Day One Keynote Session Kicks Off 2019 NBAA-BACE in Thrilling Style
Oct. 22, 2019
A captivating indoor aerial drone light show kicked off the Day 1 Keynote at a future-focused 2019 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) in Las Vegas, setting the stage for a show unlike any of the association’s previous gatherings and establishing the new look, new feel and new energy for business aviation’s premier event.
“We think this will be the most significant convention we’ve ever had the honor to host,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen in welcoming a packed audience. “NBAA conventions are a reflection of the world around them, and they’re also a peek into the future. And if you look around, you can see the present and the future all combined. Good things are happening.”
Ross Perot, Jr.
Pilot, businessman and aviation champion Ross Perot, Jr., recipient of NBAA’s Meritorious Service to Aviation Award, told attendees of his many accomplishments in the aviation and business communities, including a 30-day trip around the world in a Bell single-turbine helicopter, his service in the U.S. Air Force and work to establish Alliance Airport (AFW) near Fort Worth, TX and his current role in leading the charge toward urban air mobility (UAM) through his partnership with Uber Elevate.
“Ed, I want to thank you and your team for providing this venue for us to get together,” Perot said. “Continue to have courage and continue to push this beautiful dream of aviation and mobility. I really feel that we’re just warming up as a society and a country.”
Bolen also welcomed tech entrepreneur and Earthlink founder Sky Dayton, who has continued to help build companies that have propelled the internet and other exciting technologies into our everyday lives, most recently as an investor in UAM developer Joby Aviation.
“Over a billion people spend an hour a day in traffic or more, and we can’t solve that by just adding more lanes. We need to go up,” he said. “We’re kind of uniquely positioned in the United States to be able to do this because we start with a strong infrastructure of general aviation airports.”
Walmart Director Steuart L. Walton, founder and chairman of aerobatic aircraft manufacturer Game Composites, who last year also led an effort to open a 22,000 square foot aviation hub at Thaden Field (VBT) in Bentonville, AR, told the audience of the importance of aviation not only to the Walton family and the success of the global retail giant, but to him individually.
“I’m one of the countless beneficiaries of the aviation industry both personally and professionally,” Walton said. “The aviation industry must continue to serve businesses, individuals and communities. Aviation innovations throughout the 20th century have greatly impacted these three constituencies all over the world, and it’s going to take that same innovative spirit to fuel the industry’s impact on the next generation.”
The event concluded with an energetic presentation by Day 1 Keynote speaker Earvin “Magic” Johnson. The basketball superstar, accomplished entrepreneur and humanitarian fired up attendees by mingling with the crowd and joking about his 6’9” stature as he described the importance of business aviation throughout his storied career.
“This plane has put years on my life for almost 20 years now,” Johnson said of his Gulfstream GIII. “The things I can accomplish now, I never could without it. I’ve been on the road 200 days a year, so I need that airplane to take me to multiple cities for my appearances and meetings. When you think about efficiency, the things that it’s meant to me as a businessman and for getting me back faster to my family – it’s been a blessing owning that aircraft.”
Johnson also acknowledged those who helped him develop from an accomplished college athlete into a three-time MVP who played in nine National Basketball Association (NBA) finals, and later a successful businessman. “I wouldn’t have made it to the NBA without mentors,” he said. “When I think about now in business, the same disciplines that I had as a basketball player are the same disciplines I have now as a CEO. I love to overdeliver to my customers… and, I’m competitive as hell. I hate to lose!”
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