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CELEBRATING30 YEARS: 1984 - 2014
The Aero Club of Metropolitan Atlanta was founded in 1984 by Lockheed Aircraft Company executives and local business people to serve the aviation community.
Alan Klapmeier is CEO of One Aviation. In 2010, he co-founded Kestrel Aircraft. Kestrel is designing, developing and bringing to market an all-composite, single engine turbo prop aircraft. This first design (the K350) will accommodate 6-8 passengers, travel at very high speeds, yet land and takeoff from unimproved runways and grass fields.
In 2015, Alan merged Kestrel Aircraft with Eclipse Aerospace to form One Aviation Corporation, which will continue to produce the Eclipse 550 twin-engine jet, and complete certification of the Kestrel K-350 turbo-prop. Alan is CEO of One Aviation, which currently has offices and facilities in Albuquerque, NM, Chicago, IL, Superior, WI and Brunswick, MA.
Alan Klapmeier was born October 6, 1958 in DeKalb, Illinois, the second son of Larry and Carol Klapmeier. His passion for aviation began earlier than most. As a way to calm young Alan, Carol would take him to the local airport, where he would spend hours watching aircraft come and go. As he grew, he built model airplanes, read airplane literature, watched airplane movies, and dreamt airplane dreams. Even his route home from school included the airport just to see what was new, and talk with the pilots.
As a junior in high school, Alan joined the Civil Air Patrol, where flying lessons were economical. Soon after graduating in 1976, he became a licensed pilot. A few years later he bought his first aircraft - a 1947 Cessna 140.
In 1979, while attending Ripon College, Alan discovered a wrecked 1960 Champion 7-GC. Alan conscripted his college roomate, Jeff Viken and Alan’s brother Dale. They began what appeared to be a quick re-build. The project, which Alan thought would take a few weeks, ended up taking two and a half years.
In 1980, Alan graduated Ripon college with degrees in Physics and Economics. While attending the EAA Fly-In at Oshkosh that year, Alan decided he wanted to build a Glasair kit aircraft. He needed help to fund the project, so Alan approached his parents for a loan. In response, they required him to write a business plan explaining how the Glasair project was necessary for his future. Alan submitted an acceptable plan, and again conscripting his brother, proceeded to build the two-place composite taildragger in the family barn. The Glasair flew in 1984.
Dreams and discussions of aircraft design and business continued. Alan decided to form Cirrus Design Corporation, together with his college roommate, Jeff Viken, and Jeff’s wife Sally. (Both aeronautical engineers). Later, Alan’s brother Dale joined the firm.
Their first project was to give life to Alan’s 1979 design, the VK-30. This was a five-seat, composite piston-pusher prop aircraft with conventional wings and tail. This design became the first kit aircraft featured on the cover of Aviation Week and Space Technology. The VK-30 made its first flight in early 1988, with aircraft kits hiting the market in 1989.
With their sights set on FAA certification, Cirrus left Wisconsin in 1993 for a new 30,000 square foot facility in Duluth, Minnesota. There the team focused on a radically different design known as the SR20 – one intended to redefine aircraft comfort, safety, ease of operation and performance. Building the team that achieved FAA certification was challenging, but raising funds to finance that team was a world class education in persistance. Alan’s perseverance won and the Cirrus SR20 was certified in October 1998.
In 1999, when the first production SR20 rolled out of its then 111,000 square foot factory. Cirrus was now going to go head-to-head with the likes of Cessna, and many in the industry said the company didn’t stand a chance. However, the Cirrus SR20, and the higher performance SR22 models that followed, revolutionized the small aircraft industry and quickly won market share in the double digits. Transformative technology included use of composite materials and the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (or CAPS). The first FAA certified aircraft to incorporate this innovation, CAPS has gone on to save over 105 lives thus far.
In 2003 Cirrus introduced the first full glass cockpit Primary Flight Display (PFD) to be offered as standard equipment in general aviation aircraft. Within three years all the major general aviation companies were following suit.
Unlike other aircraft companies, which were content to make small, incremental changes, Cirrus sought to redefine aviation innovation. Cirrus introduced larger, more sweeping and revolutionary improvements. Case in point - in 2006, the new Cirrus SR22 featured some 700 changes from the prior model.
As some discovered, and Cirrus expected, their attractive, innovative high-performance products appealed to more than just experienced pilots seeking to fly more sophisticated planes. Many non-pilots purchased Cirrus aircraft and learned to fly in them. Not surprisingly, Cirrus Design has become the world leader in its class of small aircraft. To date, over 6000 Cirrus aircraft have been delivered (5000 of which were delivered during the 10 years of Alan’s leadership).
With the SR line of aircraft having moved into the best selling single engine aircraft of its class, and production running at approximately 700 aircraft per year, Alan moved out of daily operations at Cirrus to personally lead the design and development of Cirrus’ entry level, single engine jet aircraft – the SF50 Vision Jet.
Alan left Cirrus in 2009. In 2010 the company entered an agreement to be purchased by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA). CAIGA is a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation, wholly owned by the Government of China.
About the Atlanta Aero Club
The Atlanta Aero Club is dedicated to providing a forum for matters affecting aviation in the Atlanta area, both commercial and general; recognizing and awarding those making the greatest contribution to furthering aviation in the Atlanta area; communicating and disseminating information affecting aviation; and promoting all aviation and recognizing its importance to the metropolitan area and to the State of Georgia.
Please take a few moments to browse the site and see what the Aero Club has to offer. If you would like to attend one of our great events, keep an eye out to the right in the Upcoming Events section for information.
Individual Memberships are only $55 a year. Business memberships are $250 per year and allow up to 10 named individuals. Support the Atlanta Aviation Industry by joining or renewing now!
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