Las Vegsa Strong was the prevalent theme during NBAA17

Having recently returned from this year’s NBAA-BACE, I’m filled with the enthusiasm and excitement for our industry that I’ve always returned with following these terrific, informative conferences.

Personally, it was wonderful to see many of you at the NBAA’s 70th anniversary. I felt it was an incredibly positive show, especially in light of the unrest in the world in general, and, more specifically, what had occurred in Las Vegas just prior to the conference.

In fact, global issues facing our industry were the topics of my many conversations with aviation professionals from around the world at NBAA-BACE.

However, the tragedy that had just taken place was in everyone’s heart and on their minds. It’s to the city’s credit that it found the wherewithal to welcome us with open arms, which it did, abundantly.

Among us aviation professionals, the prevailing sentiment was that of finding ways that we can stick together as a unified force. I found it refreshing.

Our determination to do just that was stronger than ever with people coming together in camaraderie. It was inspiring!

As a gesture of tremendous goodwill and healing, I was very proud to be present as NBAA Charities made a $10,000 contribution to the Las Vegas Victims Fund.

A Few Key Takeaways & Insights:

  • I was reminded how lucky we are in this industry to be exposed to people who’ve changed our world from an aviation perspective. The first two days featured standing-room-only opening sessions with engaging speakers. One of the session’s highlights was a video of a couple of industry legends: “Miracle on the Hudson” hero-pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and astronaut Jim Lovell spoke out against Air Traffic Control (ATC) privatization, and urged aviation professionals to use to tell Congress to oppose it.

    “There’s a lot of young people who are still very much interested in all aspects of aviation – we ought to encourage them to keep going,” said Lovell.

  • Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly with NBAA 70th anniversary sign at NBAA17As part of the Day 2 opening session, astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly shared stories of their adventures on the space shuttle, the International Space Station and as U.S. Navy aviators. It was inspiring to hear how the Kelly brothers found their way into aviation, despite not being particularly good students initially!
  • One of the prevailing themes at the conference was the importance of supporting and mentoring young aviation professionals. On Day 3, more than 1,000 students came to NBAA-BACE, many to participate in Careers in Business Aviation Day, where they heard from Dreams Soar founder and Afghan-American pilot Shaesta Waiz.
  • Former MedAire CEO Joan Sullivan Garrett received NBAA’s 2017 Meritorious Service to Aviation Award. The award recognizes extraordinary lifelong contributions to aviation. Garrett was honored for her pioneering use of advanced aviation-safety solutions to provide critical-care medical response to people in remote locales. If you haven’t watched this video, I highly recommend it!
  • Pilot turned life coach Scott Moore spoke eloquently about values-based leadership at the Women in Corporate Aviation luncheon. As a former candidate and client of ours, we’re excited to see that Scott is following his passion (and keeping within aviation)!
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t mention API’s Sheryl Barden’s appointment to the NBAA Board of Directors. As Vice Chair of NBAA’s Associate Member Advisory Council, Sheryl is one of two associate members to serve on the NBAA Board of Directors.


Pressing Business Aviation Issues

The shortage of pilots our industry is grappling with came up repeatedly in several sessions we attended. One of the best-attended seminars was the session, “All Hands on Deck: Confronting the Personnel Shortage.”

Presenter Chris Broyhill shared a lot of objective survey data from more than 1,300 pilots, as well as research from major airlines and OEMs. It was very impactful to see our industry movers and shakers take on the issue so directly, as the talent shortage is here and now and must be overcome.

It reminded me that our obligation is not merely to listen to the issues confronting us and acknowledge them, but to actually try and do something about them. What action can we take and how can we solve this issue?

As a prerequisite to any action we might engage, one important path is through education, and informing ourselves as best we can. And then, to beat the mentoring drum again, we must ignite the passion in our youth who are aspiring to follow us in this wonderful and challenging industry.


NBAA17 is Over. Now What?

As I do every year following BACE, I like to keep the newly found momentum going. So now that you’re back home from Las Vegas, here’s how you can keep that spirit alive:

  • Compose and mail a personal thank you for important meetings and contacts made. Email is nice, but old-school “snail mail” will set you apart.
  • Also, go to LinkedIn to connect with people you met. And if you haven’t already done so, use this blog to get tips on updating your LinkedIn profile.
  • Send an email to touch base with those you met who could be key to your future.
  • Once back at your company HQ, set up a meeting with other team members to debrief what you learned and key takeaways.
  • Set a reminder to contact your congressional representatives once a month until the ATC privatization issue is decided.
  • Connect with your local and regional industry groups and trade associations to find ways to stay involved at home.
  • Give back by helping other people make connections too. You get what you give!
  • Contact NBAA about the session(s) you most enjoyed, and offer your assistance to be a “table lead” and mentor at NBAA18 and thereafter.
  • Sign up to be a mentor to a young adult through NBAA’s new beta program.
  • Arrange to talk to kids and high schoolers about the latest technology available in aviation, e.g. Uber in the skies, unmanned aerial vehicles and drones. (For example, I’m attending my stepdaughter’s fourth grade “Career Day” to talk about careers in business aviation.)

And if, for some reason you didn’t feel you had the most productive time at NBAA-BACE, here are some things to think about as you prepare for any industry conference.

  • Plan in advance! Know the agenda and be strategic in determining which sessions are most important for you. Use the NBAA app to plan your schedule and route.
  • Identify sessions to attend where you not only have interest, but where the audience will include people with whom you’d like to network.
  • Engage in conversations and pay attention to those in line for taxis and/or on elevators – you never know who you’re going to bump into!
  • Don’t forget to plan time to walk the floor.
  • Schedule meetings with vendors and clients two weeks prior to the conference, and set up a consistent meeting place.
  • Given the fact mentoring is such a hot topic, attend the Career Day Luncheon/Seminar on the final day of BACE so you can give back and inspire young minds.
  • Attend the opening General Sessions to receive important messages from NBAA and to hear presentations by inspirational speakers.
  • Follow NBAA on social media for all of the latest convention news.
  • Attend a YoPro event to network with young business aviation professionals.


Once Again . . .

I hope I’ve given you some food for thought about what occurred at NBAA17, and inspired you to make a point of attending NBAA18 next year.

And, once again, I’m sure I can speak for everyone here at API to say that we were heartbroken with the terrible, senseless tragedy that occurred in Las Vegas .

Aviation is an industry built on passion, and that passion we all share isn’t confined to simply building our careers. It spills over into our lives and the lives of everyone around us.

We know beyond a doubt that we’re all in this world together, and so we grieve with everyone and hope for a better, more positive future.

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