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Taking in the extravaganza of flying at the world’s largest aviation event brings opportunities to witness virtually every application known for aeronautical conveyances. The visitor can see- and touch flying hardware that sits at the extremes of the scale as well as samplings from every level in between. Turn one way- for example- and at hand in front of you fly some of the world’s smallest and lightest flying machines- single- ...

Dave Higdon   |   1st September 2009
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Dave Higdon Dave Higdon

Dave Higdon writes about aviation from his base in Wichita Kansas. During three decades in...
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Leading by example at the biggest show in aviation

Taking in the extravaganza of flying at the world’s largest aviation event brings opportunities to witness virtually every application known for aeronautical conveyances. The visitor can see- and touch flying hardware that sits at the extremes of the scale as well as samplings from every level in between.

Turn one way- for example- and at hand in front of you fly some of the world’s smallest and lightest flying machines- single- and two-seat machines of a few hundred pounds with little more purpose than to give the user access to the sky – simply because.

Turn around and you may bump into the towering tires of one of the world’s largest aircraft- an Airbus A380 that blots out the sun on AeroShell Square- casting a giant shadow on the main ramp that places into the shade seven much-smaller machines – machines that exist to serve the business needs of their owners.

The EAA AirVenture fly-in and convention each year attracts the full spectrum of activities including exhibits and examples from several business aircraft makers - business turboprops and light jets popular with the owner/pilot corporate user - and seven business-turbine machines assembled for Business Aviation Day at AirVenture- a time in the spotlight created to highlight the importance of aviation to America’s business health and success.

Five jets- two propjets - and seven stories. Hosted by EAA president and chairman Tom Poberezny- GAMA president Pete Bunce- Gulfstream president Joe Lombardo and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt- the event typified the message of the “No Plane. No Gain.” campaign jointly supported by GAMA and NBAA- to which all the attending operators belong.

To the overall Oshkosh audience the focus served as a reminder of the role aviation plays in the overall economic health of the nation.

‘No Plane. No Gain’ Oshkosh Style
The companies were as diverse in their fields of commerce as their planes were in the field of business aviation. But they all shared a common thread: the companies chose to use the aircraft because they benefit the operations and thus the overall bottom line of each operator.

The casual observer may not see a lot in common – except that they all fly. The knowledgeable observer also picked up on each company’s individual belief in- and membership in- the NBAA- which boasted its own presence along the AirVenture flightline.

But on Business Aviation Day at AirVenture- the messengers were the companies themselves – the proof- the aircraft they chose to display at a time when some companies are shying away from any publicity involving their corporate aircraft.

Dynomax Incorporated- for example- employs its Learjet 40XR to move people and materials in its business of designing and manufacturing custom machine spindles for industry.

LaBov & Beyond- a full-service communications and marketing agency that works with clients in a variety of industries that use sales channels – dealers- distributors and representatives – to move its products. LaBov utilizes its Cessna CJ1 to move its people to where clients can see the materials the company develops and uses the aircraft to move its people to see clients’ businesses and operations in order to develop a better product.

Orion Energy Systems specializes in energy-efficient lighting solutions that promise a 50-percent drop in electricity used to light plants- offices and warehouses – and the company does so while employing green technologies that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Orion employs its Pilatus PC-12 so that its engineers- designers and installers can flow between factory and client locations as the process of designing- creating- and installing its systems progresses.

ProJet Aviation is a Virginia-based aircraft management- aviation consulting and charter service firm with operations based across the country. ProJet also operates its own Piaggio P-180 propjet to support its business and its customers- allowing the company to move people such as pilots and maintenance technicians where and when needed to keep its clients’ airplanes moving and earning their keep.

Klein Tools is a name familiar to many an aircraft maintenance shop and technician- thanks to the company’s healthy involvement in the aviation community and its support of shows like AirVenture and the aerobatic performers who fly there.

Klein operates its Falcon 50 from near its Schaumberg- Illinois- headquarters to support its factory and distributor operations around the world- allowing the company to also move sales and marketing staff to trade shows and to large customers- when and where needed.

NetJets pioneered the fractional-ownership avenue of owning a business jet almost 25 years ago- and today the company and its European arm boast the largest fractional fleet in the world. The Gulfstream G200 that NetJets parked on AeroShell Square is exemplary of the aircraft its members opt to share- a variety that ranges from light jets to the largest in the aviation inventory.

Among the most interesting companies present for Business Aviation Day at AirVenture was Roush Industries. A company built on speed- CEO and founder Jack Roush brought the company Beechcraft Premier IA to AirVenture to highlight its contribution to the company’s fast-moving enterprises.

Roush- a legend in racing and high-power autos- uses the Premier to stay connected between the company’s Detroit headquarters and its 50 locations across the nation. Roush also uses the hard-working Premier to help staff manage 10 NASCAR race teams. Roush said that during 30 months of use his company had logged 1-100 hours on the light jet.

Roush’s message was a familiar one: “My business could not have grown as it has over the past 20 years” without the airplane- and he claimed the jet helped Roush Industries post annual revenue gains to take the company from $50 million to $500 million.

In the press briefing that preceded the individual presentations GAMA president Pete Bunce emphasized that aviation works for business – that it’s not a luxury item. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt- a former flight instructor- airline pilot and active private pilot- reinforced the message about business aviation’s important role in American commerce.

The message imparted by these speakers and- particularly- by the participating companies - plus the presence of their aircraft at AirVenture - collectively served to drive home the point that for businesses as well as individuals- ‘no plane- no gain’.

Humanitarian Missions
AirVenture 2009 served to highlight other important contributions of private aircraft- corporate and otherwise. A pavilion housed a variety of organizations that provide humanitarian and life-saving services under a collective banner- “Fly4Life.”

Throughout the week the Fly4Life area helped spread the word of the selfless contributions of aviators and aviation – in providing free flights to patients- such as Angel Flight and Corporate Angel Network; in the missionary work of the JAARS- originally the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service- or Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF); and a host of other worthwhile applications of business and personal aircraft.

Elsewhere- while AirVenture started winding down- a private aircraft landing a half a world away in North Korea was playing a role in the dramatic and surprising release of two American journalists imprisoned by Pyongyang- North Korea.

President Bill Clinton and his team made their way to the North Korean capital on board a Boeing Business Jet and the mission came about as it did in part because of the capabilities of the BBJ and the flexibility it provides.

Owned by entrepreneur and long-time Clinton friend Steve Bing – registered to his Shangri-La Entertainment and operated by Avjet – the BBJ received all required U.S. clearances and approvals as it took a long route to Pyongyang- flying via Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska- Misawa Air Force Base in Japan- and on to the North Korean capital to bring home Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

This successful mission illustrates better than most that some trips demand more than any other mode of travel offers – and a solution beyond the capabilities of both commercial and military hardware. And that’s a profit for humanity.

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