View Point - XXX Marks The Spot
Category: World Aircraft Sales Magazine Columnists
Author: Gil Wolin
On July 27, athletes from 204 countries will gather at the opening ceremony of London’s Summer Olympics – officially, the Games of the XXX Olympiad. During the ensuing 17 days, more than eight million tickets will be sold, and 906 medals awarded to participants in 302 events across 32 sports – including, for the first time, women’s boxing.
For business jet operators, that means flights to the various London area airports will increase by more than 3,000 during this international quadrennial event, according to UK Civil Aviation estimates.
That’s an average of 176 incremental arrivals, and 176 departures each day. I remember working an FBO ramp with that kind of volume during the Indianapolis 500. Massive planning and logistics are required to marshal each aircraft, deplane its VIP passengers proximate to the executive terminal and then park the aircraft appropriately based upon its scheduled departure. But to do that daily for 17 consecutive days – not to mention nurturing very special relationships with ground transport and catering companies – Whew!
Those planning to fly into any London area airport during the Games had best have slots already reserved. No IFR arrivals or departures will be allowed into or out of London’s terminal maneuvering areas, some 40 airports covering most of southeast England’s controlled airspace, without a slot.
London City is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of the Olympic spike, as they are adjacent to the primary venues. Biggin Hill, Farnborough, Luton, Oxford, Southend and Stansted, though a bit further out from the stadia, also will do well. While the passengers will be at the Olympics to watch world-class athletic performances, those of us in Business Aviation will be far more concerned with aircraft performance. Nothing dampens VIP spectators’ celebratory moods over victory – or deepens their gloom over losses – than to find their jet AOG for the flight home.
So the major airframe and engines maintenance organizations have made special preparations to support transient aircraft during the Summer Games. GE will have dedicated field service representation on site at Luton, ready to address engine issues. Eurojet at Birmingham has a new hangar facility, home to an authorized Cessna Citation service center. And JSSI, the hourly cost maintenance service provider, will have personnel at strategic locations to provide AOG technical support at all London area airports.
These maintenance companies – and the tens of thousands of other behind-the-scenes personnel – will be working together to help bizav users get to and from the 2012 Summer Games easily, safely and efficiently. Teamwork – as well as individual preparation– is behind every champion athlete and every safe flight. Working together underscores the primary purpose of the Olympics: to showcase not only individual achievement, but to foster understanding and cooperation among nations - and sometimes much more, as we saw during the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. There, certain champions – rather than nations – made statements with their actions as well as their performances.
That same year found me a high school senior on the Millburn, NJ track team. Our coach was
But he was a father, too, and often served in loco parentis to team members. My own dad traveled extensively throughout his long career in aviation, and saw me run only once. But he loved track, and appreciated the role that Boomer unwittingly filled during those Wonder Years. Every March 1st since graduation, I’d call Boomer to mark the first day of track season. And I would thank him, for helping me learn discipline, how to pursue excellence as an individual and as a team member, and how to win – and lose – gracefully.
Even after many years he remembered each team, each athlete, each meet. Then we’d talk about the here and now. He was fascinated with my chosen career in aviation, and our conversations ranged far and wide, well beyond the past and mere athletics. I was not alone – many former Millburn tracksters stayed connected with Boomer, from as far back as his first years there in the mid-1950s.
When I made my annual call this year, I got a disconnect message. I reached out to his son, only to find that Boomer was seriously ill. To the great sorrow of all who knew him, Paul passed away last month. I will miss our conversations, his perspective – and his sometimes-not-so-gentle reminders of what is really important in life.
Those of us in bizav – as well as Olympic athletes – can take a few lessons from Coach Paul Beck. No matter how hard you work, never make the mistake of thinking that the safe flight, the stellar performance, the track meet win, is a sole venture. You might be the star, but it’s the team behind you – whether flight crew, maintenance technician, or logistics planner – who supports your own pursuit of excellence.
Gil Wolin draws on almost forty years of aviation marketing and management experience as a consultant to the corporate aviation industry. His aviation career incorporates aircraft management, charter and FBO management experience (with TAG Aviation among others), and he is a frequent speaker at aviation, travel and service seminars. Gil is a past director of the RMBTA and NATA, and currently serves on the Advisory Board for Corporate Angel Network and GE Capital Solutions-Corporate Aviation. Gil can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org