Deals were made. Relationships, strengthened. Educational sessions, attended. Advanced technologies, debuted. The 2018 National Business Aviation Association’s Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) is always good for business. Yet, more than ever, NBAA 2018 boosted more than the bottom line. It ignited imaginations and elevated spirits.

Discarding Assumptions to Rise Higher

bertrand piccard delivers nbaa 2018 keynote

Clean-energies proponent and aviation innovator Bertrand Piccard captivated us with his keynote message. Piccard and Brian Jones made the first-ever nonstop flight around the world in a balloon, the Breitling Orbiter 3, in 1999. It took them 20 days and almost 8,000 pounds of fuel. Then he and copilot Andre Borschberg circumnavigated the globe in a glider, the Solar Impulse, in 2016. They flew 40,000 km without a drop of fuel. Solar energy powered the glider’s four electric motors and their propellers without polluting emissions or noise.

Piccard said there was a moment when he thought, “This is science fiction, I’m in the future,” then realized, “No, I’m in the present. This is what the technologies of today already allow me to do. The rest of the world was in the past.”

The experts said it couldn’t be done, so he turned to outsiders for funding and glider design. “the people who made the best candles did not invent the lightbulb,” he said. “You have to go through moments of frustration and humiliation when you’re doing something never done before. … The only people to laugh are the people who do not try.”

Changing minds and shifting paradigms is like flying a balloon, he said. In order to climb, you must drop ballast or weight. “Innovation comes when you throw away an old belief,” he said. Piccard predicts that electric airplanes will be flying up to 50 passengers by 2026. “The countdown has started.”

Hard-Earned Recognition – 75 Years Later

Wichita’s Russ Meyer presented NBAA’s Meritorious Service to Aviation Award to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). WASP granddaughter Erin Miller accepted the award. After her grandmother Elaine Harmon’s wish to be buried at Arlington was denied, in 2016 Miller spearheaded legislation that secures inurnment rights at Arlington National Cemetery.

WASPs presented NBAA 2018 Meritorious Service to Aviation Award to the Women Airforce Service Pilots

The WASP organization, founded in 1943, helped the United States fill the need for more pilots. WASP flew every aircraft the Army had. They ferried planes, towed gunnery targets, transported equipment and personnel and flight-tested aircraft. More than 1,100 WASP served at more than 120 bases and flew more than 60 million miles before the program was suspended in December 1944. Thirty-eight WASP lost their lives and one disappeared on a ferry mission.

As civil service employees, WASP didn’t qualify for military benefits. Members personally paid for their own dress uniforms, room and board and transportation to training. WASP records were classified and sealed for 35 years, masking these women’s wartime contributions. After lobbying efforts, in 1977 the records were unsealed and veteran status granted to WASP members. Today, there are roughly 40 surviving WASP. The three who attended the NBAA 2018 presentation – dressed in uniform – earned a standing ovation.

These women showed they had the right stuff when times called for their service. As we work to encourage more men and women to consider careers in aviation, it’s good to recall those who came before. And to let them inspire future generations.

This column originally ran in the Oct. 25, 2018, issue of BlueSky News.

sonia greteman stands in front of nbaa 2018 entrance
NBAA 2018 drew roughly 1,000 exhibitors and 25,000 industry professionals from Oct. 16-18 at the Orange County Convention Center and Orlando Executive Airport.


flightsafety remembers bruce whitman at nbaa 2018
David Davenport and Ray Johns, who will serve as co-CEOs of FlightSafety International, led the celebration for Bruce Whitman, who joined the company in 1961 and built it into the training leader it is today. Other longtime friends who spoke included Aviation Week Editor-in-Chief William Garvey, Aviation International News Publisher Wilson Leech, Dassault Falcon CEO John Rosanvallon and Gulfstream President Mark Burns.


usaig paul ratte and sonia greteman talk at nbaa 2018
USAIG’s Paul Ratte and Sonia Greteman talk about the successes of the safety posters that run in Aviation International News and online.


king aerospace pictured with ge aviation after signing ge on point service center agreement
King Aerospace Commercial Corporation and GE Aviation finalized a deal making King a GE OnPoint™ service center, a nice bit of timing for King as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. The multiyear agreement includes aircraft engine maintenance and repair for CFM56-7B-powered BBJs.


wichita aero club president dave franson announces 2019 gala honoree as eaa ceo jack pelton
Wichita Aero Club President Dave Franson announced the 2019 gala honoree will be Experimental Aircraft Association CEO and former Cessna CEO Jack Pelton. Equally smile inducing, the January event will be held in the sparkling-new hangar for the fully restored, beloved B-29 Superfortress known as Doc.


dreams soar founder shaesta waiz honored as nbaa 2018 40 under 40
NBAA’s inaugural class of Business Aviation Top 40 Under 40 included Dreams Soar founder Shaesta Waiz, the youngest woman to solo around the world in a single-engine aircraft. Waiz recently shared her pro-aviation, STEM message to Wichita schoolchildren and industry professionals. Congrats to all these up and comers, many of whom have already achieved at a very high level.


nbaa 2018 static display
Sonia Greteman and Ashley Bowen Cook were especially taken with this Airbus EC130 T2. With room for up to seven passengers, it could have transported all of our team attending NBAA 2018.


nbaa 2018 bbj boeing business jet cutaway
This Boeing Business Jet cutaway at NBAA 2018 meticulously recreates the luxurious interior.

See all of Greteman Group’s photos in our NBAA Facebook album.