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A Living Legend

Wichita native and aviation legend Clay Lacy entertained a capacity audience in Wichita with a few stories from his long career. Yeah we know. Legend is overused. Tiresome. Sometimes, though, no other description will do. See if you don’t agree.

  • The world’s top aerial cinematographer
  • Nearly 50,000 flight hours in 50-plus years
  • A commercial pilot for more than 40 years
  • Type-rated in 30 aircraft, from helicopters to 747s
  • One of the first pilots type-rated in Learjets
  • Owner of one of the nation’s top jet charter firms
  • Pilot for celebrities and presidents
  • Still flying at age 75

We could go on. But you get the idea. World-renowned (we resisted the temptation to say “legendary,” but we could make the case) air-to-air photographer Paul Bowen chatted with Lacy for the benefit of an appreciative crowd at Wichita State University, eliciting a number of nuggets from among Lacy’s endless trove of aviation tales.

WSU’s Ulrich Museum of Art brought the two together to discuss the art of aviation as part of an exhibit, “Aircraft: The Jet as Art.” Lacy said when he first was contacted, he wasn’t sure that he knew much about aviation art. But the more he thought about it, he said, the more he realized that, “I think airplanes are art. I think that airplanes in flight – all of them – are absolutely beautiful. I’ve seen more of them in flight than anyone ever, and I still love them.”

Then Lacy showed two short films, one showcasing his air-to-air cinematography and one covering a few highlights of his life in aviation. They erased any doubt about whether airplanes constitute art or whether Lacy is an artist of the first order. Bowen described the complex choreography and precision flying required for one of Lacy’s photo shoots as an aerial ballet. We think that’s a perfect description.

Sonia, who serves on the Ulrich board and knows more than a few aviation luminaries, finds new inspiration each time she hears the words of masters such as Lacy and Bowen. “Aircraft are the perfect expression of function driving elegant form. Clay’s cinematography, like a Paul Bowen photograph, is truly breathtaking. Graceful. Fluid. It’s such a privilege to hear these men in person, talking about their lives and their work. It’s one of the real advantages of living in the Air Capital.”

Kansas Aviation Museum’s Gala

My dad, aviation photographer Paul Bowen, has developed amazing relationships over the years. I recently accompanied him to the Kansas Aviation Museum gala honoring one of his dearest friends: Mort Brown, Aviation 2008 Hall of Fame Inductee. Mort turned 100 this year, which made this honor even more special. During Mort’s years as Cessna’s production-flight-test chief pilot, he released more than 85,000 new aircraft to owners. This man has stories.

Other highlights of the evening included Director Lon Smith sharing what the countless hours of volunteer time from the Wichita community have meant to the museum. Had the museum had to pay for those hours, the costs would be in the millions. Wichita loves its aircraft – and their preservation. It made me proud to see the museum’s new Greteman Group-created identity so prominently displayed throughout the evening and to know that it’s playing a role in the museum’s outreach and growth.

Dave Franson, friend and executive director of the recently launched Wichita Aero Club, kept busy spreading the word about the organization and its plans. Of course seeing Dave talk nonstop is nothing new. I say that with love.

Aviation reporter Molly McMillin was also sharing news. Her’s was about her new blog, the Air Capital Insider, which launched this week. Be sure to check it out.

Keynote speaker Eric Lindbergh, grandson of the first man to fly nonstop across the Atlantic, reminded us of how far we’ve come since 1927. Discussions with leaders from some of the industry’s leading aircraft manufacturers inspired us with new boundary-busting visions. The entire evening made me glad that I make the Air Capital my home.

Photo credit: Wichita Business Journal

What This Election Taught Us About Branding

Whether or not your candidate won on November 4, we can all learn something from Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign.

He had a single, voter-resonating message – change – and stuck with it. And he bolstered traditional tactics by using new media in ways never before seen in an election. Working with chief strategist David Axelrod and campaign manager David Plouffe, Obama crafted a strategy that made him Advertising Age’s “Marketer of the Year.”

Businesses Can Learn Much from Obama’s Campaign

Here are just a few of the lessons:

  1. Consistency. Obama’s branded “change” campaign set him apart from the pack. As branding guru Al Ries points out, do you even remember Hillary Clinton’s creative? Here she was, the beneficiary of Bill Clinton’s eight years in office, with the most experienced campaign team, yet her message kept morphing into something different. (If you can’t remember, you’re not alone. There’s a number to keep track of. First, came “Experience,” then “Countdown to change,” then “Solutions for America.”) McCain threw out numerous branded images and hoped one stuck. Maverick. Straight talker. American hero.The public and media’s infatuation with Sarah Palin drowned out McCain and, at times, made it feel like he was second on the ticket. Obama, meanwhile, stayed with his message: Change.
  2. Resonance. Obama had the luxury of distance from George W. Bush’s policies. McCain did not. And if McCain tried to create that same distance, Obama would remind us how often McCain voted Bush’s position. You heard it often enough to recite it, too: 90 percent.
  3. Tactics. Obama successfully employed social media to speak directly to his supporters and, equally important, to get their feedback. He listened. And learned. Obama created a groundswell of support at the micro level and communicated with his base via what insiders call MyBO, or “” He used email, text messages and Twitter. If you attended an event, he sent an email saying thanks. If a candidate attacked him, he refuted the attack with a video, delivered directly to your inbox. These tactics helped him earn votes. But they also helped him harvest an unprecedented $650 million from more than three million supporters. That war chest allowed him to purchase the ads he needed to win: $160 million on broadcast media, almost $14 million on print, $12 million on digital media. Note that while his social media campaign was phenomenally innovative and effective, he still spent the bulk of his outreach dollars on traditional media.

Applying the Principles

Whether you voted red or blue, remember that branding principles, properly executed, can help you succeed. Know your audience. Speak to their dreams. Create a vision of what you will do. Choose the right message and stay with it. Work tirelessly and well using both traditional and new media tactics. Reach out and energize new customers. Give them the tools to convert others to your product or service.

And once you’ve made the sale, remember to keep building and deepening the relationship. What’s happening now that Obama won the election? The millions who used MyBarackObama to organize 35,000+ groups and host more that 200,000 events are now being encouraged to continue the community, to stay connected, to collaborate, to add members and to move forward. Together.

Winning Is Only the Beginning

Check out the new transition social media site, appropriately named It lets you upload your ideas for the country, apply for a job, check out the developing face of the new administration and more. Want to see images of the election? You can view them on Flickr.

A brand is what people think of you. And that perception constantly shifts. So you must keep building your brand. Every day. It will be interesting to watch Obama these coming weeks and months.

Just a Bunch of Health Nuts

After glugging our way to victory in the YMCA’s August “Eight-A-Day Water Wellness Challenge” the October “Stretch to De-stress” challenge had us competing against other local businesses to see who could complete the largest number of stretches over a five-day period. We came out on top with 30 percent participation and averaging 12 stretches per person.

We may have looked a little odd doing stretches at our desks, but that made the non-stretchers among us laugh, which added to their stress relief as well.

The YMCA’s traveling corporate cup will grace our offices once again throughout the month of November.