By any measure, the 2014 CJP Convention was the largest and most successful gathering of Citation owners, pilots, and enthusiasts ever. This year’s Convention, which wrapped up Sept. 21 at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV, welcomed more than 350 attendees and over 100 Citations parked at nearby Greenbrier Valley Airport (LWB) in Lewisburg, WV.
Oh, How Far We’ve Come…
In opening this year’s event, CJP Chairman Ed Turley noted how the annual convention has grown from the initial gathering (“more a boondoggle than a convention”) of 5-10 pilots in Carlsbad, CA six years ago.
“Since then, each [Convention] has become significantly more impactful,” Turley said. “You’re going to hear a lot of exciting things over the next three days, and these are things you just can’t do with just 75 members and 75 airplanes. Five years ago, that’s all we were; this year, we’re going to close out with more than 400 aircraft. That gives us tremendous scale in the marketplace, and we’re able to do things that we wouldn’t be able to do without that scale.”
That includes attracting top-tier sponsors such as Jaguar and Bendix-King, and offering a wide range of educational opportunities and membership incentives to CJP members. “We’ve done these things because you’ve asked us to,” Turley added.
Tom Poberezny, who joined the CJP leadership team three years ago at the Coeur d’Alene, ID Convention as Convention and Membership Marketing Director, likened Citation ownership to “a magic carpet.”
“You represent some of the luckiest people in the world; you fly an airplane that can take you anywhere you want to go, anytime you want to go, when you want to go,” he added. “We’re here to make that magic carpet work for you as best as possible.”
Poberezny also encouraged attendees to take advantage of all that this year’s Convention had to offer. “What you get out of this event is what you put into it,” he added. “Don’t just sit there and listen; participate.
“The organizers have worked hard to put together what I think is, by far, the best program they’ve ever had in the six years of [CJP’s] existence… and a portent of things to come.”
“This Room Moves the Market”
Continuing a tradition that began in 2009, CJP Regional Director and jetAVIVA CEO Cyrus Sigari provided attendees with an overview on the state of the marketplace for Citation aircraft, and sales trends throughout the globe during an informative session on the second day of the 2014 CJP Convention.
Sigari recapped key market developments from around the globe in the past year, noting that the United States, the European Union, and Brazil remain the three largest markets for business aircraft in the world. From a gradual sales rebound throughout the U.S. to the detrimental effects on sales throughout the European Union from ongoing strife in Ukraine, Sigari walked attendees through the performance of key market segments in these regions, while also noting curious trends; for example, although Europe remains a net exporter of business aircraft, sales of light jets and turboprops have trended upward as large aircraft operators move to smaller aircraft in the interest of greater efficiency.
Of particular note, Sigari also cited the growing influence of Citation owners on overall market trends. “We have a substantial number of airplanes represented just by the folks here in this room, from about $350 million to upwards of a half-billion dollars worth of planes,” he told attendees. “You guys move the market; this room moves the market. The decisions you make have an impact on all the other guys out there.”
Informative Presentations and Interesting Speakers
Of course, CJP Conventions are known for a wide range of dynamic speakers and interesting presentations, and this year’s event was no exception. As one example, on the show’s third and final day USAF Col. Mark Tillman gave a rousing and well-attended presentation on “Flying Air Force One,” including anecdotes about being on the flight deck of the storied U.S. presidential aircraft in the hours following the 9/11 attacks.
Tillman also shared a behind-the-scenes look at President Bush’s clandestine Thanksgiving 2003 visit with troops in Iraq. “President Bush looks me right in the eye, and tells me ‘it’s a simple procedure: you leave America, you take me to Baghdad for dinner, and you bring me back. Can you do it?’ Mr. President, absolutely we can do it,” Tillman recalled. “[Insurgent forces] had already shot down a DHL plane days before. We got in there with two 747s.”
The mission involved an extreme level of secrecy and subterfuge, Tillman added. That included masking the President’s movements from some members of his own Secret Service detail, to confiscating a rogue reporter’s cellphone camera, and filing multiple flight plans for aircraft as diverse as C-130s and Gulfstream jets to mask the movements of Air Force One.
Other speakers included Jacksonville Center controller and NATCA representative Luke Alcorn, who shared tips for “Operating in the ATC System.” Radar Training International founder and president Erik Eliel gave two talks, “Getting Radar Right” and “Speaking a Common Convective Language,” while Attorney John Yodice spoke about “What to do when the Controller says, ‘Call This Number,'” and Dr. Quay Snyder offered valuable information about “Protecting Your FAA Medical Certificate.”
Attendees were also treated to a range of fine dining options and member events, including a Welcome Reception hosted by ProFlight and first-day Member Dinner sponsored by Cessna at nearby Kate’s Mountain Lodge. On the event’s second day, attendees enjoyed a “New York Wine Experience” provided by acclaimed Napa vintner Chuck Wagner, followed by dinner and the opportunity to bid on a diverse range of fine items in a silent auction, with proceeds benefitting CJP programs and initiatives.