Redbird Migration 2018 is in the books, and while attendees are still making their way home or waking up after a long travel day, the success of the event was evident from Day One.
The event, in its eighth year now, took place at the spectacular AOPA Excellence Center headquarters in Frederick, Maryland, and hosted more than 350 attendees from flight schools, mostly from North America but from a number of foreign countries as well. With Redbird co-chairman Craig Fuller acting as MC, things rolling on Tuesday evening with great talks by former Harley Davidson bigwig Jerry Wilke explaining how in his experience customer service and branding are everything—Harley tattoos, he pointed out, are common, which is perhaps the ultimate statement of brand loyalty, messages that seemed to resonate with the audience. New Recreational Aviation Foundation president Bill McGlynn followed on, with a discussion of the state of the organization and how the Forest Service, the member org’s biggest partner, seemed to be really getting the way that backcountry strips reduce the impact on the environment.
The main attraction and the timing couldn’t have been better, was aerobatics legend and Red Bull Air Racer Mike Goulian, who was fresh off a win at the Indianapolis Red Bull Air Race a couple of days earlier, a victory that catapulted him into first place in the standings with one race left to go. Goulian spoke about how his experience not as an air racer but as a flight school owner and how the experience informed his growth as a pilot and as a racer. In what was one of the highlights of the three-day get together, Goulian added that he was exhausted from his Indy Race victory and so asked a friend and experienced Cirrus pilot to fly with him down to Frederick for the show, because Goulian recognized that he, one of the best pilots in the world, might not be at his best that given day, which is a great lesson for us all.
The rest of the event featured numerous seminars, including one by Redbird co-chairman Jerry Gregoire on the coming influence of virtual reality applications in aviation, team building events and more, plus more great talks about instruction from Roger Sharp and Craig Sabina.
Wrapping up the show was AOPA communications chief Tom Haines, who recounted in detail his experiences delivering aid to survivors of Hurricane Irma, which devastated the Florida Keys last year—a talk delivered while Hurricane Michael was preparing to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle. And as a topper to the event, AOPA’s Elizabeth Tennyson and Chris Mosier teamed up to give attendees a snapshot of the state of the world of training and presenting the organization’s annual awards to the top flight schools and instructors in the nation, which were CFI Mike Biewenga of Blue Skies Flying Service, located just outside Chicago, and Take Flight Aviation, of Orange County, New York.
Redbird President Charlie Gregoire summed it nicely, saying that "Migration is one of our favorite events of the year. It gives us the opportunity to gather as friends, to learn about the real issues facing flight training organizations each day, and to develop solutions that will help to make the bright future we envision for this industry to become a reality."
Next year’s Migration takes place in Denver, Colorado, at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum.