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Helitech 2011: The Place To Be

Helitech 2011 opens tomorrow. And we’re going to be wishing we were on the other side of the pond. Watching the aerial demonstrations. Checking out the static displays. Talking to folks. Specifically, those who build, fly and maintain these amazing aircraft.

As it is, we’ll have to content ourselves with news reports, feedback from clients and social media. Projections call for 200 exhibitors, 35+ aircraft and more than 4,000 attendees. The site, the Imperial War Museum Duxord, is a draw all its own. The museum started life as a World War I airfield, served a pivotal role in WWII and now has one of the UK’s (and probably the world’s) finest military exhibits. The museum doesn’t celebrate war. It commemorates it. Acknowledging the sacrifices and toll paid by all.

Much has changed in Helitech’s 25-year history. Not just for the show. For the rotorcraft industry. It continues to deliver ever-increasing value in both peace and war. Tilt-rotor aircraft sport a helicopter’s vertical-takeoff abilities while performance is on par with a turboprop fixed-wing plane. New all-composite airframes reduce weight, fuel and operating costs. Glass cockpits provide intuitive, integrated, facts-at-a-glance. Safety features help you avoid terrain and other traffic. Eurocopter entered the scene in 1992 and now accounts for a third of the world’s civil fleet. Sikorsky’s S-92 won the Collier trophy as 2002’s greatest aeronautics achievement. Bell just rolled out the newest member of its successful 407 platform. AgustaWestland, formed by a merger in 2000, sees itself as a total rotorcraft capability provider. Its 16-ton AW101, built for both commercial and military use, can carry 30 passengers.

Game-Changing Training

In our work for FlightSafety International, we’re seeing a growing reliance on simulation-based training, allowing pilots to prepare for possibilities you couldn’t train for in an aircraft. Or certainly wouldn’t want to. True-to-life, scenario-based, industry-specific training goes even further, letting you customize situations to simulate a range of operational hazards encountered by law enforcement, emergency medical services, offshore transport, newsgathering and more. Specialized instruction for both pilots and maintenance technicians prepare crews for real, on-the-job challenges. Simulation scenarios place a heavy emphasis on human factors, crew resource management and the unique issues associated with each type of operation and environment – including over water and mountainous terrain. FlightSafety also offers the industry’s only simulation-based training for night-vision goggles, which are becoming standard in a growing number of operations.

Participating From Afar

If you’re not going to the show, but wish you were, too, you might do like us and participate virtually. On Twitter, follow @HelitechEvents and monitor posts for #Helitech11. On Facebook, like Helitech Events.

Looking Forward

Not to wish our lives away, but we’re already looking forward to rotorcraft’s largest trade show: HELI-EXPO. Next year’s conference will be just down the road from us in Dallas, Feb. 11-14. You’ll find us among the 18,000 attendees checking out the 65 helicopters and 600 exhibitors. Because as great as social media is, and news coverage and direct feedback from clients – nothing beats being there in person.

Bombardier and John Travolta Team Up

When receiving his Living Legends Ambassador of Aviation Award, Travolta read from a favorite childhood book. On aviation, of course. Photo by John Wright.

Longstanding client Bombardier Business Aircraft made an announcement today that has us dancing.

John Travolta has been named a brand ambassador for Bombardier’s Learjet, Challenger and Global jets.

Few celebrities have Travolta’s aviation credentials and passion for flight. The award-winning actor and accomplished film producer is a licensed jet pilot. He personifies the corporate jet traveler – using his aircraft to make his life work. Filming in multiple and perhaps remote locations. Participating in a press junket involving the east and west coasts. Advancing his far-flung charity work.

In a press release issued today, Travolta says, “Business aviation has always made sense to me in that it offers flexibility, privacy, security and most importantly, timesaving – meaning I have the ability to keep up with my busy schedule and have more time for my family, which is very important to me.

“On top of that, I’m a pilot – I love to fly. Bombardier designs aircraft as much for the person flying them as for the passenger. I’m proud to represent their aircraft.”

Flying Fever

Travolta recently became qualified to fly Challenger aircraft – taking the number of commercial and business jet types he is licensed for to 11. Impressive. The industry’s taken notice, too. Travolta has been honored with the Living Legends Ambassador of Aviation Award and the American Institute of Aeronautics Foundation Award for Excellence. I had the privilege of attending the Living Legends banquet last year and must confess, seeing John “Broken Arrow” Travolta was among the highlights of the event for me.

Bombardier Business Aircraft President Steve Ridolfi says, “We are thrilled to have him as our brand ambassador.”

We’re thrilled, too. To not just have a spokesperson with Travolta’s charm and personality, but to have someone who knows aviation firsthand. Who flies the planes. Who relies on private air travel.

Look Who’s Talking

Today as corporate aviation seems to be under siege by Washington and typecast as a toy of the privileged, Travolta can speak with authority as to corporate aviation’s indispensable role in business. And, more specifically, the unrivaled value delivered by Bombardier aircraft, the industry’s largest and most comprehensive family of business jets.

Welcome to the Bombardier family, Mr. Travolta. And thank you for your continued advocacy for private aviation.

Wichita Air Capital of the World

Something special happened at the National Center for Aviation Training last night. Even more than the premiere of The Aviators Season 2. Our community took a big step toward reclaiming its rightful place in the aviation pantheon.

The Wichita Aero Club and other aviation enthusiasts came together for an unveiling of the new Wichita Air Capital of the World logo and campaign. They roll out to the full community in The Wichita Eagle this Sunday – along with a feature on our aviation heritage.

Reclaim the Name

The time is right to reclaim and proclaim our standing as the Air Capital of the World. Kansas just celebrated 100 years of flight. Aviation is rebounding from its worst-ever recession. And Wichita needs to capitalize on this growth.

While working on the new airport terminal history display and serving on the Aero Club board, I started thinking about a big idea. A movement. One that engages our entire community and makes it proud of our aviation roots – and future. Greteman Group created a pro bono campaign that builds on one the chamber initiated more than 80 years ago. The club earmarked funds for an ad to launch the effort, and the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition has stepped up with tremendous support, branding its upcoming NBAA booth with the new Air Capital identity and printing scout cards that will be handed out to show attendees. A Reclaim the Name scout card was also created for Wichita to drive people to the Aero Club’s website to learn how they can use the logo and promote the city.

We’ve Done It Before – And Can Do It Again

Wichita turned out a quarter of all U.S. aircraft in 1928. The city boasted 16 airplane manufacturers, six engine factories, 11 airports, a dozen flying schools and numerous suppliers. The Chamber of Commerce held a logo contest to help claim the title Air Capital of the World. The winner found its way onto everything from car grilles to flour sacks.

A Logo for the Next 100 Years

We designed the new logo to connect with the past while positioning us for the future. The updated mark remains true to the original – retaining the wings and the sunflower – but takes on a cleaner, more modern look. The stylized sunflower evokes a super-efficient turbofan jet engine. Just as a turbofan provides thrust, this logo should serve to propel our community forward. The new logo adds “of the World” to reinforce our global role. The classic wings have a straightforward, timeless Art Deco feel. They are more aviation-inspired, less bird-like than the original.

The simplicity of the logo makes it highly reproducible – a major goal as the mark serves as a gift to the community – encouraging businesses and individuals to use it as a means to Reclaim the Name: Air Capital of the World. The mark works well whether being embroidered on a shirt or supersized for a tradeshow booth.

It Takes a Village

Wichita has what it takes to fully lay claim to the Air Capital name. When people ask you for the proof in the pudding, here are a few talking points. We won’t make you practice them in the mirror. But what a great idea.

  • Expertise – Delivered more than half of all general aviation ever built.
  • Workforce – Highest concentration of skilled aviation labor.
  • Heritage – 100 years of aviation manufacturing.
  • Reputation – World’s best-known, most-diverse aviation cluster.
  • Leadership – No 1 U.S. manufacturing market per capita.
  • Skills – More than 8,000 skilled engineers.
  • Unique – Most business-aviation focused of the five major aviation clusters (others: Dallas, Montreal, Seattle, Toulouse).

Use It or Lose It

Wichita embraced its aviation identity in the late ’20s and reaped the rewards. Let’s do it again.

Click here to learn how you can download and start using our new Air Capital of the World identity. And help us reclaim the name.

Analyzing Google Analytics

Be honest. You see the benefits of tracking the results of your online marketing efforts, but do you fully tap into this resource? Maybe it’s a matter of no time. Or limited staff. Or lack of knowledge.

Google Analytics can help. Find someone who has achieved this certification (yes, we have it), or have someone on your team go through the certification process. It’s worth the effort.

For one, it will help ensure you’re tracking what’s important. Remember how overused visit-counters used to be? Google Analytics will help you quickly see that measuring “hits” alone means little. Analytics let you see what search keywords people use to find your site, how much time they spend on it, what pages they view most, and pages where they tend to exit.

Solving the Problem Starts With Identifying It

Let’s say your company sells aircraft paint liveries and that you recently launched a website that enjoys heavy traffic, but has generated no increase in sales. With Google Analytics, you can track visitors and bounce rates (the percentage of people who only view one page before exiting).

In this hypothetical case, analytics enable you to see that most of your traffic is coming from the search term “paint jobs” and for all users who hit your site from that search-term there is a 90% bounce rate. This means that the vast majority of people finding your site are probably there by mistake. Aircraft-specific paint jobs are of no interest to them. Using this information, you can refine your search-engine optimization (SEO) to make your services clearer – so the people attracted to your site are actually looking for what you provide. You can study the 10% who are finding your site and apply your marketing efforts – Google AdWords, compelling content, special events, promotions, etc. – to finding more like them.

You can use analytics to uncover emerging trends and markets. Reviewing how many users visited your site from specific cities around the world, you can see if particular regions rank higher in searches for “aircraft paint jobs.” If so, advertising in those areas could prove beneficial. You know the interest is there.

Knowledge You Can Act On

Google Analytics provide strategic metrics that can help you finely target your efforts and develop insights that take your marketing from good to great. With this knowledge, you can optimize your website to keep people engaged – and plug the holes where you lose them.