For years, the aviation calendar used to go something like this: Oshkosh (now known as AirVenture) ended in the first days of August. Later that fall we had the AOPA and NBAA events and that appeared to be largely the end of shows until a new season launched. In fact, it was a rather long winter until Sun ’n Fun rolled around in mid-April. Oh, we had all manner of regional events and pancake breakfasts but the major airshows were over, it seemed.
In just concluded October 2011, it seemed something was going on most weekends. Of course, this might be no more than a self-imposed “reality distortion field,” to borrow a phrase often attributed to the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Perhaps I am merely more focused on smaller venue events these days. My observations aren’t meant to represent a scientific analysis. Nonetheless, I perceive the greater show activity to mean aviation continues its search for more actions that could draw in new interest. That this is happening in the midst of an ugly economic downturn could be proof that we’re trying harder… or that aviation is desperate for new ideas — the optimist in me prefers to believe the former.
However you might decide aviation’s growth dilemma is unfolding, the fact remains that our interest in flying and the passion we share for it keeps us moving forward. Our steps may not always be the right ones, but at least we aren’t standing still. For that I thank all those show organizers who climb the mountain to put on their event, often without remuneration and rarely for any great profit.
Trade shows may be troubled in some of American business life, but they remain vital to aviation. Maybe it’s the amount of space our planes require. Possibly shows remain critical as you need to see planes fly — and preferably go fly in them — before you can make purchase decisions. I see this as different from cars and boats, frequently sold at shows where no usage occurs.
Regardless of the final answers, I’m pleased we have so many events to stimulate or reinvigorate our interest. If you feel similarly, then be sure to support your local aviation event. Maybe you can bring a non-flying neighbor and show him or her around the flying machines we all love. Growing aviation is a thing of small steps but we have to take them. Show producers offer their venue. Now it’s up to you!
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