AIN Blog: Brazil Is Aviation
Last week the Associação Brasileira de Aviação Geral, better known as ABAG, sponsored the eighth annual Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (Labace) in São Paulo. This was my fifth consecutive show. I never tire of it, and I will be back. That’s partly because Labace is aviation, but also because it is uniquely Brazilian. For the first two days of the three-day show, Labace (which the locals pronounce “lah-BAH-sah”) opens at noon and doesn’t close until 10 p.m. There are crowds to the last and business meetings run well into the evening. For as much as Brazilians are of the sun, they are also of the evening. An invitation-only party with live music at the Bombardier chalet began at 7 p.m. and was still rolling along briskly at 9 p.m. At the Airbus chalet, the line waiting to see the interior of the first ACJ318 to appear at Labace was 20-deep at 6 p.m. It grew longer as visitors followed an enthusiastic line of drummers and dancers from Casa de Cultura e Cidadania, a music and dance school for children, through the Labace static display to where the big, white twinjet was parked. Here, too, was there no lack of music, food or “caipirinhas.” A word of caution about caipirinhas. The main ingredient is cachaça, a sugar-cane distillation that would probably be an excellent aircraft biofuel but happens also to make a deliciously evil drink. Brazil has a long and fascinating aviation history, from Alberto Santos-Dumont, who made the first verified flight of a powered, heavier-than-air machine in Europe in 1906, to aircraft manufacturer Embraer today. It was with a chuckle that a Brazilian friend informed me that in Brazil, a pretty girl may be referred to as an avião, or aeroplane. And in a popular children’s cartoon, a small boy refers to the little girl who is his friend as teco-teco, which happens represent the sound of a small piston-engine airplane. While Labace is typically Brazilian, dinner after the show is no less so and frequently goes late into the evening. Saturday often features feijoada, a traditional meal with its heart in the days of slavery. The buffet style meal typically consists of perhaps a dozen pork dishes, most from the lesser cuts (lips, nose, ears and feet), as it would have been in those darker times. But for less adventurous diners, there are also sausages and pork chops. On the side are collard greens, rice, black beans, red beans, fried manioc and fried bananas. No, it is not “heart-healthy.” It is delicious! But when all is said, it is the Brazilian people that make Labace unique among business aviation trade shows. In some cultures, human contact is pro forma. In Brazil, and in particular São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, a hug is not merely a greeting, but an expression of joy at the renewal of a friendship. It is not uncommon for Brazilians to use a touch, or a light caress to make a point. This is the heart of Brazil–the warmth of its people. Now, the big tent in São Paulo has been folded and plans are already being made for Labace 2012. There will be more aircraft and manufacturers, parts suppliers, service centers, fuel providers and FBO representatives, maintenance and overhaul facilities, ground handling specialists, avionics suppliers and completion centers. And again, agreements will be made and contracts signed and there will be announcements of expansions and acquisitions. This is Labace. And it is in that most marvelous of places. Brazil.