By Ashley Bowen Cook, vice president at Greteman Group, a marketing communications agency based in Wichita, the Air Capital.

If you haven’t attended a National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) regional forum, do yourself a favor. Go. Sonia Greteman and I just attended the forum in White Plains, NY. The Westchester County Airport (HPN). Once again, it was a great experience.

Like the big annual conventions, these get-togethers provide a platform for expanding attendees’ knowledge about everything from cybersecurity to safety initiatives. Where they really stand out, though, is as a dedicated opportunity for networking. Because they’re smaller, you have less ground to cover. The mood is more relaxed and everyone wants to talk. Since it’s a one-day event, energy levels run high.

The Next Generation of Business Aviation

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen kicked off the opening session by talking about our industry’s pervasive sense of optimism and how we galvanized as a community against air traffic control (ATC) privatization. He spoke about his and NBAA’s commitment to growing the business aviation workforce, promoting safety and enhancing professionalism. He was especially passionate about doing better recruiting young people into business aviation.

ed bolen nbaa regional white plains
NBAA President Ed Bolen speaks at the Regional in White Plains, New York.

“We need to do more and we are committed to doing that,” Bolen said.

NBAA’s second forum of 2018 drew 190 exhibitors, 2,700 attendees and aircraft ranging from single-engine pistons to ultra-long-range business jets. On the static, potential aircraft buyers can compare the latest business aircraft side by side in one convenient location. We kicked the tires on some of our personal favorites: the Bombardier Global 6000, Dassault 8X, Embraer 300E and HondaJet. Rather than an exhibit hall, a chalet on the Westchester County Airport property was filled with 10’x10’ booths for attendees to easily check out products and services, catch up and get the latest news.

Agency President and Creative Director Sonia Greteman stands in front of a Leonardo helicopter at the NBAA Regional in White Plains, New York.

A History of Innovation

Sonia was fascinated by Leonardo’s latest-generation AW109SP GrandNew light-twin helicopter. It includes a digital glass cockpit, composite material fuselage and cutting-edge global navigation satellite system. The eight-seat AW109SP serves a number of business-aviation uses including light transport, medevac, and search and rescue. Its advanced avionics help reduce pilot workload and enable the use of night-vision goggles.

A Showcase for New Products

Clay Lacy Aviation’s debut of the new Quest Kodiak 100 Series II turned our heads – and many others. Its amphibious floats made us want to head to the nearest lake or river. With 10 seats, you could have come along, too.

Forum networking isn’t just about developing sales leads or reinforcing existing client relationships, although that is a big part of it. It’s also about coming together as a community in support of business aviation’s role in job generation and as an engine for economic activity.

Clay Lacy Aviation’s new Quest Kodiak 100 Series II on static display at the NBAA Regional in White Plains, New York.

Upcoming NBAA Events

The next NBAA regional forum will be at the San Jose (CA) International Airport (SJC) Sept. 6. See you there? Of course, I know you wouldn’t dream of missing NBAA-BACE, which will be Oct. 16-18 in Orlando. With 25,000 attendees and 1,100+ exhibitors, it’s just a bit harder to run into each other than at the forums. But, let’s try.

This article first ran in the June 28, 2018, issue of BlueSky News. 

Designed for low noise and low vibration, the AW109SP GrandNew offers best-in-class performance. I’ll tip my hat to that.