I recently had the pleasure of attending one of Wisconsin’s – and the world’s – great events: The Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual AirVenture “fly-in” at Wittman Field in Oshkosh. This year, for the second year, AirVenture included a program – AeroInnovate – that let innovative aerospace-related firms from around the world showcase development-stage technologies to their peers and the broader business and investment communities. Technologies ranged from the more down-to-earth (for example under-the-fuselage stowage systems for small aircraft to carry motorcycles) to the far out (next generation rocket propulsion technologies).
As a resident of Wisconsin, what was most exciting about AeroInnovate was the range and concentration of aerospace technologies and infrastructure that is already here in Wisconsin and the Midwest. Beyond the presenting companies, firms like Plexus and many other advanced manufacturing companies in Wisconsin are already players in the aerospace market. Add to that the world-wide recognition of EAA (and with it Oshkosh) as a first class aviation destination, and throw in a very-underutilized airfield (Wittman) that would probably cost a billion dollars to recreate, and it seems to me Northeast Wisconsin’s “Paper Valley” has all the right stuff to emerge as “Aerospace Valley” in the not-too-distant future. For more information, checkout www.aeroinnovate.org.