Commentary: Winston-Salem After Action Report

The following is strictly the personal opinions of Hugh Oldham and does not necessarily reflect the official policy of any organization or association.


(Anderson, SC 10/10/02 1001)


Morning All!


I’m beating several drums this morning: the value of the ICAS Academy and non-aviation related events @ airshows are the most important ones.


I have posted Ed Cox’s (Winston-Salem Airport Director) AAR on the proairshow website. 


Reading between the lines gives one insight in to how much Ed gained by attending the ICAS Academy.  No one should be expected to intuitively understand the complexities of an airshow: as in any endeavor, training and networking with experienced personnel is essential; it freshens the mind, brightens the outlook and prevents one from getting stuck in a rut.


The second point of importance is the Winston-Salem’s show efforts to broaden its demographic base:


The promotion of the Tuskegee Airmen and Red Tailed P-51 (the Tuskegee Airman Association was provided a tent/booth, an original WWII Tuskegee Airman was on-site and the P-51 flew its demo narrated by Jamail Larkin and Hawk Hunter, a Tuskegee Airman) opened the airshow’s gates to an entirely new segment of the population who would have never thought of attending an airshow. 


Traditionally black faces at an airshow are rare, maybe it’s because we have not reached out and invited the African-American community to our events?


Although I have a personal political agenda of being inclusive to all segments of our population, Ed’s remarks relative to the increased gate count and dollar income should peek the interest on the most hard nosed (and/or myopic) business person.


The second “gate buster” (I’m a narrator, excuse hyperbole please) was the Fire Fighter’s Combat Challenge.   Although this event offered some logistic challenges to the show producers and well as physical challenges to the participants, it did increase the demographic appeal of the event and added to the increase gate.   The logistic problems can be addressed (after all, we are supposed to be managers) and I heard the “not aviation” statement used about the FFCC, the fact remains, Winston-Salem saw a 24% increase in paid attendance, that should even get a pilot’s attention.


Dr. John Beasley of Brooklyn Wis, wrote a Letter to the Editor in the current issue of World Airshow News about “Diversity or Boredom” as it related to OSK airshow.  Although he was specifically speaking of “airshow acts,” it is my humble opinion that the “Diversity Thing” goes much deeper as a root cause of our industry’s malaise.