A Corporate Aviation Convention Came To Town
I usually avoid aviation conventions at all costs, but I live in Las Vegas and last year there was an aviation convention here. Out of curiosity and a convenient accident of location I decided to go.
I coughed up the decidedly overpriced ticket and off I went.
As I entered the doors of the great hall of aviation worship, I was overwhelmed by all the aviation stuff. Right away there were mock ups of airplanes that couldn’t fly any more than the executives who were try trying to sell them.
From the great doors of the hall, it was a sight to behold…thousands of people in black or blue suits with little gold lapel pins. They all had plastic ID badges dangling around their necks, entwined with their red neckties, as they scurried around at high speed, dragging shiny black briefcases behind them. As they dashed from one venue to another it was dizzying to watch…shaking hands, talking a mile a minute, swapping cards, and then buzzing off to the next waiting hands to shake. No time to waste talking airplanes.
Others traveled in lumbering packs. Their corporate uniforms made them look like blue-black blocks of wandering nomads following their chief. The tribe would nod in approval at every comment the chief made, but only the chief spoke.
I wanted to know who these very important looking people were. What was so important? What were their qualifications to be in the great hall of aviation?
Eventually I found myself talking to one of these people so I asked, “Who do you fly for?” This person said he did not fly but assured me he was a “great executive” in the tribe of Rockwell. He was selling some kind of secret decoder ring doohickey.
I asked the great executive what that was. He immediately spit out a jumble of initials and numbers which he identified as his product, “The Ace of the Base Decoder Ringy Thingy”. He went into his black shiny briefcase and pulled out beautiful brochures and his very fancy business card.
Since brochures and business cards do not impress me, I kept right on asking him questions. What did their magic decoder ring actually do? He really got going reciting his full script and eventually I found out that for a whole lot of money I would know exactly what altitude I was at, at any time. That information would be send back to a special place, and I would be a safer “dude” because of it. WTF is a “dude”?
I asked this mighty executive how their magic star powered decoder ring altimeter would help my operating budget. Of course he had no idea what an operating budget was, so he said he would find out and call me, which is going to be difficult since I never gave him my number. So he lied, which came very naturally.
I talked to another group of important looking people gathered around their pavilion all resplendent in their corporate uniforms, red ties, plastic ID badges, and asked, “Who do you fly for?” Same answer…they did not fly. However, they sold powerful data collection gadgets, and data collection was something I absolutely had to have, or else I would die, “Dude”. They had no idea what they were talking about and it all sounded suspiciously like they just made this magic junk up to have something to sell to aviation dupes. I flew jets for years, and I never had, nor did I ever need, any data collection and I did not die “Dudes”. And all that data collection did not save Malaysia 370 did it? Like The Temptations might have sung in 1969, “Data Collection”, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!
I did meet a few real pilots there and I knew right away they were pilots because they were wearing polo shirts and slacks and did not have briefcases or neckties, and they did know who they flew for.
Out of the thousands of people at the great convention hall there were only few actual pilots. Apparently it is no longer a basic qualification to be a pilot to be an aviation expert. That explains a lot of the problems within the aviation community.
As I wandered around the halls of displays and whirring faux aviation people I began to figure out what I was witnessing. I was witnessing thousands of people chasing the same 200 hundred new aircraft being built. Theses ersatz aviation experts sold cabin environment systems (lighting), data links, sat com systems, and dust busters. But these people didn’t know a thing about aviation, they didn’t want to know a thing about aviation, and they have no use or respect for pilots. To them pilots are meat servos. To me these pretentious movers and shakers are carpetbaggers. And what they were selling was way too expensive for anything but a new $60 million dollar aircraft.
So my adventure confirmed what I always thought about aviation conventions. They are really expensive showcases for manufacturers toadies to display and sell useless and overpriced junk for overpriced aircraft to people who do not know anything about aircraft.
But I have to give the creators of the aviation convention credit. What an idea! Get a lot of people that know nothing about aviation together with a lot of other people that know nothing about aviation. Then get them to pay big bucks to impress each other in the great hall of aviation replete with symbols, altars, and idols. Then make sure they all have expensive plastic ID badges to hang around their necks to prove to each other that they are indeed aviation experts, sort of!
And when these men, these captains of the aviation industry all meet in the great hall in their corporate uniforms, shiny briefcases stuffed with brochures, and lapel pins shining in gold, let there be no doubt that these people must be great aviation warriors. And not just because they said so either!
After all, most of these aviation experts even made it to Las Vegas without puking into their Berluti shoes flying in the back of the airliners that got them here.
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