Later this morning I’ll hop on a train for my biennial pilgrimage to the Paris Air Show. Thanks to the tunnel beneath the Channel connecting the UK to the mainland of Europe, and the speedy Eurostar train, it is not a long or arduous journey–not least because it no longer involves having to endure one of London’s accursed airports. But in terms of the task that faces me–editing AIN’s show daily publications–it is the final leg of a very long journey. I’ve spent three quarters of my working life with AIN and before that I was on the air show circuit with other less august publications. For the past dozen or so years, I’ve had the enormous privilege of editing AIN’s show dailies.
Even in the age of instant, read-and-forget digital news, AIN takes these print publications for shows incredibly seriously (this is how our business started back in 1972). Of course we aspire to covering all the top news in real time via our digital outlets, but our readers tell us there is still real value in these hard-copy editions, available at the show site as the early birds are getting there to beat the traffic and often still taken back to homes and offices to study later. We aim to go beyond the immediate news, digging deeper to explain and illuminate the context and background to industry developments. This means starting work weeks ahead of each show, preparing in-depth feature articles, doing background interviews and gathering all the information and images we will need for each of our four packed issues in Paris.
I started work on our Paris 2011 editions back in March. Today is June 14 and I’ve still got a mountain to climb. Later today, I’ll join my production colleagues in Paris and tomorrow we’ll confront the many headaches involved in setting up a fully functioning print operation in our Le Bourget chalet. French bureaucracy all too often stands in our way, but we always prevail…sometimes by the skin of our teeth. By June 17, we’ll have a team of reporters and photographers crawling all over the vast Le Bourget site and across Paris itself gathering all the latest stories–trying to tease the real news out of the nooks and crannies where the industry PR machine tries to hide it. The coming weekend will be spent printing the early pages, ready for our first edition to hit the streets at dawn on the opening day of the show (June 20). This will be followed by three more daily issues. Only then comes the respite from a punishing work schedule for the AIN team, and perhaps a better sense of whether the aerospace industry is really in recovery. Perversely, I enjoy the relief of having another big show done for just an hour or two. Then comes the numbing sense of anti-climax and an eager desire to move onto the next one. There’s no business like (air) show business, as the old song goes.
My personal prediction is that this will be a vintage year for the Paris Air Show–packed with eagerly awaited new aircraft like Boeing’s 787 and 747-8. Like most of the industry, AIN is still drinking vin de table, but there is a real sense that the champagne could be just around the corner. Even if you can’t be in the French capital this coming week, you needn’t miss any of the excitement of the Paris Air Show. Keep coming back to www.ainonline.com for all the news. And why not follow my Paris odyssey on Twitter @AlcockAIN?
Bon salon, et a bientot.