Category Archives: Marketing

Aviation Humor at Shorts Expense

Shorts, the box the airplane came in.

The biggest fear of every Shorts crew is crashing in a trailer park, as the wreckage would never be found.

The Shorts flies by vacuum (it’s so ugly that the air is repulsed and gets out of the way)

I gotta admit though… always thought the whole corrugated aluminum skin thing was kinda cool, almost retro like a trimotor.

Aviation, the social leveling agent ?

Its funny looking back, how aviation tended to level out social demographics. The funniest I ever experienced was the dialog between a F100 A level exec and a auto mechanic. At the airport, both tended to wear biker attire, and flew similar airplanes, and often chat with one another. During the workweek, each had dramatically different roles…

One week, the F100 exec took his BMW in for some engine work. He never put 2+2 together that he knew the mechanic, nor did the mechanic the same. It was just business… Until the next weekend at the airport, when the mechanic was chatting about a car he worked on, and then a whole bunch of laughter ensured. The 2 guys did not recognize each other in their work attire, and just went about their business. At the airport, things added up, and they got a good chuckle out of the deal.

I remember the same as a young green behind the ears pilot flying parts here and there. I often would run into big wheels at any number of airport lounges during wait times, and we’d chat a bit. I had no idea who I would be talking to, short of the obviously attire they were wearing, or the jet they flew in on. Yet, the wisdom and the things I learnd from those fellows was always amazing, to say nothing of how much they would feel free to share with an interested youngster.

To some extent, this leveling thing seems to be somewhat history related. Years ago, I met a number Quiet Birdmen, and it blew my mind that these gurus of aviation held to such a level social playing field. It was the love of flying that brought folks together, whether it was a retired old guy in a 150, a airshow guy with a Stearman, or a 747 Captain, it made no difference, it was flying.

Today though, there does seem some disparity… and I’m not so sure why that is. Folks still love flying, but the starry eye teenager at the airport fence, or the grizzled old QB with a cigar perpetually flying the hanger have ceased to exist for the most part. I’m sure the sanitized sterile airport environment of today has some to do with it, but I’m leery to attribute causality. I’m thinking there has to be more… I think if it could be identified, and addressed, it might do more for aviation, that even the most expensive and dedicated marketing platform to generate interest.

What do you think?

Podcasting as a marketng and instructional tool

Podcasting is a tool a CFI can use to increase instructional efficiency, build business, and potentially provide an additional revenue stream.

First a definition. Podcasting , in its simplest terms is prerecorded and subscribable audio programs that can de downloaded from the internet and played on an Ipod, MP3 player, or even on ones pc through windows media player or numerous other programs. The subscription process is perhaps one of the big advantages that podcast provides, as contrasted with just a link to an audio file. The result for the user, is that new podcasts get loaded to their player device as they are published.

A great example of a CFI using a podcast is at The Finer Points . Jason Miller uses podcasting as a marketing, and an instructional tool. Per his web site, in less than 6 months, he has over 20,000 subscribers, and is expecting to reach 50,000 fans by the end of 2006. And unlike radio, and other media, podcasting is customer pull, as only people that want to hear your message will sign up for it. In addition, in perusing his forum, he has listeners all over the world.

As an instructional tool, one could augment a ground school course with a review of the prior lesson via podcasting. Repetition, one of the laws of learning is often difficult in ground school courses, due to time constraints, and the individual needs of ones students. With a podcast of the material covered, a student that is having difficulty trying to comprehend the material has yet another avenue for review, perhaps even while they are exercising, or driving to work. In addition, topics to be covered in a flight lesson or ground school could be introduced via podcast as well. Now, this does not replace the pre-lesson briefing, but by having a student listen to a podcast prior to a lesson, they may have time to formulate some questions during the pre-lesson briefing.

In addition, ones skills as an orator will no doubt improve as you create podcasts. Listening to yourself while editing a podcast can be an incredibly humbling experience, and as a result, one will make improvements to ones technique.

As a side benefit, podcasts can be a marketing tool. Adverstising in the traditional sense is a major pig in a poke, and it can become incredibly expensive. Podcasting is extremely low cost, other than some nominal fees for hosting, and the time commitment needed to create them. Pocasting also allows you to control the frequency of exposure. One is free to podcast as frequently, or infrequently as ones desire, which is impossible in traditional advertising. It also is highly focused, being that podcasts are customer pull, vs company pushed. Thus out of one’s subscriber base, excluding user error, and people who unsubscribe after a single podcast, all subscribers are interested in what you have to say. Talk about highly targted marketing! In addition, ones podcast focus can be on education, and the marketing benefits come along for a free ride.

Podcasting can also be used as an additional revenue stream, although monetization in this arena is still up in the air. One can charge others for short sections of commercial content, or one could even create a premium podcast offering focused on a specific niche for a fee.

Private Pilot Short Seminars

Recurrecny training is difficult for most pilots once they have earned their certificate. This is especially true for the ground school subjects, as for all too many people, they appear boring, and for some pilots lack relevance.

One of the things I’ve done in the past is provided short seminars at nights, or for the truely diehard individuals, in the early morning hours. Their is nothing like holding a ground school class at 5:30AM to judge the commitment levels of ones students! Surprisingly, I’ve had decent attendence.

The key is to make this sessions interactive, and fun…. We all know that the FAR’s can be pretty boring. One of the things I will do is research some of the latest aviation case law articles from John Yodice. Court cases do interest the public, and when you can tie case law to real life pilot operations, FAR discussions can become quite interesting.

Weather is another area that requires review. One of the things I’ve found useful for preparing curriculum is Skywarn training. While the concentration in skywarn is severe weather, the graphics, and additional weather resources presented in Skywarn create an emotional connection with pilots. Perhaps this is greater in my locale due to the frequency of severe weather, or it may just be the intensity of the subject area.

Additional subject areas for short seminars are cross country planning, transision to glass cockpits, GPS specific training, and medical issues for pilots. In the future, I’m planning on adding some course material specific to experimental aircraft, light sport aircraft, avionics, and maintenance.

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Accelerated Programs

I’ve always wondered about such programs. The latest one I heard of was Sport Pilot in a week.

This is encouraging in one way, in that it fosters interest and excitement in aviation. In addition, the short time and the financial commitment doesn’t allow the student to loose interest, or get sidetracked by other external factors.

The problem as I see it, is a lack of percolation time for higher levels of learning, combined with a lack of diversity in training. Any student needs time to comprehend, and apply new knowledge. In a weeks time, they can obtain a great deal of rote knowledge and skill. However, that is just not enough time to get to the higher levels of learning where one can apply it in other areas, or to derive new concepts and ideas.

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