Anyone who’d planned to be in Orlando this week, feels a pang. COVID-19 shut down the National Business Aviation Association’s Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA BACE) – something that would have felt inconceivable a year ago. As the world awaits a vaccine, we’re all doing the best we can to create new ways to strengthen relationships, build new connections, make deals and move forward. That doesn’t mean we can’t also take a moment to look back. BACE has been our trade show of choice for decades. It’s where we’ve caught up with old friends and met new ones. Helped clients roll out new product announcements, hosted panel discussions and said goodbye to industry legends. Donned our glittery best for the Corporate Angel Network’s always-fabulous gala. Been inspired by the keynote addresses and presentations of everyone from Harrison Ford and Magic Johnson to Jetman Yves Rossy and clean-energies innovator Bertrand Piccard. NBAA BACE brings the industry together, ignites imaginations and elevates spirits. Take a moment to reflect with me, won’t you?

Living in the Air Capital has its advantages. We always have a friend willing to give us a sweet ride.

“Jetman” Yves Rossy’s jet-propelled wing was on display in the front lobby throughout last year’s show. A video screen beside it let you watch this Swiss fighter pilot turned human bird occupy the sky alongside jetliners. Seeing him outside your window would make you do a double take, would it not? Rossy took the crowd through his journey, which included many iterations before he hit the magic combination. His inspiration? Wile E. Coyote and the Acme rocket strapped to his back.

A key benefit of trade shows is in-person connections with awesome, industry-leading clients such as Clay Lacy Aviation. Pictured here with members of our team: Scott Cutshall, SVP business operations, and Dan Harris, director of business development. 

One of our favorite moments was when Wichita’s Russ Meyer presented NBAA’s Meritorious Service to Aviation Award to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). The three WASP who attended the 2018 presentation – dressed in uniform – earned a standing ovation. In WWII, 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. 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.

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, an A36 Bonanza. Waiz just published her first book, Fly, Girl, Fly! recounting her history-making experience.

The rumor mill had it that Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos checked out some aircraft at the 2018 static then went to two booths on the convention floor: Aerion and Terrafugia. Supersonic flight and a flying car or “roadable aircraft.” Both ends of the spectrum.

The industry joined in celebrating the life of FlightSafety International President 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 Leach, Dassault Falcon CEO John Rosanvallon and Gulfstream President Mark Burns.

Gulfstream is a brand we’ve always admired, and of course, Sonia was attracted by the big G.