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Leading The Wings Club and the Industry

Tonight, two of our agency’s favorite and most revered aviation clients pass the mantle. One steps down as president of The Wings Club, another steps up.

For the past year USAIG President Dave McKay has led the historic club, building upon the excellence for which the club is known. This evening, FlightSafety International President Bruce Whitman assumes the role.

The world’s largest private clubhouse – the Yale Club in midtown Manhattan – hosts the annual banquet of this prestigious group. Aviation leaders from the States and abroad will attend.

To Mr. McKay, we extend our congratulations for a job well done. And to Mr. Whitman, best wishes for the accomplishments we know lie ahead.

The Wings Club has been in good hands. It remains in an equally strong, capable grasp. Here from our perch in Wichita, the Air Capital, we will watch with no small measure of pride as this 70th anniversary year unfolds.

Businesses in Seventh Heaven With Facebook Timeline

Businesses on Facebook have been made to feel like second-class citizens. Their less-than-special pages have never functioned like personal pages. Couldn’t like your friends, tag them in photos, or send them a message.

That changes March 30 when all pages will automatically transition to the new Timeline design. If, like us, you’re now updating your page for the new format, here are some tips you might find helpful. If you have others, please share. But quickly.

1. Cover Photo

  • Upload a large image (850 pixels by 315 pixels) as your cover photo. This photo can not be an ad, include price, purchase information, contact information or calls-to-action such as “like” or “share.” But you still have lots of leeway to do something cool and brand-building.

2. Fan Page Messages

  • Users can now contact pages via messages. Messages will appear in the admin panel. The downside to this real plus: you need to monitor and respond to these messages. Yes, it’s more work. But think of the gains in engagement. Define your process and include it in your overall social-media plan. And, be sure to tell your boss so she knows why you’re spending even more time on Facebook. It’s where your customers – your fans – are.

3. Admin Panel

  • Administrators have a way cool new tool. The admin panel at the top of the page provides management features and insights directly within the page view.

4. Backdating

  • With the launch of Timeline, you can now backdate milestones. Showcase your business’s history with photos and anecdotes. Everyone loves a good story. Especially ones that show a trajectory of success.

5. Pinning Posts

  • Pin your favorite post to the top of others on your wall. This lets you keep your most important information front and center. Well, for a week. Then new posts will take its place.

 6. Facebook Offers and Sponsored Stories

  • Facebook changes to its advertising offerings means you can now provide offers and sponsored stories directly within users’ newsfeeds – where most all Facebook activity occurs. This is big, people.

7. Reach Generator

  • Facebook has upped its advertising game even more with Reach Generator. This tool lets you pay a fixed fee to guarantee that your content is seen by 75% of your fans. Typically a page post reaches less than 20% of a page’s fans, so this creates a simple way to ensure additional distribution. But buyer beware. It comes at a hefty cost and is only available through Facebook’s premium managed-spend account teams. Facebook says the product has delivered up to three times ROI and reach as high as 98% of fans.

To learn more, and to switch to Timeline visit

Preserving Aviation’s Past

In our technologically wondrous age – when it seems like the promise of George Jetson’s personal-aircraft-flying, push-button-efficiency life could actually be realized – I’m glad there are still people who care about what’s come before and who are working so diligently to preserve it.

The Kansas Aviation Museum recently dedicated its new special archive center, and I had the privilege of being among the many attendees. Former Wichitan Clay Lacy, a man who himself notched numerous aviation milestones, flew in lead donors and honorees Si and Betty Robin. They own California-based Sensor Systems, the world’s largest aircraft radio antenna company. Si, a past inductee into the prestigious Living Legends of Aviation, holds scores of patents for his innovations over more than four decades. Additional funding for the center came from the Lattner Family Foundation in Florida, Bombardier Learjet and Wichita’s Hypatia Club.

You Must See It to Believe It

The 6,500-square-foot, climate-controlled center houses true treasure. Its archive includes thousands of sensitive originals and one-of-a-kind documents guaranteed to increase the heart rate of any aviation enthusiast. It contains more than 250,000 photographs, negatives and slides of rare aircraft from the late ’20s to today. Films of first flights, factory operations, test flights and company promotions. More than 10,000 books – many no longer in print – dating back to 1905. Original file documents for almost every aircraft registered in the United States from the 1920s through 2004. Flying helmets, jackets and trophies that take you back to the days of the giants – Clyde Cessna, Duane Wallace, Walter and Olive Ann Beech, Lloyd Stearman, Matty Laird, Al Mooney, Bill Lear. And others deserving of our memory – the Rawdon brothers, William Purvis, Charles Wilson, Albin Longren, J.M. Moellendick.

It takes a truly special center to house all these tangible expressions of extraordinary achievements. And, now, the Kansas Aviation Museum has it.

Work Remains

Interested in providing time, talent or treasure to help restore the Kansas Aviation Museum to its original glory – and then some? The museum currently lacks an elevator and has no heat or air conditioning in 70 percent of its building. Ever-enthusiastic Executive Director and rainmaker Lon Smith is working hard to raise a little over a million dollars to get the museum where it deserves to be. Check out its website for ideas of where your support could be used.

Lessons from a Lady

Olive Ann Beech and daughter Mary Lynn leaving for college, 1958.

More than 3,000 women will converge at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas today. As attendees of the 23rd annual Women in Aviation International Conference, March 8-10, they’ll be immersed in strategies and tactics designed to ramp up their aviation careers. They will learn about managing change in a dynamic world. Mitigating safety threats for travelers. Getting up to date on FAA-mandated training. They’ll even have a chance to bring their daughters to some sessions.

Among all the career-enhancing seminars, workshops and networking opportunities, one should not be overlooked – the chance to visit with Olive Ann Beech’s daughter.

Mary Lynn Beech Oliver will be in the Author’s Corner, Friday March 9 from 10:30 a.m. till noon. She’ll be selling and signing copies of The Barnstormer and The Lady, one of the best books on aviation I’ve read (and I’ve read my share). What makes it great? Acclaimed author Dennis Farney tells it straight. Mary Lynn wanted it that way. There’s a refreshing absence of PR whitewashing or corporate-speak.

A Lasting Legacy

The book tells the story of two unlikely people who came together and made pioneering breakthroughs in a fledgling industry. It’s a fascinating story of love, conflict and adventure that can be read as the biography of general aviation itself. Together the Beeches filled the sky with iconic aircraft. The virtually handcrafted Beech Staggerwing (Model 17) is considered by many to be the most beautiful airplane ever designed. During World War II, 90 percent of the 45,000 U.S. Army Air Force bombardiers trained on the Model 18 Twin Beech, in production longer than any other aircraft until the v-tail Model 35 Bonanza, one of the most popular and easily recognized personal aircraft of all time. The continually updated Beech Bonanza enjoys the longest production run of any airplane in general aviation history. The legendary King Air outsold all competing turboprops combined.

In 1940 while Walter suffered a devastating illness, a group of Beech executives tried to oust Olive Ann. She fought them off and drove Beechcraft’s contribution to the Allies’ WWII victory. When Walter died in 1950, Olive Ann led the company for the next 32 years. Her office was frequented by the who’s who of her day: President Lyndon Johnson, Bob Hope, Author Godfrey, Walt Disney. Olive Ann never became a pilot herself, but she flew the company to multimillion-dollar heights – and built 54,000 aircraft along the way.

Leading the Way

Olive Ann was respected and admired for her vision and business acumen. Still, she was a woman in a man’s world, one of the very first females in American history to lead a major corporation. When faced with a corporate coup, she crushed it. When a big Eastern bank disrespected her, she dumped it. Admirers and detractors alike called this indomitable elegantly dressed woman “The Queen.”

WAI attendees can learn much from the book – and from the daughter who will be there signing it. I’ve known Mary Lynn for many years and believe she represent the best of both parents. Her father’s brilliance and joie de vivre. Her mother’s tenacious efficiency and commitment to making the world better. Mary Lynn continues her parents’ legacy through her profound support of countless organizations – and by working to ensure their story is not forgotten, by seeing it preserved in the pages of The Barnstormer and The Lady and by taking time to visit with women in aviation today.

Learning from the Legends

Along with other local aviation giants like Clyde Cessna and Bill Lear, the Beeches put my hometown of Wichita, Kansas, on the map – and helped us claim the title of Air Capital. Anyone attending the WAI conference in Dallas tomorrow should make it a point to spend a little time with Mary Lynn Beech Oliver. To ask her questions. To enjoy her firsthand link to history. Especially to her mother, truly “The First Lady of Aviation.”

You can learn more about Walter and Olive Ann Beech, the book about them and upcoming book signings at

Originally published in the March 8 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.