AvWeek’s Biz Av Lady on Vacation

By Robert Mark on July 17th, 2009

My thanks to AvWeek’s Benet Wilson for allowing me a little space on her blog while she was out on vacation. I’ll try and coax her to write something for Jetwhine.

Rob

AvWeek Jetwhine

GUEST POST: Business Aviation Is Still a Secret

Posted by Benet Wilson at 7/17/2009 10:14 AM CDT

Editor’s Note: On the last day of my vacation, we end the week with our good friend Rob Mark, editor of the award-winning aviation blog Jetwhine.com. He was recently named the Aerospace Journalist of the Year for business aviation at the 2009 Paris Air Show. Mark is a contributing editor to Aviation International News and Business Jet Traveler and co-host of the popular aviation podcast, Airplane Geeks..

In what little spare time he has left, Rob serves as CEO of CommAvia, an Evanston-IL based marketing communications agency focused on the aviation industry. He’s also an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

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Despite plenty of publicity in the past 9 months – most of it bad – than any single industry wants or needs in a lifetime, the true nature of business aviation remains a mystery to most people outside our industry.

Sure, there are a few individuals and organizations working together – like NBAA’s Ed Bolen and LaBov and Beyond’s Barry LaBov on Fox the other day – to nourish the true story of business and general aviation’s importance, not only as a viable method of transportation, but also as an authentic job machine like the one needed to put America back on the road to a working economic recovery.

On my part, I was lucky enough to win an award in Paris last month for a story about what the dum-dums from the auto manufacturers (notice no one calls them Big Three any longer) should have said to the press about their use of business airplanes to visit Congress. Let’s face it though. Taking that big iron to DC looked wasteful to most of us. Is it any wonder people quickly tagged biz av as the poster child for excess at a time when tens of thousands of average folks were losing their jobs?

We really have our public relations work cut out for us. But just when we need the people who effectively use business airplanes to speak up the most, they’ve gone even further underground than their normal low profile.

That makes us all look bad because it makes us look guilty, as if the critics were right all along.

Public relations is seldom about reality, but more about how things appear. And right now, thousands of people hiding even lower in the weeds than business aviation users have traditionally is making a bad situation worse.

So thanks for your efforts Ed and Barry and too all of those other people trying to make a good case for business aviation to the mainstream media.

But I think it’s time the rest of us stopped preaching to the choir. We also need to stop assuming that paying dies to NBAA, or AOPA or EAA means we can wash our hands of responsibility for our industry.

Rather than talking to aviation magazines and people at aviation conferences and other places where true airplane geeks hide out, it is time we took our case to the influencers … and I don’t mean the politicians. I mean the finance people at companies, those bean counters we always accuse of being the devil incarnate when it comes to airplanes.

Barry LaBov told me the other day that his controller tried to talk him out of their airplane. After a discussion based in facts, and not simply an emotional need to cut something that appears expensive on the surface, the controller gave their airplane the green light.

By all means, keep telling reporters the real story behind business airplanes and keep encouraging folks like Ed and Barry to go out and fight our battles for us since most aircraft owners are such cowards about their aircraft-related activities. But let’s begin getting out in our communities and talking to the chambers of commerce and the Rotary clubs where people who can really affect our future hide out.

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