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When we polled read­ers on so­cial me­dia about which of five nom­i­nees they thought should win this year’s Fly­ing In­no­va­tion Award, the re­sponse was nearly unan­i­mous. In fact, not only did our au­di­ence pre­dict we would be­stow this year’s award on Cir­rus for the SF50 Vi­sion Jet, read­ers told us we’d be crazy if we gave it to any­one else.

So much for feigned sus­pense. Con­grat­u­la­tions, Cir­rus, for tak­ing home the In­no­va­tion Award tro­phy in late July. We an­nounced the selec­tion at the an­nual Fly­ing party at Oshkosh, where it must have seemed like a bit of a fait

ac­com­pli even to those who were there. The prize is but one in a long list of ac­co­lades for the lit­tle jet that could, and I was per­son­ally hon­ored to be able to heap more praise on an air­plane that truly de­fines in­no­va­tion in avi­a­tion.

The com­pe­ti­tion the Vi­sion Jet faced in­cluded sev­eral other note­wor­thy prod­ucts, each of them hand­picked from our an­nual list of Fly­ing Edi­tors’ Choice Award win­ners. The list in­cluded Garmin’s G1000 NXi avion­ics sys­tem, the Mooney Ova­tion Ul­tra, ForeF­light’s Scout por­ta­ble ADS-B re­ceiver and the Light­speed Zulu 3 head­set. In any other year, another of these prod­ucts might have nabbed the In­no­va­tion Award tro­phy, but in a com­pe­ti­tion against the world’s first sin­gle-en­gine per­sonal jet (and the first jet with a parachute), it was an ob­vi­ous choice for the ed­i­to­rial team at Fly­ing.

We’d also be re­miss if we sud­denly snubbed the Vi­sion Jet con­sid­er­ing all the other ac­co­lades it has re­ceived since it en­tered the mar­ket, in­clud­ing the 2018 Col­lier Tro­phy. First awarded in 1911, the Col­lier prize is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered to be the most pres­ti­gious in avi­a­tion. Our mis­sion with the Fly­ing In­no­va­tion Award is some­what sim­i­lar to that of the Col­lier selec­tion com­mit­tee’s, but where the Col­lier Tro­phy is be­stowed on “the great­est achieve­ment in aero­nau­tics or as­tro­nau­tics in Amer­ica” dur­ing the pre­vi­ous year, the Fly­ing In­no­va­tion Award is si­mul­ta­ne­ously broader and nar­rower in scope in that it rec­og­nizes the top achieve­ment in all of gen­eral and busi­ness avi­a­tion across the en­tire globe.

The first two In­no­va­tion Awards have been home runs, with the Vi­sion Jet and last year’s in­au­gu­ral win­ner, the Hon­daJet. Next year’s com­pe­ti­tion will be a true dog­fight, with sev­eral new air­planes and avi­a­tion prod­ucts al­ready emerg­ing as strong con­tenders. We’re ex­cited to em­bark on the selec­tion process.

Who knows, maybe some­day we’ll be hand­ing over the In­no­va­tion Award tro­phy to rep­re­sen­ta­tives from As­ton Martin, Rolls-Royce or Uber for some fu­tur­is­tic VTOL fly­ing car. In the here and now, we’re con­tent to choose from a read­ily ex­pand­ing pool of fas­ci­nat­ing avi­a­tion prod­ucts de­vel­oped for a mar­ket that is at the fore­front of tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion.

Who will take home the 2019 In­no­va­tion Award? Tune in next year to find out.


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