Just like every year, NBAA has set up its big white tent on the flight line in Oshkosh, WI. But this year, the NBAA tent at the Experimental Aircraft Association's (EAA's) AirVenture extravaganza has seen exceptionally heavy foot traffic – and witnessed intense buzz about the state of the industry.
"People are just so engaged this year, as much as we've ever seen," said Aimee Kaufman, NBAA Director, Marketing. "There's so much going on in Washington – and so much that NBAA's been responding to."
Many NBAA Members are coming to the tent to express their concern about the future of the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program, FAA reauthorization and all the negative rhetoric coming from White House.
"Most Members appreciate that NBAA's taking action," said Kaufman. "Many come in and tell us: 'I've been following every email from Ed Bolen. I've sent messages to Washington using Contact Congress. What more can I do?'"
In fact, Kaufman reported that several Members have used the computers in NBAA's Oshkosh tent to access Contact Congress and tell their representatives to oppose user fees, preserve the BARR and reject President Obama's recent attacks on business aviation.
The tent has been welcoming nearly as many non-Members, drawn by the factory-upgraded Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza XTRA tied down right out front. "We've had a lot of people come by who never heard of NBAA or didn't think it was for them see the Bonanza and say 'I fly an airplane just like that!'" said Kaufman. "It gives us an opportunity to talk about all the Light Business Airplane (LBA) resources that NBAA provides, especially the LBA Conference at the Annual Meeting & Convention (NBAA2011) in Las Vegas, NV from October 10 to 12. Those sessions are specifically designed for the owner/operators we meet here at Oshkosh."
To welcome LBA operators at Oshkosh to the Convention in Las Vegas, NBAA is giving away one free NBAA2011 registration per day to the winner of a daily drawing at the tent. Visitors to the tent can also have their picture taken with Las Vegas legends Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra – by standing against NBAA's promotional backdrop.
There's also a large contingent of staff at the tent to answer Member and non-Member questions, including Kaufman, NBAA Vice President for Membership Marketing Chris Strong, NBAA's regional representatives and Association President and CEO Ed Bolen. The staff enjoy meeting new and current Members, as well as sharing the tent's air conditioning, Wi-Fi, water and front row-seat to the air show.
"We're especially welcoming those thousands of business owners or managers who fly singles or light twins on business but never realized what NBAA has to offer," said Strong. "We're here to say: if you use an airplane for business – no matter how small or large the airplane; no matter how small or large the company – then, NBAA is right for you."