Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Aero Experience Editorial: Reclaiming 2020 for Aviation

The Aero Experience takes this time as the month of May draws to a close to assess our progress and prepare for the new opportunities that lie ahead. We have been using this "down time" to explore ways to improve our coverage and promotion of Midwest Aviation, and we will announce some of these initiatives in the weeks ahead.     

It would be a gross understatement to say that this year has been challenging for the aviation industry, acknowledging that there will be a lengthy recovery time for some sectors. The air carrier industry has suffered two crippling blows - the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX fleet and the world-wide COVID-19 outbreak - that left most of the passenger fleet on the ground and reduced crew requirements for the foreseeable future. Government essential industry declarations and unstable employment conditions have resulted in a ripple effect through the general aviation sector, temporarily pausing recreational flying as well as flight training, proficiency check rides and elective aircraft maintenance. Aerial entertainment events have been canceled through July in most communities, resulting in great economic losses, though some have rescheduled for later in the year. The business aviation sector offers hope for a turnaround, providing service for essential business travel during the severe reduction in air carrier options. The availability of quality business aircraft in the secondary market is also a good sign, with popular aircraft types holding their resale value.

All of that being said, this weekend brought a new opportunity to rally around the aviation, and in this case aerospace, industry with the successful launch of the SpaceX Dragon Crew spacecraft. For the first time in nearly a decade, American astronauts were launched into space on an American rocket, docked to the ISS and joined the international crew. This achievement was made possible through the dedication of thousands of contributors at SpaceX, NASA and businesses throughout the supply chain. A significant amount of private and public funding made this possible, and the adage, "No bucks, no Buck Rogers," still holds true today. We can take this new, and very public, accomplishment as a hopeful symbol of a third and fourth quarter industry recovery.       

In the first five months of 2020, The Aero Experience has provided media services to our sponsors and advertisers. Two new sponsors, Wings of Hope and Gateway Flight Training, joined our team. We continued to provide our signature year-round coverage of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019, sponsored by Elite Aviation, and there is more to come over the next several months. Our media was included in recent editions of Sport Aerobatics and Skylines magazines as well as the F/A-18E & F/A-18F Super Hornet with EA-18G Growler in Detail & Scale book. We provided extended coverage of aircraft deliveries from Wings of Hope and Big River Aviation to affiliated missions in Central and South America. We consulted our friends at Gateway Jets and JetValues Jeremy for their views of the aviation industry, and are fortunate to have these industry leaders on our team. Our monthly coverage of general aviation sightings across the region has been well received. We are always looking for more great aviation organizations to join The Aero Experience team.

As mentioned above, public aviation events have been curtailed until at least July. However, this just gives us time to prepare for the remainder of 2020. The Aero Experience will provide in-depth coverage of two Midwest Aviation announcements coming in the near future. A new St. Louis-based non-profit will be launched with the mission to "Spark youth interest in pursuing opportunities in the aviation field." Also, our airshow partner Patrick McAlee Airshows will reveal the new aircraft scheme and plans for the remainder of the event season. We will further expand our coverage of Midwest Aviation through direct involvement with these great projects.

As the year unfolds, The Aero Experience will go forward with the intention of reclaiming 2020 for aviation. In our media coverage, we will encourage the recovery of Midwest Aviation through rejuvenated activity and purpose. It is time, in coordination with state recovery plans, to participate in aviation activities again. If you own an aircraft, make sure it has received current maintenance and is flown regularly. Pilots, get and remain current (with a safety pilot if necessary), receive continuing education/training, utilize the support services at airports and frequent the dining establishments that rely on healthy aviation traffic. Corporate aviation operators, provide courteous and professional service to your customers and be generous to those in need with your assets when possible. Flight schools, provide the highest possible training standards and encourage your students to persevere and achieve their goals. Retirees and former aviation professionals, pass your wisdom and knowledge to the next generation.   

In short, we want to see the rest of the year unfold as one that shows the strength of the aviation community. We have survived and thrived following cycles of economic highs and lows, technological breakthroughs and stagnation, and personal triumphs and tragedies. Yet we are still here to support each other through yet another (hopefully short) cycle of unpredictable world events. Stay strong, and reclaim 2020 for aviation!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

May 2020 General Aviation (and More!) Survey

By Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl
The Aero Experience looks back on May 2020 with this General Aviation (and More!) Survey. Here we present a collection of the general aviation and other aircraft we encountered during our visits to cover stories at five different airports. We hope that you will enjoy this photo essay, and we look forward to more activity as general aviation makes a strong recovery in the near future.

St. Louis Downtown Airport, Cahokia, IL

Southwest Illinois Sport Aviation Flight Park, Millstadt, IL

Farmington, MO Regional Airport

Washington, MO Regional Airport 

Creve Coeur Airport, Maryland Heights, MO