Aviation Writing: Utilizing your aviation experience through communication

Aviation Writing Utilizing your aviation experience through communication By Michelle Garetson August 2000 How do you feel about aviation news that is presented on TV or radio or in print? Do you think that the reporting is accurate...

"We're claiming that we're 'one-of-a-kind' in that we combine the communication core with technical requirements," says Fogle. "What makes it different is that we expect our graduates to leave here with a fundamental understanding of aviation. I have an example of one student who transferred from Aeronautical Science. He knows how airplanes fly and he knows when he reads a news story whether it's right or not. What the folks out in the world are telling us is that they can get people who can write the press releases or who can do the communications end of it, but they don't know the aviation part."

Industry experts

Maybe after receiving your Charles Taylor Master Mechanic award, you will consider writing down your experiences in aviation to preserve the knowledge gained over your career. Or, you may want to communicate to others in the field about a procedure or a product that has greatly enhanced your efficiency. You may even have a bit of journalistic curiosity under your skin regarding regulations or regulatory bodies to want to explain to the layperson what it really means and how it affects them.

Most technicians would rather have a wrench in their hand than a pen, but there are those who could probably work well with both. If you have expertise in a procedure or aircraft system, why not write about it?

Aircraft Maintenance Technology's success is due largely in part to the industry experts who consistently present the critical issues facing aircraft technicians. The columnists are not journalists. Most of them are, or were, aircraft technicians or have worked in other sectors of the industry. They are able to communicate to the readers because their concerns often mirror the readers concerns and therein lies the connection.

AMT's Editor-in-Chief, Greg Napert, an A&P who has worked in general aviation, commuter airlines, and corporate aviation, began his aviation journalism career while studying aviation engineering. Napert had always been interested in writing (a good test to see if you really want to pursue this vein). He answered a want ad for "Aviation Writer" and took a part-time job with a publisher who had won an aviation contract to write Beechcraft manuals.

A few years later, he saw the words "Aviation Writer" again in the newspaper, which turned out to be AMT. The rest, as they say, is history. Even after more than a decade with the magazine, Napert still feels the job challenges him as it incorporates his love of aviation and technical information with his interest in writing.

Whatever the case, if you want to communicate and share your knowledge, today is the best day to start.

Where to start

Unfortunately, new writers often face a Catch-22 situation with, "You can't get published without already being published." Often, a publication requires the writer to send previously published work along with the new submission. So who's going to print your first piece?

Constance Bovier, an aviation writer who has been published in several aviation publications, offers the following advice to those who want to try their hand at writing.

Bovier's background in aviation began when she was enlisted in the Air Force in the 1960s. After her military experience and 12 years spent raising a family, she began her writing career while working for an advertising agency writing copy for products and services. The agency received a contract from Mitsubishi Aircraft and, capitalizing on Bovier's fascination with aviation, gave the assignment to her. She began writing copy for the MU-2 aircraft and the introduction of the Diamond I corporate jet.

Bovier built up an extensive aviation portfolio with the Mitsubishi contract, and by later receiving assignments as a freelancer from companies such as Gulfstream Aircraft and SimuFlite Training.

Your portfolio could be established through writing for your company newsletter, or you could start one if none exists. You may also offer to help with promotional pieces or technical manuals for your operations.

Fame or fortune

Bovier's first article was published in a Canadian aviation magazine on the topic of Canadians coming to SimuFlite in Texas for training.

She was paid for the piece but says that she has been paid more for advertising materials she produced than for articles she has written.

"You can have either the excitement of seeing your name in print in trade magazines as well as the feedback from your readers," says Bovier, "or you can get a sizeable fee from producing advertising or company-sponsored materials without the byline. You can't always get fame and fortune in writing."

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