The Collier Trophy presentation to Cirrus for the Vision Jet is a wise choice, as the Vision Jet is changing general aviation and bringing personal jets to a new audience. But the Collier Trophy committee and Cirrus fail to mention the true inventor and force behind that aircraft, company co-founder Alan Klapmeier.
I remember meeting with Alan to understand his logic in building the lowest and slowest personal jet, and coming away with an understanding of how he planned to upgrade SR-22 customers to the Vision Jet and create the stepping stones to pilot and market growth.
Unfortunately, the Klapmeier brothers, Alan and Dale, who co-founded Cirrus had a falling out, with Alan being forced out of the company. Alan was the CEO and visionary, and Dale the engineer.
Alan now heads OneAviation, which builds the Eclipse and is developing the Kestrel turboprop. But since that falling out, it is like Alan is Lord Voldemort at Cirrus – he whose name must not be spoken. It is like Alan has been erased at Cirrus.
The Bottom Line
For those of us who know the program’s history, Alan’s name should be on the Collier Trophy along with Cirrus, because without Alan and his forward thinking, there would be no Vision Jet.