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July 30, 2014

Oshbash 2014: Twitter Meetup Focuses on General Aviation Growth

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Written by: Sarina Houston
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Over 50 self-proclaimed avgeeks gathered last night at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for Oshbash, a social media meetup designed to allow Twitter friends to meet in person. Developed by aviation writer Dan Pimentel, this year’s Oshbash theme was centered on a “GA Power Collective” and featured a panel of industry experts.  Its aim? Determining how industry groups  can work together to grow the pilot population to one million certified pilots.

Dan Pimentel, editor of Airplanista Aviation Blog (Photo courtesy of Neil Reagan)

Dan Pimentel, editor of Airplanista Aviation Blog (Photo courtesy of Neil Reagan)

Pimentel is the editor of Airplanista Aviation Blog and is part of the popular “Blogging in Formation” group. He has organized two Oshbash events in the past, the first in 2011 and another in 2013. The 2011 event was a small social media meet up that included about 15 people, Pimentel said. But it didn’t take long for the enthusiasm to spread; last year’s Oshbash attracted a crowd of approximately 100 “avgeeks” – more people than could fit into the press tent.

“The event is about allowing people – avgeeks – who correspond on Twitter and other social media outlets an opportunity to meet each other at Oshkosh,” Pimentel said. This year, Pimentel was inspired by his own blog post in which he laments, “My Christmas wish for 2013? One million active pilot certificates in the FAA database by December 31st, 2014.”

Pimentel thinks working together as a GA Power Collective could help do this.

“All of these organizations- EAA, AOPA, GAMA, LAMA, WAI and others – we all have the same goal in mind, which is more pilots. But whatever we’re doing separately isn’t working. We all need to work together.” Pimental said.

Last night’s event included a panelist of industry leaders and influencers who fielded questions from Pimentel and social media users.

“It’s been a good year for social media,” Pimentel told the crowd at the event, adding that social media is one way we can continue to connect and ignite enthusiasm about aviation. He went on to introduce the panel members, which  included:

  • Dr. Frank Ayers, Chancellor, ERAU-Prescott
  • Dick Kapinski, Senior Communications Advisor, EAA
  • Dr. Peggy Chabrian, Women in Aviation International
  • Brittney Miculka, Director of Outreach at AOPA
  • Dan Johnson, President, LAMA
  • Martha Phillips, President, The Ninety Nines
  • Kathryn Fraser, Director of Safety & Outreach, GAMA

A panel discussion ensued about how to market the industry better, how to encourage women and grow the female pilot population, and what each of us, individually can do to help.

“It’s doable,” said Dick Knapinski, Senior Communications Advisor for EAA. “But it goes beyond introducing someone to their first flight. Each of us, individually, must make a difference.”

Dan Johnson, President and Chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA), said “We should start by not losing pilots, and then we can think about getting more.” He added that at one point, there were 2.5 million people that had student pilot licenses and we should be doing more to retain students.

Audience members continued the discussion on Twitter, live-tweeting questions, panelist quotes and their own ideas with the hashtag #Oshbash, and it was live-streamed with support from otherpeoplesairplanes.com.

The event wrapped up with a few door prizes. Pimentel didn’t cut any corners in the donations department, securing some pretty awesome giveaways, including a pair of augmented reality glasses by Aero Glass, Flying Eyes sunglasses, a Sporty’s Radio, an aviator watch, t-shirts and books.

Reaching one million pilots by December 2014 is a lofty goal. Working together with this goal in mind can only help grow the general aviation industry, but it’s really grassroots efforts like Oshbash and the enthusiasm of pilots like Dan Pimentel that will make a difference in the future of general aviation.



About the Author

Sarina Houston





 
 

 

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