Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fly-In With A Purpose

Started as a small aircraft-parts store in Fullerton, Calif., Aircraft Spruce now thrives in three locations

It was called the Aircraft Spruce Annual West Coast Super Sale and Fly-In, and it was definitely a different kind of marketing event. Jim Irwin, CEO of Aircraft Spruce and Specialty, has always had a flair for the unusual and, he reasoned, why not have an end-of-season, corporate-sponsored Southern California fly-in dedicated specifically to the world's largest market of general aviation pilots?

This isn't the first get-together at the company's Corona, Calif., headquarters. Irwin has been sponsoring regional fly-ins for several years, erecting a large circus-style tent right outside the main entrance and inviting a variety of vendors and exhibitors to display their products under the canopy.

This year, there were displays by Garmin, Concorde Batteries, Lightspeed, Scheyden, Dynon, Sennheiser, Tempest Aviation, Bose, Mid-Continent Instruments, Gill Electric, Skytronics, Pilot USA and a number of others. The atmosphere was reminiscent of a mini Oshkosh, with seminars on avionics and safety, and opportunities for hands-on experience with aviation products.

Just to keep things interesting, Irwin arranged hourly raffle drawings for items such as Sennheiser and Lightspeed headsets, Dynon portable PFDs and other pilot goodies. All proceeds were donated to the EAA's Young Eagle program.

In conjunction with the fly-in, Aircraft Spruce also offered a variety of specials on products for pilots, including marked-down prices and discounts. The company ran regular shuttles back and forth to nearby Corona Airport, a half-mile north, to accommodate fly-in traffic. The shuttle service wasn't a once-a-year feature. Aircraft Spruce offers the same service on weekends all year round.

In fact, the company has its roots in the Los Angeles area. The original Aircraft Spruce was started by Irwin's parents, Bob and Flo Irwin, in the mid-'50s as Fullerton Air Parts, directly across the street from Fullerton Airport in the Los Angeles area. The only initial product was homebuilt aircraft materials, primarily high-quality wood, but eventually, the Irwins expanded, moved to larger facilities in Fullerton and renamed the company Aircraft Spruce And Specialty. The Irwins' eldest son, Jim, took over the company and became president in 1980.


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