Ever since long-time Heli-Expo attendees found out that this year’s show is taking place in Louisville, Ky., many have questioned why Helicopter Association International (HAI) chose this venue. After all, during last year’s show in Orlando, the East Coast came to a halt during one of the worst ice storms of the decade, and Louisville was caught in the edges of that storm.
But happily, all is working out well; the show’s exhibit halls open today after days of feverish preparation. All of the 55 helicopters that flew in last Friday and Saturday arrived without a hitch. And the Kentucky Exposition Center even built a real heliport just for HAI. That’s what I call accommodating.
For those who wondered what it would be like to hold Heli-Expo in Louisville, so far I’ve heard nothing but compliments, about the friendliness of the locals, the ease of working with the Exposition Center, the local restaurants and even the food prices, although local hotels could have dialed back the rate meter a tad instead of raising rates to big-city levels while we’re in town. The food in the exhibition hall is the best I’ve seen at any convention; on offer are tasty paninis, mouth-watering freshly fried potato chips, juicy hot dogs and hamburgers, salads and more, all for about half what I would expect to pay in Orlando and Las Vegas.
In any case, HAI needs a fairly unique site to hold Heli-Expo. The requirements are usually about 1 million sq ft of exhibition space, the ability to fly helicopters into the facility grounds, plenty of hotel rooms, decent weather and welcoming local officials. It’s probably a tall order to fill those needs, and my hat’s off to the HAI folks who have to make this show happen every year.
Here’s to a great Heli-Expo 2016, and don’t forget to check in on AINonline.com to read all about it (and watch our AINtv videos), or if you’re at the show, enjoy our daily issues of HAI Convention News.