For over a year, regional business aviation groups around the country faced the unanticipated reality of not being able to meet or hold events. Some groups, however, managed to make lemonade out of lemons, and all groups are determined to move forward.
“As a new group, the pandemic could not have hit at a worse time for us,” said Jenny Showalter, an officer of the Central Florida Business Aviation Association. “However, the board instantly jumped on the opportunity to adopt virtual board meetings, monthly Zoom happy hours, an online safety day event and a monthly webinar speaker series featuring industry leaders. They also made the crucial decision to open these events to everyone, making them free for all attendees. This access helped add many new members who might not have discovered CFBAA otherwise.”
Showalter noted that CFBAA successfully held an in-person BBQ event in January. “COVID safety protocols were in place such as sign-in sheets with waivers, masks, hand sanitizer, lots of space for social distancing, increased signage, meals served by the catering staff and standing-room-only around well-spaced high-top tables to discourage congregating.” The event attracted nearly 140 people, highlighting the strong desire to return safely to in-person events, noted Showalter.
Without the ability to meet outside, other groups for the most part went virtual.
“We took our monthly board meetings virtual and worked on creative ways to stay connected with our members and continue providing educational content.”
Ashley Charnley Chair, Georgia Business Aviation Association
“We took our monthly board meetings virtual and worked on creative ways to stay connected with our members and continue providing educational content,” said Ashley Charnley, chair of the Georgia Business Aviation Association. “We hosted a virtual safety day last August, an outdoor static event in the late fall, and a virtual IA renewal in March.” However, the group held its annual golf outing in person in April.
Russ Arena, Massachusetts Business Aviation Association executive director, said, “We have had virtual board meetings and are working with the committees in preparation for good things to come. We want to hit the ground running when we can safely have in-person gatherings.” In recent months, the group has communicated through its newsletter and surveyed its members to get input for going forward.
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen participated in virtual events with a number of regional groups, helping to maintain engagement. Individual members everywhere continued to promote business aviation, such as the Greater Washington Business Aviation Association member who made a short video from the flight deck about career choices for a local school’s career day event.
Kentucky Group Helps Form Aviation Caucus
Be it aviation education, airports funding, safety enhancements or keeping tabs on government regulations, there isn’t much that affects aviation in the Bluegrass State that the Kentucky Aviation Association (KAA) hasn’t been involved with. And even though the COVID-19 pandemic forced the group to cancel several of its annual events, the KAA board and members have been anything but idle.
“The KAA board has been advocating for a legislative aerospace/aviation caucus for years, and in 2020 we were finally able to help facilitate its formation,” said long-time KAA Board Member Robert Riggs. “The first official meeting of the caucus was March 4, and it already includes nearly half of House and Senate members.”
KAA also was instrumental in advocating for legislation that helps Kentucky airports reduce the cost of annual financial reporting.
According to Riggs, one of the goals for the 2021 legislative session is to procure more funds for aviation, airports and aviation education in the state.
In addition to its annual airports conference, KAA also normally sponsors Aerospace/Aviation Day at the Kentucky capital. The group also supports the Aviation Museum of Kentucky and the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame event, held annually in October.