancing act.

    I will agree that King’s satcom system has little to no appeal for me or most other folk in the lower economic end of personal aviation. Valuable for the King Air, Citation, and turbine Lancair crowd, perhaps, but not something most EAAers would consider appealing.

    So perhaps Mac should orient himself more toward the little people of aviation, but let’s don’t exclude any of our brethren and sisteren, even the high rollers, from EAA. We’re all in a relatively small niche cadre of society, but one that gives us all pleasure in varying ways.


    • Sarah A says:

      I understand that you do fly a certified aircraft and yet do have an interest in the facets of aviation that Sport Aviation is supposed to be representing. That is fine, we welcome all and I hope you enjoy reading more about the form of aviation that I hold so dear, that is taking the time and effort to build my own unique aircraft in a two car garage. With all respect though that does not mean that either of the two magazines that are actually dedicated to that aspect of aviation (supposedly) should provide coverage of topics that relate to you vs. us. There are plenty of magazines that can be pulled off the rack at the news stand that you can go to for reports on the latest over priced certified gadgets for your own aircraft needs. As one other writter brought up, it is outrageous to spend this much space talking about the two avionics components the same week that Dynon unveiled SkyView Touch with V10 software. That is what applies to Sport Aviation, not that dumbed down Aspen or the SATCOM system. It is sounding a lot like what we see on TV these days, when was the last time that TLC (The Learning Channel) actually had something related to Learning on their schedule, certinly Honey-Bo-Bo does not count. And I do not want to open up Sprt Aviation, Print or Blog and find a Honey-Bo-Bo article, I want to see Sport Aviation articles and nothing more. That is why I joined the Experimental Aircraft Association and continue to support it.

  9. William Wynne says:

    To my fellow EAAers with certified planes, here is what you may not understand: The EAA is not a magazine like Flying, It is not an advocacy group like AOPA, and It is a lot more than a trade show called Oshkosh. The EAA is, and should remain, a Membership Association, and its publications department should serve this.

    The EAA is not what goes on at Oshkosh, or is printed in the magazine. It is what goes on with the members, in the 1,000+ active chapters. The rank and file members, not just the ones that were at Oshkosh, all must find value and representation in published material.

    What makes the EAA work, is not the people at HQ, nor the people who just read the magazine. The whole system works on a giant army of volunteers: Chapter officers, young eagle pilots, Tech counselors, flight advisors, news letter editors, and so on. At the risk of offending new arrivals with certified planes, The volunteer jobs that built, and sustained the EAA, long enough for you to ‘discover’ it, are, and have always been, and continue to be done in great disproportion by aviators who define themselves as “Homebuilders” first. The spirit of putting back a bit more than you took is very strong with homebuilders, and they deserve your thanks and proportional representation in the EAA’s publications.

    I have been an EAA member since 1989, I worked for EAA publications for years, had more than 50 articles printed, been president of a large EAA chapter (288), been the guest speaker at 50+ EAA chapters, been to Oshkosh 22 times, and have made 400 house calls as a tech counselor. I have some idea what makes the EAA function. I own both Homebuilt and certified aircraft. I believe that the root of Mac’s disconnect can be traced to this: As Editor of flying, he came to Oshkosh for decades, but was not even a member of the EAA until he needed a new job. (His membership number is over 1,000,000) He long knew about the EAA, but never felt like being part of it. That is why he has a difficult time connecting. It is just his job, it isn’t where his heart is.

    William Wynne EAA 331351

    • Sarah A says:

      Beautifully put, thank you William. These articles should be contributed by True Believers, not Converts of Convenience.

  10. Howard Belsheim says:

    You folks are missing a serious point. Mac has written better and much more thoroughly about aviation topics for more than ten years than all but a few others. His connections and his level-headedness were always apparent when he was a chief editor and his writing has been important in the latest serious improvements in Sport Aviation magazine. More power to him!

    Without certified plane news our magazine would retreat to sparse reports from garages. We need to be kept abreast of all flying news to protect our diminishing larger community. What we can hear on this forum is our usual upset about the lack of a free market/too many old statutes. Sharing this frustration, I can only hope that costs DO come down for avionics for my beloved old airplane.


    • Sarah A says:

      You are soooo missing the point. There are plenty of magazines out there that cover the topics you seem to be more interested in and maybe that is where Mr. McClellen should be writing since his interests clearly do not relate to the core of Sport AViation. The AOPA newsletter that I also subscribe to gave great coverage of these two developments in the certified aircraft world and that is exactly where they belong. Do I demand that AOPA cover topics that are unique to the EAB world, NO ! because that is not what they are about and that street goes both ways. This publication is supposed to be about reports from garages and hangers where we are building or restoring aircraft. It has been contaminated enough with the big bucks warbird community lately and I would hate to see it turned into another dime-a-dozen aviation publication like Flying is. I subscribed to Flying as well as Air Progress in my early days of flying but after a while they became repetative and boring. The real excitment was in Sport Aviation, Homebuilt Aircraft (now defunct) and Kitplanes. I do not want to open up an issue (or an email) and see articles that do not relate to Sport Aviation, just rehashes of what is in all the other aviation rags. We in Sport Aviation try to be open and inclusive but we will not stand for our few publications turned into general interest publications. The glory days of Sport AViation were filled with articles from dusty garages and that is where the publication needs to return. If you do not like that, well like I said there is AOPA with their fine publications not to mention the local news stand.

      • Harold Bickford says:

        Just out of curiosity, Sarah, what are you working on or flying? Seems to me that is where the action is.

        • Sarah A says:


          I am currently building a Pro Composites Personal Cruiser (single seat composite) with a highly modified wing to meet LSA requirements. That is it will meet LSA requirements unless our beloved Congress overrides the FAA on requirements for 3rd class medical. I rarely fly these days due to the LSA requirement (not many good ones for rent) but I was quite active before the medical issue came up several years ago. Before that I had a fairly complete BD-5G project (yes I fell for all the hype back in the 70′s) but without a 3rd class there was not much point in continuing the build. It did find a good home with an FAA DAR in the Houston area and will eventually fly. I have plenty of experience in the certified aircraft world having flown just about all the single engine designes from Piper (a former employeer), Cessna, Beech and American / Grumman not to mention a few twins and helicopters along the way. When I want to indulge my certified airplane side I turn to AOPA, when the desire is Sport Aviation I turn to EAA and I prefer that the two stay that way. Many of us long time EAA folks feel that way (YES NOT ALL). Currently a new issue of Sport Aviation takes me about 5 minutes to go through, 15 if there is actually something worth reading. A new issue of Kitplanes takes a good 2-3 hours and that is where my argument with the direction of the EAA magazine and blogs comes from. The AOPA magazine can be good for an hour depending on that months content, I do not even bother with the aviation rags at the local news stand as they are all about advertiser dollars (like Flying).

          I do not want to start a war with anyone, I just want the real EAA back and with the former head of Cessna (who sent the SkyCatcher to China) I feel I might be fighting a losing battle. I gave up on Oshkosh years ago but always try to make it to Sun-N-Fun. I have my motel reservations for the upcoming event and my bags are half packed.

          • Harold Bickford says:

            Thanks for the very complete response. I do think your Cruiser will fly a bit faster than my Corvair power Piet (when it is finished)! It is all about learn,build,fly.

  11. Tom Davis says:

    Folks, we all need to be careful with this sort of debate.

    I agree with the criticism of the editorial direction of Sport Aviation. Like many of you, I’d like to see the focus return to homebuilding and experimental, and to preserve the publication as a refuge for grassroots aviation. But there’s something bigger at stake: We all know that general aviation is under serious threat from many quarters. Take your pick — cost of fuel, costs of aircraft and equipment, regulations, commercial drones taking over the airspace, decline/aging of the pilot population, etc.

    Rather than drawing lines between us (EAB vs. certificated, VFR vs. IFR, expensive vs. affordable, Mac’s columns vs. whomever’s columns), we need to draw a large circle that encompasses all of us. The “big tent” approach doesn’t need to dilute each of our individual interests. Rather than kick Mac out and replace him with a true homebuilder, let’s keep Mac and his blog, and add a blog that better serves the needs of the experimental community. Let’s not succumb to divisiveness, or we’ll all go down together.

    Let’s get Budd Davisson to write a blog parallel with Mac’s. And as for the AOPA and the turboprop and bizjet communities, many of those folks have built or will build an EAB.

    Find what you can do, and do it. And support others in doing what they do. We need all the help we can get.

  12. Tom says:

    Folks, please don’t forget that experimental doesn’t only mean low-cost or low-tech.

    So Mac wants stick shakers. Okay, fine. Let’s see somebody design, build, and fly an experimental system and share the plans. That would actually be interesting. Or what about an auto-land system or auto-throttles? We have an amazing amount of freedom to do neat, new things in the experimental category, so let’s go for it! Perhaps we’ve forgotten that in our quest to just fly cheap.

    • Sarah A says:

      You are missing the point, Mr McClellan has no interest in Sport Aviation whatsoever, never has and never will. That he was even hired to write for the Experimental Aircraft Association shows how far this organization has deviated from what it is supposed to represent. His interest lie in the heavy iron, twins, turboporps, and jets, not some work of art that a real person spent years putting togather in their garage. Has he ever lown in an EAB aircraft in his life. And we do not need other big name professional writers to balance him out, we need to replace him with someone who takes the name of the magazine, Sport Aviation, to heart. This is not a charity organization for the aviation Good-Old-Boys network, our dollers dedicated to these publications should be directed to true believers who came up from the grass roots of sport aviation.
      As I have said, those interested in the rest can join AOPA (I am a member there as well) or go to the news stand for a copy of Flying. Yes there are plenty of high price, high performance IFR capable EAB aircraft out there and I would love to be hearing about them in this column but forget the $20K satcom systems marketed towards business aircraft. My own project will be IFR capable so I have nothing against adding such capability in EAB aircraft so lets hear more about the avionics systems built for them which does not include Aspen.

    • Harold Bickford says:

      I’m thinking more in terms of an angle of attack indicator for my Piet project. Back in 78 EAA had an article for such in the magazine using a relabeled airspeed indicator. It is doable, just not done a lot.
      The bigger factor in experimental aviation for me is taking the time to learn about the airframe, engine, performance, history and why it all functions as it does. Beyond that is the desire at a future date to design/build from concept to finished product. It is a process that has long held my interest and now can be acted upon.

  13. Arnold Holmes says:

    Like the music industry tells us what to listen to, or the TV industry tells us what to watch……… The editorial board is simply trying to tell us what we like. Bringing in a guy like Mac also eventually brings in people with bigger money than the majority of us homebuilders and this money is needed to keep the machine going. It has come to me through the grapevine that Mac’s salary with the EAA tops over 200,00.00 a year which includes travel budget, this is what your membership dollars are paying for. I myself have been a member since about 1986, have owned several EAB’s and been President of two EAA Chapters (288 and 534) and I now find myself with little reason to continue on with EAA. I don’t find any value in it for me going forward. I don’t believe EAA has any more of a future than being another big company that has little true connection to it’s members.

    • Sarah A says:

      If what you are saying with regards to the compensation provided to Mr. McClellan that that is an absolute outrage. This is a non-profit member organization (or it is supposed to be) so you would think it would be possible to confirm the compensation packages provided to the staff. Considering how little use his postings are to the Sport Aviation community, I would not even accept him as a voluntary contributor let alone a 6 figure salary (and a lot more than I make as an engineer with 35 years of experience). I think you might have the right idea about burning your membership card. The Oshkosh convention long ago stopped being about what the organization was founded on and I see no reason to go there and spend a couple of days being miserable in a tent every year. At least at SNF there are plenty of motels to be had at reasonable rates, not to mention Disney is nearby in case you have a family that does not share your love of aircraft. If it was not for the individual chapters, EAA would probably have no useful purpose at all. The local chapter dues are certainly a better investment than national dues. I have had enough of this discussion, either I am preaching to the choir or I am wasting my time trying to make a valid point to people who do not care.

      • Arnold Holmes says:

        Although I do not have factual information concerning his salary, the information does come from a trusted source who would be in a position to know. Mac represents a certain group of people, I’m fine with that and I really have no issue with his choice of topics, it’s just that those choices are not (I believe) in line with the majority of the membership. I think that the EAA has become too large financially. I think that rank and file membership does not provide enough financial power to keep EAA in the black. You bring in a guy like Mac who has a long standing relationship with a crowd who has a larger financial footprint. You give him marketing freedom to do and say in a large public way those things that interest those with the ability to spend in big ways. I think the idea is to slowly “bring over” the flying and AOPA crowd because in general they have money to spend. That’s not to say that hombuilders don’t spend, I know all too well what it costs to build and operate an aircraft. Mac’s 20K sat phone however is more expensive than my last two projects(varieze and nesmith cougar).

        Additionally, I will admit to having not read in full detail the recent issue of EAA agreeing to pay for the FAA services. The jist of what I am seeing however seems to indicate that EAA will pay for the next 10 years. If this is true, it quickly strikes me as the EAA essentially saying that user fee’s for GA are fine. This I would have real trouble with.

        • Sarah A says:

          When they got the former CEO of Cessna to take over the association that said all I needed to hear. This is no longer a grassroots member organization but a major corporation. They seem obsessed with growing Oshkosh rather then keeping it focused on Sport Aviation. When they started to bring biz jets and other multi-million dollar aircraft into the vender display areas that showed what was important. Then management started the love affair with the warbirds, all owned by very rich well connected people and that was just another clear indication that they had no real interest in keeping it focused on Sport Aviation. As I alluded to in another posting, they are turning EAA into TLC, complete J. Mac as Honey-Bo-Bo. Neither has any place given the name but they draw in dollars and that is all that counts.
          That they would give up the fight and submit to paying the FAA their ransome shows that they are more concerned with keeping the business running smoothly than serving the membership. If they can find an extra million on short notice that just goes to show how much money is flowing through the bank accounts and into the pockets of management. Would they dare put their compensation packages in the open and submit them to a vote of the membership ? The answer is of course no because we would look at how we struggle with our own meger paychecks and we would say “Hell No !!!”.

          • Tom says:

            Ya know, EAA members do get to vote on leadership. If you’re so fired up, why don’t you work to vote the bums out?

          • Sarah A says:

            That is exactly what we need to do. When my last renewal came up (probably my last) I did not sign off on that Proxy statement reserving the right to cast my own vote. Frankly at the moment I am not sure when or how the vote takes place but I have a strong desire to participate now and the current leadership will not be getting my vote. We all need to stop signing the proxy statement and stop letting them vote in anything / anyone that they want. First agenda is to get rid of overpaid writers who do not give a damn about Sport Aviation. EAA has gotten too big in its quest for money and power at the top levels and Oshkosh stinks as bad as DC, they just have a nice airshow to entertain the masses into thinking they are performing a service. At the risk of being branded a sexist man hater, maybe we need women in the leadership, not men. Women build familys, men build empires.

  14. Jeff says:

    That will happen right after we throw the bums out of congress.

  15. Matt says:

    Wow, everyone needs to calm down and stop hating on Mac.

    There’s some serious envy manifesting here. If you can’t afford a piston twin and certified avionics, well that’s cool, but don’t spoil it for others.

    The EAA has a big tent mentality, and their hiring of Mac exemplifies this.

    • Sarah A says:


      No one here hates Mr. McClellan but we are outraged that our organization has squandered its non-profit resources by bringing in an overpriced writer who has no interest in Sport Aviation, the very title of the magazine that he is writing for. This is his forum so if we are wrong let him speak up and convince us otherwise. Maybe we are wrong and he is a closet Sport Aviator, pressured into keep his true allegances hidden to fit into the world of Heavy Iron.

      And no one here hates people that can afford to own and operate a Baron. I would if I could and I do not but into the class warfare B.S of the current administration in DC.
      EAA has always everyone to share in our mutual love of Sport Aviation. What we should not do is change the nature of the organization so we can draw in more dollars to support an overpriced hiearchy that has some how managed to take over the association. Throw the bums out is exactly where we need to start.

      If the FAA demands a ransom to support a fly-in than ignore them and have a good time going there anyways. Is the FAA going to close an airport because too many people are flying there ???

      • Matt says:

        Sarah – I get that Mac is more a GA guy than a hardcore homebuilder, but there really is no need to be ‘outraged’ about that.

        As an EAA member you might want to revisit the organiation’s mission statement here –

        It’s a shame that an inoffensive blog posting about a couple of new avionics products devolves into a rant fest with personal attacks and anti-government diatribes.

  16. Steve says:

    As for all the Mac McClellan lovers and, for that matter, Mac himself, Sarah has clearly shown that there are passionate EAA members who are just as interested in GA activities and topics as you are but still feel it extremely important that the EAA organization as a whole, and its publication and writers specifically, should maintain its focus on what EAA was founded on.

    Some posters, on both sides of this debate, have the erroneous notion that EAA was solely founded on the idea that building our own airplanes should be the only focus of this organization. Although that was, and still is, a primary focus of the EAA organization, it is not its sole position. It also is greatly invested in the concept of advocating for less expense and more freedoms to enjoy the pleasures of building, owning, flying personal aircraft regardless of the size, complexity, performance or certification of the aircraft. As a member I am expecting the EAA organization to continue to fight against frivolous government intrusion into our freedoms of flight. Every member should be supporting this position! Regardless of what type of aircraft they fly or aspire to fly.

    I have stayed away from commenting any further since my last post a few days ago mainly because I have felt Sarah and others were speaking their minds quite well and I could not disagree nor could I add much to what they were stating. However, I feel it important for me to make one last comment before I completely leave this blog thread behind for good since it is apparent Mr. McClellan is not interested in a conversation concerning this topic.

    To Mr McClellan, and all the McClellan supporters out there. My comments, Sarah’s comments or any other’s comments that are ‘calling out’ Mr. McClellan for continually IGNORING the experimental, less expensive, less complicated or just plain more aligned with the general constituency of EAA members aircraft topics, are attempts to make a point and specifically to facilitate some measure of change. The point is NOT that Mr. McClellan should not write about GA topics, IFR flying topics, jet topics, twin flying topics, turboprop topics, certified instrumentation topics, flying in the clag topics, or anything that he can think of that may interest him greatly. The point is he ALSO needs to write to EVERYONE who is reading his articles. He should not just be writing for his own interests nor even just for the interests of the GA flying member. He should be writing articles that ‘encompass’ all of our interests whether he personally is interested in that topic or not! My argument has been that Mr. McClellan not only is NOT writing for everyone but, indeed, he appears to go out of his way to avoid topics that are aligned more with the non-GA flying type member’s interests.

    I think it a dangerous thing to continually only listen to the ‘back patter’s’ and YES men out there that continually tell a person how wonderful he/she is. They are always going to tell a person everything is wonderful, even if it is not. It is just as important to listen to and address the naysayers too. Regardless of who is giving the feedback though, if one continues to ignore addressing concerns of any particular group of readers it will eventually become an insurmountable problem.

    Tom Davis wrote:
    [quote]Rather than drawing lines between us (EAB vs. certificated, VFR vs. IFR, expensive vs. affordable, Mac’s columns vs. whomever’s columns), we need to draw a large circle that encompasses all of us. The “big tent” approach doesn’t need to dilute each of our individual interests.[/quote]

    All you EAA members who only fly GA aircraft need to recognize one important aspect of this discussion that you have all failed so far to acknowledge. The debate is specifically revolving around the fact that Mr McClellan has not in the past, does not currently, nor shows any indication to do so in the future, write to ALL OF US. It becomes clearer after each article that he is NOT at all interested in “encompassing all of us”, and he is indeed, in doing so, “diluting each of our individual interests”! That is why there is so much passion in these posts.

    The choir is preaching to the congregation to listen to the ‘Pastor’ when the pastor is ONLY preaching to the choir! The congregation is needing, wanting and expecting their concerns to be addressed in the sermon, and the congregation is overtly being ignored for the expressed benefit of the choir!

    Even these comments are being ignored by the man the posts are addressed toward. Why is that Mr. McClellan? If you are not interested in a public conversation, by all means, I, and I am sure others, would welcome any private (email) conversation you wish to have. I would even welcome a person to person conversation. I bet your Baron could be at my airport in just a couple of hours flying. Wouldn’t that be something? To have a direct non-confrontational conversation with a member of the organization that pays you to represent them. Short of any response, I could only conclude the reason for not responding would have to reside in the fact that answering directly to a member within a membership organization is not something you signed up for when you accepted this JOB.

    • Sarah A says:

      That was extremely well said summation of what is going on here. As an engineer I tend to not be so eloquent, I go straight to the matter at hand and use few words. As you said this is Mr. McClellan’s forum yet he chooses to say nothing, essentially ignoring the legitimate issues that are being raised by long term dedicated members of the organization that pays him. I noticed that there is an active EAA forum, started back in November and having new postings as recent as last week that has been tackling this same question and it is well worth the time to read. It underscores that we are not alone by any measure but we are being ignored by the EAA management. This is a membership organization and it is not lost on me that it is members volunteering their time that has made EAA the great organization that it is. With the growing trend to turn Oshkosh into a wholly commercialized affair how much longer will that membership feel that their donated time is really appreciated ? If they spend days/weeks/months providing free labor for an organization being run by highly paid, unresponsive professional managers will they not start to realize they are being exploited for the financial gain of others ? I think EAA and the Oshkosh “Fly-In” are going to do a Humpty Dumpty if this situation does not change.

  17. Matt says:

    Interesting that Sarah thinks Steve’s post is ‘eloquent’ – I’d describe it more as a flatulent, long winded rant full of biases and preconceptions.

    The idea that Mac should respond to these sort of posts is laughable. He was hired by the EAA on his merits as a leading aviation writer – yes, he is more of the GA world but he doesn’t try to hide that and clearly maintains a significant following regardless.

    It amuses me that this blog runs hot with commenters who are allegedly so ‘outraged’ with Mac, and yet why are they following it in the first place? If you’re not into it, don’t read it.

    I’m an EAA member who is more from a GA background, and I’m unapologetic about that. Those of you who seem to want a litmus test of EAA purity are guilty of a tribe mentality, which frankly gets you nowhere.

    Oh, and by the way, I’m no ‘yes man’. I’ve never met Mac and have no incentive to defend him for the sake of it.

    I enjoy his writing, and I’m just reminding you that we’re a diverse bunch in the EAA.

    • Arnold Holmes says:


      I would be an unfair critic if I did not at least read what Mac has written. That does not mean I like it, it just means that I am trying to be as fair about my reaction as I can be.

  18. Steve says:

    Matt, Mr. McClellan, and everyone else reading this,

    All of this diatribe concerning Mr. McClellan’s writing just became mute after yesterday’s announcement concerning the EAA caving into the Federal government’s demands for user fees for ATC at OSHKOSH. Nothing at all compares to the utter disappointment I have in allowing myself to be a willing member of an organization who professes to be a voice for its members then absolutely ignores the membership when such a vitally important decision such as this has to be made. When our leaders cave into pressure for fear of losing all mighty dollars at their precious air show then I know it is time for me to depart. EAA – you no longer represent me! You represent the dollar makers, you represent the executive elite at the top of your hierarchy but you DO NOT represent us little guys any longer!

    And Matt, that is the reason for my ‘flatulent’ posts! Mr. McClellan has made decisions concerning the EAA publications that move those publications away from advocacy and more toward big business. Now we see that Mr Pelton and the executive leadership of EAA has decided among themselves that making this unilateral decision is best for the money making machine of Oshkosh. They did not nor desire to have input from their membership. They unilaterally decided this decision is better for the organization, better for the members and better for aviation as a whole because they cannot afford to NOT HAVE Oshkosh bring them in their millions. They have sold their soles for their respective monetary gains.

    So Matt and the EAA –

  19. Steve says:

    Well, it appears this blog site does not allow hyperlinks.
    The last most poignant statement I made above was omitted. Here it is:

  20. Roy Miller says:

    EAA has a big broad membership that fly a broad range of planes. I fly both certified and experimental, IFR and VFR, usual and unusual attitudes, one or two wings, round and flat engines. I have friends with everything from Rotax power and a whiskey compass to a Walters turbine and lots of glass in their experimental. All EAA members of course. The experimental built in the greatest numbers the past few years, the RV of course, is frequently IFR capable. The type of planes being built today are by and large more capable and complex machines than in years past. To stay relevant the EAA must cover the issues related to these aircraft. Just because a topic does not interest you, or your friends for that matter, does not mean it is not of interest to many other EAA’ers.
    In my view EAA is the better for and Flying mag the worse for Mac’s move. If you don’t like his articles, there are lots of other authors contributing.

    • Mike Bills says:

      Well said. If all of the readers that liked what Mac wrote about left EAA, where would the organization be. Even though Mac may not be inline with the EAA hard liners he still contributes to the overall EAA population. I own a certified aircraftbut still have a keen interest in amateur built aircraft and someday may actually find time to take on a home built project. The vindictiveness and nasty comments about Mac are totally unecessary and do not make the EAA better. If you don’t want to read about the subjects that Mac writes about don’t read his column. As Roy said “In my view EAA is the better for and Flying mag the worse for Mac’s move. If you don’t like his articles, there are lots of other authors contributing”.

  21. Thanks for finally writing about > %blog_title% < Loved it!|

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