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Telling Aviation Stories

Every day, aviation serves and connects people, cultures and businesses.

As an aviation writer and lifetime flyer, I aspire to capture how aircraft uniquely enhance and empower our lives and communities. In this industry, you’re often marketing an experience or emotion more than a product. Or even better, telling a story through the lens of the pilot, operator or passenger living the experience. 

Aviation Translation

Something I learned from a young age is that aviation speak can initially pose intimidation, practically appearing like a foreign language from the outside with all of its lingo, codes, technical terms and acronyms. 

As a child growing up in an aviation family, I absolutely loved and appreciated flying but often felt like an outsider when surrounded by pilots. But then something happened. I unexpectedly learned to fly during college, earning my private pilot’s license in just two months. 

Almost as though I had entered another realm, the language barrier began to fall. Words and phrases pilots spoke became clearer. My eyes were opened to the true passion and comradery among this group. Flying was not so complex after all. 

Perhaps most importantly, I learned flight is an accessible and attainable activity, not strictly exclusive. The experience brought forth a confidence and clarity to alter my entire career path and join my father and sister in the business aviation world. As it turns out, one of the best decisions I ever made. 

Making a Wide Impact

An aviation upbringing, private pilot’s license and marketing degree laid the perfect foundation for a career marketing and communicating about aircraft and aviation services. But undoubtedly, it is personal experiences and connections that drive some of the best writing about the people who fly, own or maintain aircraft.

My recent tenure as editor-in-chief of Twin & Turbine Magazine – a monthly publication dedicated to aircraft owners and operators – especially amplified a growing passion for covering human interest stories related to aviation’s widespread yet personal impact. In whatever they read, I find people most often search for relatability or inspiration. In other words, “How does this affect me?”

At T&T, this took form in a range of articles detailing aircraft operations, lessons learned, safety programs, humanitarian efforts, charitable flying organizations, air show gatherings, new and innovative technologies – every piece dispensed and packaged from the actual pilots and aviation professionals working in the field. 

Less than one percent of the U.S. population holds a pilot’s license, yet this small and mighty group makes an incredible impact on our country and the world (nearly $250 billion in total U.S. economic output from business aviation alone). 

I consider it an aviation writer’s greatest goal to help bridge the gap between those on the inside and outside of this niche industry. Because whether you are writing about general aviation, business aviation or commercial aviation, the magic of flight connects and compels us all. 

PHOTO: Little makes me more nostalgic than flying with my dad, Randy Groom, in a Beechcraft Bonanza.

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran Honored at Wichita Aero Club Trophy Gala

The 2024 Wichita Aero Club gala brought more than 300 national, state and local officials plus aviation industry leadership together to honor U.S. Senator Jerry Moran and all he has done for Kansas to keep us The Air Capital of the World.

Set under the wings of Doc, the restored B-29 bomber, the evening kicked off with patriotic flair as McConnell Air Force Base Honor Guard gave the presentation of the colors followed by the national anthem. As WAC board chair and trophy selection chair, I had the honor of emceeing the event alongside Club President Nicole Alexander.

Honoring Those Gone Too Soon

We opened the evening by honoring two long-time Wichita journalists – Jerry Siebenmark with Aviation International News and Daniel McCoy with the Wichita Business Journal, who both passed away in 2023. Jerry and Daniel covered Wichita’s aviation industry, including many of the companies represented at the event, with integrity and skill.

Molly McMillin, board member, award-winning aviation journalist and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, reflected on their contributions and their passion for aviation.

In Molly’s words “Jerry Siebenmark and Daniel McCoy covered the vibrant aviation industry both locally and throughout the world. They were passionate about all things aviation and their work bringing fair and accurate news and analysis to their readers. Jerry and Daniel passed away much too soon and at the height of their careers in aviation journalism. They were dedicated husbands, fathers and friends. We are poorer without their presence.”

National Aviation Hall of Fame

Aimee Maruyama, president and CEO, National Aviation Hall of Fame and Jim Cooling, National Aviation Hall of Fame board chair were in attendance to present Sen. Moran with the Congressional Leadership Award.

National Aviation Hall of Fame Congressional Leadership Award Presentation (L to R): Aimee Maruyama, President and CEO, National Aviation Hall of Fame; Ed Bolen, President and CEO, National Business Aviation Association; U.S. Senator Jerry Moran; Pete Bunce, President and CEO, General Aviation Manufacturers Association; Jim Cooling, Board Chair, National Aviation Hall of Fame.

A Champion for Aerospace

Dr. John Tomblin, Wichita State University senior VP for Industry and Defense Programs, NIAR executive director, 2022 WAC trophy recipient, works closely with Sen. Moran and provided an introduction. “Not only has he provided tireless support for Wichita State University and NIAR, but on a grander scale, his commitment to the strength of our nation’s aerospace industry has led to monumental growth and development for Wichita, Kansas, and the nation.

“Through his seat on the Commerce, Science and Transportation and Appropriations Committees, the Senator has forged meaningful connections with leaders in the Department of Defense and global aerospace industry. And he shamelessly leverages these important connections to increase visibility and knowledge of the unique size, strength, capabilities and expertise of the Wichita and Kansas aerospace industry.”

He went on to say, “Sen. Moran is a visionary. He has the incredible ability to maximize current opportunities while continuing to create new ones for the future. Most recently, he helped Wichita secure a direct flight to Washington D.C. He continues to identify and successfully pursue opportunities to diversify the aerospace industry and strengthen our already robust supply chain. He recognizes how investments in workforce development fuel future growth. He understands our community’s capacity to globally compete in the next frontier of space. Sen. Moran is a champion for aerospace, for Wichita, and for all of Kansas.”

Rather than a traditional speech given by the trophy recipient, Sen. Moran had a fireside chat with Dr. Tomblin and Lynn Nichols, retired chairman and CEO, board member of Yingling Aviation and 2017 WAC trophy recipient. A truly enjoyable experience for the crowd. The proverbial cherry on top of the evening was that the event raised $50,000 in proceeds for STEAM initiatives within the community.

L to R: U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, Lynn Nichols and Dr. John Tomblin during the fireside chat.

About the WAC Gala

The WAC trophy is awarded each year to a living person or organization with a strong relationship to the greater Wichita area, with exemplary achievements and contributions in the field of aviation and/or aerospace. The gala is an opportunity to publicly celebrate the trophy recipient and raise money for the scholarship fund.

WAC Recipients

The complete list of previous winners starting in 2010 include: Velma Wallace, Jeff Turner, John O’Leary, Russ Meyer, Al Higdon, Doc’s Friends and Volunteers, Paul Bowen, Lynn Nichols, Jack Pelton, Clay Lacy, Ron Ryan, and Dr. John Tomblin.

WAC Trophy Recipients Over the Years (L to R): Dr. John Tomblin, Al Higdon, Paul Bowen, Sen. Jerry Moran, Ron Ryan, Jeff Turner, and Lynn Nichols.

Photo credit: Darin LaCrone | VMG LLC