This is a year of firsts for me; my first Oshkosh EAA show, first NBAA show and now HAI’S HELI-EXPO show. It was also a first in Louisville as this was their first time hosting the show. So this is a layman’s view of not only the show but my home city’s hosting of the show.
Louisville’s weather in the beginning of March is a crap shoot at best. It can be 70 degrees and sunny or 30 and overcast. Unfortunately, during the show it was closer to the latter. So why Louisville was chosen I can only surmise that it fit what HAI was looking for and weather was not one of the prime requirements. The exhibit hall was well laid out and there were helicopters galore to look at. For a show in a closed facility there was as much room as one could ask for. While there was no hotels near the actual show the buses were running on time and at least to my ears there was no mention of any major transportation problems. Louisville did themselves proud with their delivery of the show (weather not included of course).
So what was on display? Every major manufacturer was highlighting their new aircraft and how they are adapting to the down petroleum market by offering solutions to other markets that can benefit from these aircraft. Bell, Airbus, Sikorsky, Robinson and others all showed their diversity into new markets. The aircraft support exhibitors were there in force as well. In all over 700 booths were set up and ready for business.
That leads to the question, who would want to come to Louisville for a helicopter show in March? As it turns out the weather didn’t stop the buyers, just the browsers. While I was not able to go to the 700 plus booths I was encourage with the reports that there were good business conversations going on and buyers were doing their shopping for the most part. So while traffic was down the buyers were able to navigate much easier and see who they wanted to see.
I did hear rumblings that the show will come back to Louisville in the future. Some hoped for later in the month, others that maybe it would be downtown, and yes there were a few “really?”. All in all though when and if it comes back and you have a product for this part of the industry the buyers will be there. Do you have something they might want?