Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Light-Sport Chronicles: Profiles In Vision: Ivo Boscarol

Routinely setting your goals way too high has its benefits

Boscarol flew the trike secretively between dusk and darkness. The name Pipistrel comes from the Italian pipistrellus, for bat, which is what the locals thought it looked like. Before long, he became known as the trike-upgrade go-to guy. Not long after that, he designed his own trike, and began producing them under the Pipistrel banner.

More than 1,000 aircraft later, with five models in full production and two more designs in the pipes, Ivo Boscarol is a man with a clear vision for his company. "My philosophy is simple: Set the goals too high, or you are dead.

"I have very good engineers, but the concept of all our aircraft and the strategy of how to run the company is mine," Boscarol continues. "I have to be enough of a visionary to see what's possible for us to sell. Normally, when I present a concept, the feedback from my development team is, 'What? That's not possible!' After one or two weeks, they say, 'We were thinking, maybe we can do this, or tweak that,' and finally they say, 'Yes: We can do it.'"

The winning G4 story is a perfect case study. "We decided," he says, doing his best to convey what he doesn't quite have the English for, "to build it the way your spouse does on Sunday when making the best possible lunch from what's in the refrigerator."

"Oh, you mean a kind of 'leftovers' airplane," I say.

"Something like this, yes," Boscarol says with a devilish smile. "It allowed us to meet the CAFE challenge parameters, be affordable and give us a good chance to win."

Boscarol's overarching philosophy has been to make Pipistrel a great place to work. "Profit and high salaries are not the most important point," he says in his deep, commanding voice. "We like to set our goals very, very high. And we like to be successful. Being successful is more important than money in this company. We have never taken one single Euro of profit out of Pipistrel. All the profits go into future development."

So, here I am near the top of that telephone pole a day later, with the entire staff on a company-funded team-building recreational weekend in eastern Slovenia, face-to-foot with my own too-high goal. The pole gyrates rhythmically, everybody's watching, I don't think I can do it, but I can't back down...Rand is making a video down below! I summon all my left leg has, and will myself to stand. To my surprise, the creaky old knee comes through and I'm standing on that nine-inch-diameter circle, hands out wide for balance, relieved and enjoying the cheers. I leap into space and my teammates safely belay me back to good old Slovenian dirt.

A trivial pole climb for a gimpy editor is nowhere near as profound as creating a successful, safe airplane out of an idea. But as Ivo Boscarol showed me, and is demonstrating to the world of light aircraft with each new design, this notion of setting your goal too high can end up feeling mighty good. Mighty good indeed.


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