Think of all the interesting and knowledgeable people who populate (and have populated) this industry ...
I’ve met a bunch. Start naming names and I run the risk of not naming names. Bill Cutter; Joe Culler; Bob Showalter; Tom Comeau; James Wilding; David Plavin; John Tucker; Garth Atkinson; Scott Crossfield; Chuck Yeager; Paul Poberezny, Dean Harton; Ed Stimpson; Gina Marie Lindsey ...
Ok, this could be an entire column of names and still have its shortcomings (for not being long enough).
The main point here is that working in this industry affords the opportunity to meet a host of significant people, be they in aviation or users of aviation. There’s Mel Gibson’s Gulfstream on the ramp at Billings; just ran into Michael Keaton in a hallway at the Signature facility at DCA; spoke with John Travolta on the Qantas A-380 inaugural flight at LAX.
Or ... walking the aisles of the NBAA convention floor during set-up I pass a guy setting up a software booth who strikes me as looking a lot like Neil Armstrong. Naw; I keep walking.
Then I think, he looks too much like Neil Armstrong. As a 1960s space race junkie who has the front page newspaper of every launch from Mercury to the Space Shuttle, I stop and backtrack. We talk; it’s him. I’m in awe, and he’s a very regular guy.
Fast forward to another NBAA where he’s the featured guest at a reception by AMR Combs, the former Combs-Gates that is now a part of Signature. A long-time industry friend, Dan Bryant, was in marketing for AMR Combs then (today he’s the GM at TAC Air Denver), and a group of us decided we would corner Neil during the reception to ask him ‘The Question’.
We waited for a moment when he was temporarily alone and then swarmed like a small group of bees around him. Since this was Danny’s gig, he got to ask ... “So, Neil, what was it like?”
“Imagine the most incredible thing you could ever imagine experiencing in your life ...” was the answer, followed by silence. Then, after a long pause that indicated he’d fulfilled our expectations, he added: “It was a helluva lot better than that.” A genuine man relating an unreal experience.
It truly is an industry of moments … 25 years of them and counting.
* * *
Another interesting person and again a very good guy, Dave Sclair, passed away recently. Dave founded General Aviation News, flew around in a funky pink and gray airplane (the newspaper’s colors), and promoted the heck out of this industry. Hope you got ramp duty in the afterlife, Dave.
Thanks for reading.
Armstrong was a long-time business aviation pilot who set five world records for business jets, including the highest altitude flown in a business jet, a record set on February 21, 1979.
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