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A Fly-In With Heart

Sonia Greteman and Ashley Bowen Cook standing in the very spot where EAA Chairman Tom Poberezny gave his unexpected, impromptu resignation speech on July 26.
Sonia Greteman and Ashley Bowen Cook standing in the very spot where EAA Chairman Tom Poberezny gave his unexpected, impromptu resignation speech on July 26.

Oshkosh is where the true disciples of aviation gather. The show is grounded in experimental and homebuilt aircraft, but business aviation has been smart to grow its presence here. Just as businesses have started flocking to Facebook because that’s where the people are, our corporate aviation clients see this as an increasingly important show. They offer the high-end of what can be flown by a pilot. It’s aspirational.

You may see the CEO of a Fortune 500 company walking the grounds with his grandkids – all dressed in shorts, T-shirts and ball caps. People seem to check their egos at the gate. It’s all about flying here. The love of what can be achieved in the sky starts young and stays with you. Families camping by their planes. Kids napping in the shade of an aircraft wing. Seniors in wheelchairs zipping about the crowded walkways. Tykes watching the airshows wide-eyed from their strollers.

The big OEMs are here along with the guy selling a widget for an obscure aircraft that only has a small number still in existence.

People have been very willing to talk business. It’s such a relaxed, casual atmosphere. We’ve had a number of people give us their business cards with the instruction, ‘Let’s talk.’ One marketing director must have talked to us for 45 minutes. At NBAA, the pace is so hectic, we’d be lucky to get 10 minutes of his time.

The sheer size of the grounds takes you back. Always full trams mean you walk and walk and walk. Like an oasis, your destination always feels a bit out of reach. We quickly downscaled our ambitious plans to do numerous intercept interviews, making ourselves content with quality over quantity of conversations.

As an aviation marketing firm, we pay special attention to how people promote their aircraft and services. But, at Oshkosh, it’s less about sales and more about hearts and minds. Inspiring people to fly. To build things with their hands. To dream big. And to keep their eyes lifted.

Safety Reigns in New Orleans: ALEA Hosts Its 41st Annual Conference and Exposition

Click this photo to read the newsletter.
Click this photo to read the newsletter.

When the annual conference of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA) convenes tomorrow in New Orleans, conversations of its 3,500 members will focus on public safety.

• How to keep it front and center in every operation when there are so many, often conflicting, demands.

• Where in times of diminished budgets to find funds for needed education and training.

• Who has best practices to share, particularly in maintaining vigilance and staying sharp.

We won’t be at the show ourselves, but will have a bit of a virtual presence. Our hot-off-the-presses rotorcraft edition of FlightSafety International’s Training Matters will be at the show. One of its most interesting articles talks about night-vision goggle use and training.

Collaboration Lights the Night

FlightSafety has teamed with NVG-training-leader Aviation Specialties Unlimited to offer simulation-based NVG training. While this training is initially starting at FlightSafety’s Learning Center in Tucson (in the world’s first Level 7 FTD), it will expand to FlightSafety’s other helicopter Learning Centers. Even if you’re training on a Eurocopter AS350 FTD, your NVG training can be done regardless of your helicopter type or mission. It certainly beats training in your helicopter – which restricts you to training at night only, limits the emergency and abnormal scenarios you can train for, and diverts the aircraft away from its primary mission – enforcement.

We applaud FlightSafety, Aviation Specialties and ALEA for their efforts to keep the public safe. As members of said public, we sleep easier at night knowing you guys are on the job. And wearing your night vision goggles.

Oshkosh By Gosh

If you see me at the show, stop and say hello.
If you see me at the show, stop and say hello.

In two weeks, I’ll be joining half-a-million aviation enthusiasts at Oshkosh. Our agency has attended before, but this is my first show. And I can’t wait. You’ll know me by the big grin on my face.

As Greteman Group’s newest team member, I have yet to meet a number of our clients face to face. EAA AirVenture offers the perfect opportunity to connect, because many of them are Oshkosh mainstays. The first EAA fly-in happened in 1953, only two years after the founding of client and longtime-attendee FlightSafety International. Dallas Airmotive marketer extraordinaire and longtime agency bud Chris Pratt plans to be there or be square. He’s flying his hand-built RV-8, complete with Greteman Group-designed paint scheme. I’ve seen a photo of the beauty in Sonia’s office. Now I’ll maybe get to climb aboard. Mary Lynn Oliver, daughter of aviation legends Walter and Olive Ann Beech, will participate in book signings for her recently published book, The Barnstormer and the Lady, which we’ve helped promote. She’s another on my long list of people to meet at the show.

I’m especially looking forward to seeing the premiere of the Glacier Girl display our team developed for Lewis Air Legends. What an incredible story of perseverance, ingenuity and heroism. Hope you’ll drop by and see it (in Warbird Alley).

Razzle Dazzle Backed by the Real Deal

There are 1,000+ scheduled events and more than 10,000 aircraft flying in from around the world: from vintage to electric, warbirds to business jets, homebuilts to OEMs. Growing up in Wichita, the Air Capital, I’ve always been a fan of flight, but I fully expect to return from Oshkosh a changed man. You can’t be around this kind of passion without being affected. In the meantime, you can pine at

AOPA CEO Rocks the Wichita Aero Club

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) CEO Craig Fuller was preaching to the choir today. And the packed house of aviation enthusiasts loved every note.

Today’s Wichita Aero Club meeting at the Airport Hilton drew more than 200 aircraft manufacturers, suppliers, pilots, civic leaders and media. Fuller – whose long, distinguished career includes serving in the Reagan and Bush White Houses (1981-1989) – was quick to highlight questionable actions on the part of the federal government. Billions in proposed user fees. Rhetoric that bashes “billionaires and their jets.” The LightSquared proposal and its potential to disrupt GPS signals. The FAA’s plan to curtail the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program. It’s high drama in Washington, he said, with Sunday sessions at the White House and negotiations going on around the clock.

“I’m concerned where aviation comes out in all of this,” he said.

Fuller addressed many challenges faced by general aviation – unmanned aircraft crop dusting in China to av fuel lead emissions – and acknowledged the economy occupies the pole position. He lauded the joint effort of multiple aviation organizations to overcome “the worse economic downturn in 70 years.” He said, they all “kind of locked arms,” realizing there was more to be gained by working together than individually.

The precipitous drop in pilots – from 800,000 fifteen years ago to just over 600,000 today creates great concern, Fuller said. Not only are fewer pilots coming out of the military, he said, 80% of student pilots never become licensed pilots. AOPA launched an industry-wide initiative last summer and continues to work to retain and grow the pilot population.

Fuller rallied the crowd, reminding attendees that AOPA has been fighting the good fight since 1939 – promoting aviation safety, advocating for the industry and communicating key issues. “We like to share the good news that’s happening,” he said. He closed by adding, “It’s a great community. It’s a resilient community.”

Remembering a Leader: James Hoblyn

The shock waves sent through the aviation industry at the news of James Hoblyn’s untimely death continue to rock our office. How could someone so vibrant and fit be gone so suddenly? Nothing about the news seems right or fair.

As president of Bombardier Customer Services and Specialized and Amphibious Aircraft, Mr. Hoblyn championed the Amazing Customer Experience initiative for all of Bombardier Aerospace, aftermarket services for business, commercial, specialized and amphibious aircraft. A tall order. But he was a tall man. To know, Mr. Hoblyn was to look up to him.

We first met Mr. Hoblyn in the late ‘90s when he joined Bombardier Aerospace and interacted with him when he was serving as managing director of Flexjet Europe (now Skyjet International). He continued to serve in positions of increasing responsibility: VP, marketing sales operations and asset management for Regional Aircraft; VP, contracts, flight demonstration operations, marketing, sales support, strategic planning and product planning; SVP for Bombardier Business Aircraft customer experience. Whatever the challenge, Mr. Hoblyn rose to meet it. And he brought others along with him.

We will be joining our friends at Bombardier in a moment of silence Thursday, July 7 at 9:00 (CDT). Together, we remember a man not soon forgotten.

Plug and Play with the Square Credit-Card Reader

Whether you’re planning to sell logoed items at your Oshkosh booth later this month or taking a down payment on a turboprop, if you haven’t yet tried the sweet new Square credit-card reader, I suggest you check it out. It’s efficient, secure and cost effective. Both the reader and the application are free. There are no monthly fees or contracts. You simply pay a per-swipe fee of 2.75 percent. Add 15 cents for a manual-entry transaction.

I just returned from a national convention in Vegas where we premiered the book Risk Only Money for a friend (longtime aviation enthusiast and hospitality mogul Jack DeBoer). I used our new Square reader on both my iPhone and iPad. It worked beautifully (and would on your Android or iPod touch, too). It also acted as a conversation piece. Everyone commented on it.

Make the World Your Point of Sale

Square’s revolutionary mobile benefits work especially well for an industry on the move. Forget cumbersome hardware and standing in front of a register. Now you can handle transactions with a swipe while standing out on the tarmac during a static display or sharing lemonade in the shade. The pocket-sized Square plugs right into your phone’s audio jack. Customers sign directly on the screen and enjoy the convenience of either a text message or email receipt. You can download full reports anytime, anywhere.

You don’t even need a merchant account. Square has streamlined the account creation process like no other. In the time it takes to download the Square app, the user can fill out the four or so necessary questions to verify identification online, sign up to receive the free reader in 3-5 business days, and you are set.

Square accepts all the major US credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa. International credit cards aren’t accepted yet, but I can’t imagine it being long before that changes.

I love my Square. You, no doubt, will love the ease of yours. To learn more, head to