The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) annual Business Aviation Convention and Exposition (BACE) is scheduled for November 17, 18, and 19, 2015 in Las Vegas. I expect that you have already made all of your travel bookings to attend, but if you haven’t, and are still trying to decide if you should go, or stay at home, please allow me to convince you that it is a “Must Do” for you to go this year.
No matter from which part of the World that you work within the business aviation industry, BACE is the single biggest, and most important event on our industry calendar. Sure, you can attend LBACE, EBACE, or ABACE, as well as Farnborough/Paris, Dubai Airshow/MEBA, etc. All are good events, all in their own way, each specifically designed in-part, to bring a flavor of BACE to those located outside of the USA. None of these aviation events draw as many of your business aviation peers to one location, as does BACE. Attendance is pushing 30,000 business aviation professionals from almost 100 different countries every year. All of them are able to interact, network, and conduct business – both with peers as well as more than 1,000 exhibitors alike. As I said before, no convention on this planet is dedicated to promoting, and showcasing the business aviation industry, is as big, and pulls as many attendees as BACE does.
Why do you attend Mr. Jeremy, you might ask? Well let me tell you…
Over the past 25 years I have had the pleasure of meeting new and old friends at BACE, many of whom are located just too far away for me to visit with them more than once a year. There are many familiar faces that I get to see every year, and yet I still have not managed to exchange more than just a few pleasantries with many of them…Me being the same as them, ‘a familiar face’; there are just so many people to meet and talk with that the task is huge. This is the beauty of BACE. If I actively attempted to get to know 1,000 people every year, for all of the years that I have attended BACE, I still would not have physically met, and talked with everyone that has attended this event over the past 2 ½ decades. No, the best way to get in as much face-to-face-time with the people that you want to talk with at BACE, is to start planning your visit several weeks out, and setting up meeting places, and times. Fortunately over the most recent years, the NBAA has made a handy little smartphone/tablet App available to everyone that attends BACE. If you haven’t downloaded this year’s App, I urge you to do so, just as soon as you can.
For the first 8 years at BACE, I was representing aircraft modification, maintenance and refurbishment services to individuals, corporate flight departments, and charter companies. During those years, my BACE experience consisted of manning a booth inside the convention hall. For the past near 17 years, I have attended BACE as a delegate Jet Broker, buying and selling used business aircraft for a multitude of individuals and companies. No longer tied to a booth, these many years at BACE have enabled me to meet many thousands of aircraft owners, operators, and support friends, all whom have enriched both my business and personal life. Yes, I have sold several aircraft while attending BACE. I have also listed quite a few aircraft too. Most importantly, I have made so many friends that I would never had had the pleasure of meeting, had I not attended BACE each year. Many people assert that even if you don’t have any active reason to attend in a certain year, if you choose not to go, you will be missed by more people than you would care to imagine.
The static display has enabled me more times than I can remember, to quickly guide a client into narrowing his/her search criteria down to the most suitable business aircraft for their mission. Where else can I host a client in virtually every model of business aircraft cabin, on the market, in the space of a couple of hours? The physical show and tell is worth 6-months, or more of looking at floorplans in a brochure. Where else can I walk with a client that is armed with a shopping list of cabin entertainment, and technology needs, and have all of his/her needs fulfilled after only 1 hour of walking in the exhibit hall?
With upwards of 300 different makes, and models of jets, and turbo-props that I must be intimately familiar with, to be able to knowledgeably serve my client’s around the World. Where better to be able to attend a Maintenance Managers, and Operators Symposium (MMOS), or a Technical Up-Dates Forum, as well as face-to-face discussions with the Test Pilots, and Designers of most of today’s current production aircraft? If the aircraft make and model that I am seeking knowledge, or advice on is out of production – no worries because at least 1 exhibitor at BACE is a specialist on my topic aircraft. All of this knowledge base is assembled for me at one time, and in one location: BACE.
Every year at BACE, I come away wishing that the event was just a day, or two longer. This is a very strong reason to come back the next year, and the next, ad-infinitum. There was a time that once I got home several days after BACE, each evening I would be craving a cocktail as five-o’clock rolled around – a surprise to me since I am predominantly a non-drinker for the most of the year. There have been times when I went back to my hotel room while attending BACE to only shave, and change into a fresh suit, because somehow I had pulled yet another all-nighter with my business aviation community friends. One fond memory that sticks in my mind, is closing down the bar at the Peabody one year, and ordering room service beers to be served up on the pool deck. Later that morning as the sun started rising up into the skies of Orlando, we mad BACE revelers breakfasted at the Beeline Diner before going up to be ready for our meetings ahead of us that day. I’m 50 now, so I have definitely slowed down my revelry tendencies. These days I struggle with getting up for either the crack-of-dawn Press Breakfast, or Falcon Family Breakfast, or conversely staying up to see the Honeywell, or some-such party draw to a close. Age catches up with all of us eventually.
I can say that I have experienced many joys, and triumphs while attending BASE over these many years. Conversely I can also say that I have had my fair share of disappointments’ too. One of my greatest joys, and also one of my greatest disappointments with BASE, both center on the great city of New Orleans. In 2011 when BACE was postponed thanks to the jerks in Al Qaida, the subsequent show that resulted in November of that year, holds fond memories for me because I have never, even to this day, have had as much one-to-one quality face-to-face time with people at BACE, due directly to the attendance being severely cut, thanks to the reschedule. The most disappointing thing to me about BACE, is how the NBAA has not put New Orleans back on their rotational calendar. Every time that I went to BACE in New Orleans, I found that even if I spent the entire day in bed (I didn’t of course), I would still meet everyone that I wanted to see at the show, just by spending the evening walking Bourbon Street. And don’t talk to me about the Cessna Party – Some of the best firework displays that I have ever seen, were all put on by Cessna at their shindig at the Lakefront Airport, in a New Orleans suburb during BACE.
So maybe all I have achieved in writing this piece about the virtues of attending BASE, is to show myself up as a reprobate scallywag – who I am really not, by the way (self-professed as not being so.) Hopefully though, if you have read this while still not having already committed to attending BASE in Las Vegas this year, I have managed to instill in you enough impetus and drive to get you to opt to attend, instead of missing the show again this year. Better yet, if my article has given you the shove that you needed to come to Vegas, then look me up, seek me out, and we can celebrate your attendance over one of the many cocktails that are in abundance at every BASE each year. See you there!