Airstream Debuts the Air Lab
Part of its future-facing commitment, Airstream recently launched the AIR (Airstream Innovation and Research) Lab, an expanded research & development center at its manufacturing plant in Jackson Center, Ohio.
“Airstream has been committed to being on the cutting edge since Wally Byam realized that the curves, aluminum and rivets used in making the sleekest aircraft were the answer to building an aerodynamic, durable travel trailer,” says Airstream President and CEO Bob Wheeler. “We are humble stewards of that tradition.”
The 22,000-square-foot facility doubles the previous space used for testing and development, and includes numerous work bays. The R&D staff has also grown to triple its previous level. That team includes engineers, designers and former production workers with deep knowledge of the product. But this group is just the tip of the innovation spear at Airstream.
Customers play a key role on the Airstream innovation team. The company has a strong bond with owners of its products, and they, too, are encouraged to offer feedback and suggestions based on their widely varied travel experiences. Indeed, the company often prioritizes its efforts based on owner input, designing to the customer experience and focusing on how to improve it.
“We think of talking to our customers as a vital part of the R&D process,” says Wheeler.
Airstream associates are also empowered by the company’s culture to offer ideas and insight to improve both the product and the business.
“Everyone is encouraged to contribute ideas,” says Vice President of Product Development and Engineering McKay Featherstone. “We have a lot of passionate people here. Folks who work the production line will say, ‘Hey, give us a new concept for window closeout. It’s got to be beautiful, lightweight, and functional.’ But those people are also going to play around and come up with something on their own. They innovate.”
When we hear the term “iconic,” we tend to think of an unchanging classic. But as Airstream understands, in our modern world it’s one thing to become iconic, and quite another to remain so. The latter requires hard work, connection and a commitment to innovation. Airstream has these things; it was born that way.
Vintage Airstream Club Hits 25
The Vintage Airstream Club is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a series of events leading into the WBCCI International at Salem.
First, a nationally numbered vintage Caravan starts in Wally’s birth town of Baker City. One key way stop is at the Bend Classic Vintage Airstream Rally (June 17–20). Then the VAC has a rendezvous at Heritage Powerland Park in Brooks, OR. Then there’s a police-escorted vintage parade to the International with an open house and concours June 23.
Joining the events is the recently rescued 1936 Masonite-sided Silvercloud towed by a 1937 Chrysler Airflow. Restored by Chuck and Toni Miltenberger, this will be one of the few venues that Airstreamers get to see this historic trailer. The earliest known Curtis Wright (a 1946 Model 1, Wally’s first postwar effort) owned by Dal and Jane Smilie will also debut.
All vintage Airstreams, Argosies, Byam Holidays and Curtis Wright trailers are invited to join the caravan. Any WBCCI members on the way to Salem, especially those who have brought their instruments are invited to join the gathering in Bend.
See more details at http://vintageairstreamclub.com/events/
Airstream Off-the Grid Inspiration
Airstreams have been the inspiration for many fanciful things, and this trailer from Hofmann Architecture takes that inspiration to new levels. Hofmann, which specialized in custom Airstream renovations, put on their aluminum thinking caps to come with this mod-looking “Living Vehicle” designed for extended off-the-grid stays.
There’s more info and more intriguing photos of the Living Vehicle here.