When I last wrote, I was in the middle of an intense week of the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) annual conference. Up until now, I’ve covered some practical tips on how to prepare for the conference as a student – this post will cover the conference itself.
We’re not in NoDak anymore….
The conference was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in the heart of Las Vegas, Nevada. The display area was enormous covering the entire Central Exhibit Hall, North Hall, and the upstairs North Hall housed the different workshops offered. Every company in the business had come out to NBAA and workshops from leadership to business tips were being offered. An estimated 28,000 people attended from all over the company and the world. Business that offer window shades for your personal jet, carpet, interiors, curtains, catering companies, airplane hangar doors, aircraft tugs, charter companies, avionics, paint, and so much more! I knew that the world of aviation was far-reaching, but this conference really showed me just how far it did indeed reach.
When I realized my gift of gab wasn’t big enough…
I’m usually a sociable person – my job in Grand Forks requires me to deal with many passengers and for me to always wear my game face. However, I found the NBAA conference a real test of my ability to talk, talk, talk, and then talk some more. I probably walked about seven miles each day and found myself exhausted by the time I got back to my hotel room in the evenings. The ladies I met from Purdue University, also my roommates for the week, were actively seeking out potential companies as they are about to graduate with their Master degrees. The three of us (probably the best number for wandering this venue) walked around the entire convention center for the first two days just talking and getting to meet people. Many of the companies will send their top leadership to represent as this is the biggest business aviation conference in the country. This is an ideal opportunity to get your resume to the top of the pile if you’ve already applied for a job with that company. I also found it was a great way to learn more about companies I’d heard about, but really never had the opportunity to interact with. I came away having met some great individuals from Flight Safety International, Clay Lacy Aviation, and Gulfstream Aerospace – these are some of the top companies in the industry. NBAA also gives you an opportunity to catch up with people that have mentored you or that you’ve had a chance to meet through aviation.
I’d have to say it’s the people…
The founders of GlobalAir, Jeffrey & Elisa Carrithers, had their own booth at NBAA. I was able to formally introduce myself and meet those who have provided me with the scholarship to write this blog. I found some wonderful, down-to-earth Southerners with a heart to help young professionals get into aviation. It was wonderful to put some faces to names and get to hear more about how they started their company. It is amazing to see how many entrepreneurs exist in the world of aviation – they saw a need to compile data about Fixed Based Operators (FBOs), fuel prices all over the country, aircraft for sale, etc., and Globalair.com was born. Their website is the largest in the country to hold information that all aviation-related companies and flight departments can take advantage of. I truly believe that those in the aviation world that have started successful businesses and followed their passion for aviation are some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs.
I also had the chance to meet Lisa Lewis, a product support pilot for Gulfstream Aerospace company. I “met” her through social media when I solicited advice from a female pilot group about whether or not to attend NBAA. I was concerned about missing a week of classes (ask anybody who knows me well and they’ll tell you I never miss class) and she encouraged me to email her about further details and eventually connected me with the Perdue students. It turned out to be a wonderful thing as she later showed the three of us around Gulfstream’s large static display at the Henderson Executive Airport located near Las Vegas. I have the feeling that mostly those who are thinking of buy their personal jet are the ones that check out those beautiful airplanes, so thanks Lisa for making that possible (did I mention that the folks from Gulfstream are really nice??)!
Lastly, it was great to spend the week hanging out with Rachel and Kayla who are finishing their Master of Science in Aviation & Aerospace Management at Purdue University. While there are more and more women getting involved in aviation, the percentage is still quite small. It was great to learn more about Purdue University and their specific degrees – of course, it was great to bond with some fellow female aviators. They have worked hard to get where they are at and the sky is surely not the limit for everything they will accomplish in their careers. Good luck Rachel and Kayla!
So, when’s the next NBAA Conference???
Overall, the NBAA conference was a great opportunity to experience the vast number of companies involved in aviation. It was a way to scope out possible future companies and to network with others in the field of aviation. I was also able to connect to fellow female aviators and come away with an excitement for what lays beyond my studies at UND. The possibilities are endless and the field is as vast as the skies that we fly in.
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