Sometimes we like to blow our own horns a bit.
Today at NBAA’s Media Breakfast, Steve Pope, a senior editor of Aviation International News and editor of Business Jet Traveler magazine, was awarded this year’s NBAA Gold Wing Award. His story, “Bizav shines in Haitian earthquake relief effort” in the February 2010 issue of Aviation International News, obviously caught the attention of the NBAA judges. The article details business aviation’s response to the earthquake that hit Haiti last January and describes Pope’s own trip to that country aboard a Honeywell corporate Gulfstream that carried aid workers and medical supplies.
Steve also wrote a similar article for Business Jet Traveler magazine, which he became editor of last year. That story is titled “A Time of Need,” and ran in the April/May 2010 issue.
This is the second Gold Wing for Steve, who also took the prize in 1999. Somewhat ironically, Steve was not at the NBAA Convention this year to accept the award, because he was on his honeymoon in South Africa. So I had the honor of accepting the award on Steve’s behalf.
More than 600 business aviation aircraft flew relief missions to Haiti after the earthquake, an activity that earned the industry some much-needed positive publicity. Bad publicity had engulfed business aviation like a tidal wave following the appearance of the three automaker CEOs before Congress in late 2008 to ask for bailout money after they had flown to D.C. in their business aircraft. Instead of defending the positive aspects of bizav, they crumbled under the glare of the committee members.
NBAA and GAMA subsequently relaunched the little-used “No Plane, No Gain” campaign and increased other efforts to counter the bad publicity. Two years later these efforts have been largely successful and continue. When was the last time you heard a prominent politician bad mouthing business aviation?
Humanitarian flights are, of course, good PR, but I am convinced that this is not what motivates most people in business aviation, if any, to send their aircraft and themselves on such missions. I believe it is their general concern for others and a desire to help. For the entire staff of AIN Publications, this is what makes reporting such efforts so rewarding.