Organizers and assorted helicopter media (who knew?) are crowing about attendance at the three-day 2009 Heli-Expo, which wraps up today in Anaheim. The number of exhibitors and helicopters on display also beat last year's event in Houston.
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"Heli-Expo 2009 a Resounding Success!!" boasts Helicopter Association International of its own event, pointing to Anaheim attendance beating Houston's 17,995 to 17,373. "Heli-Expo Bucks Recent Convention Trends," huzzahs another industry site, while Thomas B. Haines waxes poetic in "Helicopter Show Defies Economic Indicators" for Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Online: "This week, the halls of the Anaheim, Calif., Convention Center are offering shelter from the economic storm outside. Here at Heli-Expo . . . the economic turmoil stays outside as a projected 17,000 attendees fill an enormous exhibit hall chock-a-block with helicopters of all sizes and shapes." Jennifer Harrington, writing for Aviation International News Online, called the record attendance in advance, and in a separate piece that had her sharing the byline with Mark Huber, it is reported that executives at two of the world's largest helicopter makers remained bullish at Heli-Expo despite that economic storm ol' Tommy Haines was alluding to.
AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi pointed to a $13 billion order backlog for his company and insisted the industry as a whole is "in good shape." How is the oil and gas industry spending part of its record profits? Buying bigger Eurocopter whirlybirds scheduled to go into service in 2012.
Matt Zuccaro, HIA president, told the assembled rotor-reporters that diversification has allowed his industry to grow while several fixed-wing aviation shows have been canceled or scaled back. Airplanes are typically used for transportation, he explained, while helicopters are used for emergency medical services, oil rig work, electronic news gathering, firefighting, logging, search and rescue and more, and can thus bounce from industry to industry most in need of their whirly-wares.
But has anyone considered the economic downturn might actually help Zuccaro's industry? More people hurting leads to more crime which leads to more ghetto birds in the sky. There are also the wars raging and still to come. Heck, even Obama apparently needs a new copter.
Uh, check that.