DESPITE POOR WEATHER, ATTENDANCE CONTINUES TO TREND UP
Although much of the country has experienced unusually poor weather during the first two months of the 2009 air show season, the initial trend toward higher attendance has continued throughout the country. MCAS Beaufort (5/16-17) in South Carolina had heavy rain on Sunday, but near record crowds on Saturday. On the same weekend, the Joint Services Open House at Andrews AFB in Maryland had threatening weather all weekend, but still welcomed huge crowds. This past weekend, the New York Air Show at Jones Beach and the NAS Patuxent River Air Show in Maryland were the latest ICAS member shows to welcome record or near-record crowds.
And the media is paying attention to the increased popularity of air shows during these difficult economic times. Last Saturday, the Los Angeles Times ran a story on the front page of its business section entitled, “Air shows deliver adrenaline without bleeding family budgets” with this subhead: “Attendance soars as families seek more bang for the buck.” (Click here to read the full story: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-airshow23-2009may23,0,880657.story.) The product of a national public relations effort initiated by ICAS last month, the story was subsequently picked up by a wide range of newspaper websites, ranging from USA Today to the Chicago Tribune and New York Times.
“Weather-wise, we’ve had bad luck during the first several weeks of the season, particularly on the east coast. But the large crowds – sometimes in spite of that poor weather – have been encouraging,” said ICAS President John Cudahy. “As an industry, the challenge that we face now is to turn these larger crowds of first-timers into dedicated air show fans who attend our events year after year.”
2009 CONVENTION INFORMATION UPDATED ON ICAS WEBSITE
The 2009 ICAS Convention is less than seven months away and ICAS is encouraging members to begin making plans to attend this year’s event by checking out the preliminary details for this year’s convention on the ICAS website at http://www.airshows.aero/Page/Convention.
“Our entire industry will be experiencing an unusually large number of changes during the next 12-18 months,” says ICAS President John Cudahy. “The current economic downturn is creating both challenges and opportunities for air show professionals. To meet those challenges and take advantage of the opportunities, it’s more important than ever that ICAS members make time in their schedule to participate in this year’s most important air show business meeting.”
ICAS wants to help you reduce the cost of participating in this year’s ICAS Convention. The very best prices are available to those who take action early. So don’t procrastinate on this one. Start making your plans today and ensure that you get the lowest possible prices and the largest number of options on everything from convention registration and booth fees to airline tickets and hotel rooms.
For the tentative schedule for the 2009 ICAS Convention, click on this link: http://www.airshows.aero/Page/Convention-TentativeSchedule.
ICAS offers heavy discounts to members who register for the convention early. To get the lowest possible rate, click on this link (http://www.airshows.aero/Page/Convention-Registration) and register today.
ICAS has streamlined the process of reserving a hotel room at our convention host hotel. To make your sleeping room reservation at the discounted rate of $117 per night, follow the prompts after you click on this link: http://www.airshows.aero/Page/Convention-Hotel.
Well-positioned booths on the trade show floor are still available. But past history tells us that the very best booths will be scooped up during the next several weeks. If you have not yet reserved your booth, you can do so by clicking on this link: http://www.airshows.aero/Page/Convention-Exhibit.
GOULIAN SIGNS WITH FSG
ICAS member and air show performer Michael Goulian recently announced that he has selected Fenway Sports Group (FSG), a leading sports and entertainment marketing firm, as his exclusive third party sales and marketing agency. Under the terms of the agreement, Goulian will work hand-in-hand with FSG to develop programs that leverage Michael’s vast array of marketing assets, provide comprehensive sponsorship analysis and valuation services, identify new revenue streams, maximize existing sponsorship assets, and cultivate and secure new corporate partnerships.
Based in Boston, FSG is one of the nation’s leading sports marketing agencies. FSG’s parent organization owns and operates the Boston Red Sox, and is 50 percent owner in Roush Fenway Racing, which owns and operates six teams in NASCAR under the direction of Jack Roush. In addition, FSG also handles the marketing and sponsorship program for Robert Yates Racing, another well-known and successful NASCAR organization.
Goulian becomes the first air show performer to establish this type of partnership with a powerhouse sports marketing agency like FSG. Goulian and FSG have announced that their goal is to lead the way into a new era of more sophisticated and more effective use of air shows and air sports as a corporate marketing tool.
FOLSTAD UNHURT IN STEARMAN CRASH
ICAS member and air show performer Hartley Folstad was unhurt in an accident on Monday, May 18 that destroyed his Stearman biplane. Folstad was flying near Joshua Tree, California when his aircraft caught fire. According to media reports, after landing, Folstad exited the aircraft shortly before it became completely engulfed in flame. Hartley escaped without injury, but the Stearman was completely destroyed.
UMASS PROVIDES ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY TO GREAT NEW ENGLAND AIR SHOW
Recently, the Great New England Air Show became the beneficiary of a comprehensive research report on the economic impact generated by the event. The report estimates that the total impact of the show on the local economy exceeds $13.5 million. Perhaps more importantly, more than $8 million of that impact was generated by air show spectators from outside the community in which the event is held.
The research found that the bulk of the impact was generated through transportation and refreshment/food purchases made before or after the event. The study also found that the “average” group attending the 2008 air show consisted of four individuals (including children), that the visitors traveled an average of 45 miles to attend the air show, and that 30 percent chose to attend the event as a source of family entertainment. Approximately 61 percent of attendees were from outside the local area. On average, each group spent approximately $98 in the local community.
Overall satisfaction with the event was high (77 percent were satisfied or very satisfied). But parking and traffic were major concerns for the visitors surveyed. The report also included nine specific recommendations for improving future events.
Two University of Massachusetts graduate students working under the auspices of experienced faculty members in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management conducted the research which was jointly commissioned by the Chicopee Galaxy Community Council and the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Randy Babbitt as the new Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. A former airline pilot, ALPA officer and aviation consultant, he moves into the FAA’s top post during a particularly challenging time. His nomination was broadly supported by most of the trade associations and unions working within the U.S. aviation industry.
AN OUTSIDER’S LOOK AT AIR SHOW LIABILITY
Jessica McCausland is a trial attorney for the Civil Torts Branch of the U.S. Department of Justice. Last year, she delivered a presentation on air show accident liability during an aviation law symposium at Southern Methodist University. Her seven-page paper (click here to download a copy: http://www.airshows.aero/docs/Beyond%20Catastrophic%20Collisions.pdf) touches on a number of different air show liability issues during the last half-century.
From accidents and professional disagreements to problems in air show parking lots and volunteer liability, Ms. McCausland provides ICAS members and other air show professionals with an overview of possible sources of liability exposure. Her lack of familiarity with the air show business has sometimes caused her to miss the subtleties of some issues within our industry and, on a couple of occasions, mischaracterize non-air show problems as air show liability issues. But it is, nonetheless, an interesting and useful perspective from an outsider looking at some of the legal challenges facing our business.
AUTOGRAPH TENT AS VALUE ADDED BENEFIT
It’s such a common story in the air show industry that it’s practically cliché. Performers call or write to the event organizer expressing a willingness – even eagerness -- to sign autographs for spectators before or after they perform. The event organizer thinks that’s a good idea and commits to having a schedule, a simple promotional plan and a tent in which to do the actual autographing. But, in the chaos that surrounds final preparations for the show, the autograph tent idea falls between the cracks.
And it’s too bad. The spectators miss an opportunity to meet and talk with the pilots. And our whole industry misses a chance to personalize our business and put the enthusiasm of our performers to work promoting the air show industry.
Decide right now that you’re not going to miss that opportunity this year. Identify a resourceful self-starter from among your volunteers. Let him/her know what you’re doing and then turn him/her loose. For your spectators, this is a tangible benefit that distinguishes air show pilots from other professional athletes. For our industry, this kind of program helps create awareness of and familiarity with our performers. It’s a classic win/win for everybody involved.
FRENCH, BRITISH JET TEAMS WELCOME FIRST FEMALE PILOTS
Both the French and British military jet teams have welcomed their first female pilots onto their teams this year.
Commandant Virginie Guyot will be flight lead for the French Patrouille de France beginning next year. As is tradition with the French military jet team, she is flying the number 4 position this year in preparation for taking over as lead next year.
Flight Lieutenant Kristy Moore will join the Red Arrows Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 air show seasons. She will join the team in September to begin training. Moore joined the RAF as a pilot in 1998. She is currently flying the Tornado GR4, a two-seat attack aircraft.
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