I flew to Christchurch, New Zealand, for business meetings. And to give a talk at an industry group’s private event. I still get nervous at these talks. I always need a touchstone – an opening slide or story — to chill out both my audience and me. I didn’t know much about this group. How to start?
We were surrounded by airplanes.
The event was in an aircraft hangar at a former Royal New Zealand Air Force base, RNZAF Wigram. It is now the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum. Waiting to be introduced, I stood under an A-4K Skyhawk.
Earlier, my hosts collected me at my hotel and drove me to the site. They apologized for not briefing me earlier on the venue. I looked at the Harvard trainer swooping down at the gate and said,
“It’s perfect. You had me at ‘Dambusters ’. ”
New Zealand is a country of pilots. Because of the rugged terrain and distances between settlements, airplanes were an early enabler of nationhood.
Aviatrix Jean Batten flew the first England-to-New Zealand solo flight in 1936.
Air Vice Marshall Keith Parks hailed from New Zealand, schooled in Auckland and Dunedin. He commanded all fighter aircraft defending London and southeast England during the Battle of Britain.
Pilot Les Munro flew in the Dambusters mission. He is the only living pilot today of that famous raid. Kiwi.
I had the perfect first slide for my audience. But my complete presentation was already locked and loaded into the multi-media system, ready to project. I quickly bluetoothed two photos from my phone onto a thumb drive. I handed the drive to the technical booth. They re-sized and inserted the two photos into my slide sequence while I walked back to the conference. They introduced me and I started my talk.
“Thank you for inviting me. Isn’t this a great venue? Let me tell you why. Ever since I was a boy, I imagined myself flying airplanes. Here is a picture of me when I was 8 years old. That picture was taken just last Sunday.”
“I love airplanes. I manage manufacturing and supply chain operations in Asia and Europe now. But when I grow up I want to fly that one (pointing to a de Havilland Vampire in the lobby).
“You can see all kinds of magical views when you’re in an airplane. Here is a picture I took with my phone last Tuesday from my airliner window, when I was arriving here. These are mountains west of Christchurch.”
“I thought I would remind you what a magical country you live in, and how much I’d like to keep coming back.”
It was easy after that. We talked about their industry, and why it was so vital in today’s global food chain. How what they did added value to people’s lives around the world.
Afterwards, a farmer, an analyst from an investment bank we all know, and an executive from a global trading firm chatted with me.
Of course we talked about airplanes.
Posted from Bali, Indonesia, July 18, 2014
This is the 200th article we have written in Flying in Crosswinds
It’s been an amazing 7 years. Thanks for sticking with us. Over 12,000 followers of this blog, from a surprising range of countries.
Personal notes to friends:
Andrew, as you can see I could not have avoided going to the museum! Let’s go flying in New Zealand together!
Kelly, I promised you the photo of the New Zealand Alps. Download away! And fly safely, always.