Dale Klapmeier is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cirrus Aircraft, responsible for active oversight of the company. In 1984, Dale, along with his brother Alan, founded Cirrus in a barn on their parents’ rural farmland near Baraboo, Wisconsin. Their first design was the VK-30 homebuilt aircraft, which they introduced at the 1987 EAA Convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. From the brothers’ experience building and marketing the VK-30, they decided that safety and ease-of-operation would be at the forefront of all their future designs, and Dale had the goal of working to create a certified aircraft that his wife would feel comfortable flying in. Since then, Cirrus has revolutionized the general aviation industry with the use of composite materials, fully intergraded glass-panel cockpits, and whole-airframe ballistic parachute systems, a standard device on Cirrus aircraft that has saved nearly 150 lives to date.
Under the leadership of Dale and his team, Cirrus has been the largest producer of piston aircraft since 2013, delivering over 6,800 SR-series aircraft in 18 years of production. Today the SR22 remains the world’s best-selling GA airplane for the 15th year running. In 2016, Dale’s team completed the certification process for the first single-engine personal jet: the Vision SF50. With close to 600 orders from around the world, Cirrus is changing personal transportation once again. Dale has helped the company continue to expand beyond their Duluth, MN and Grand Forks, ND facilities, opening a new customer delivery center in Knoxville, TN.
In addition to numerous aviation industry and entrepreneurial awards, Dale and Alan were formally inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2014 and were ranked the 17th most influential figures in aviation history by Flying Magazine. In 2015, Dale became enshrined in the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame. Passionate about expanding all forms of aviation learning, Dale has served on several boards and programs throughout his career, including EAA’s Young Eagles Program–Gathering of Eagles, the Red Tail Project, the founding board of the Scott D. Anderson Leadership Foundation, and NASA’s Aeronautics Research & Technology Roundtable, Chairing its GA subcommittee. He is currently the founding Chairman of the STEM organization AirSpace Minnesota. Dale holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and has been flying since the age of 15, accumulating about 6,000 hours of flight time in his career.