Safety Publications/Articles

Professionally Speaking

Sell The Romance

Well, by golly, my wife, Gail, ran into a real, live, sho 'nuf salesperson in the aviation business.

Gail and I just celebrated our thirty-fourth wedding anniversary. (We owe it all to one of my airport cars. Back in the 1970s, Gail got so mad at me one morning that she packed up the "good" car right after I left for my job at the airport. She was gonna leave me and take the kids home to Mama. Then she got to thinking that it wouldn't be fair to leave me with nothing to drive but the old airport car. She decided to wait and let me drive them back to Mama's that night. Late that afternoon, however, she decided to give me one more try. She unpacked and never said a word to me about it until 10 years later.)

Gail wanted to get me a nice present for our thirty-fourth, something that was a little frivolous and something I would love. She knows that I have flown or ridden in gliders, piston aircraft, jet aircraft, propjets, parachutes, helicopters, and the Goodyear blimp - in short, every kind of aircraft except rockets and hot air balloons. She decided to buy me a ride in one of those. Since we live in Rocket City, U.S.A - Huntsville, Alabama, where Wernher Von Braun's German rocket team did their work for this country - she checked out rocket rides. After learning the cost, she decided that I would really enjoy a balloon much more than a rocket.

Gail called trusted pilot, instructor, and general all-around aviation guru, Judd Davis. Judd referred her to a respected professional balloonist, and that's when she ran into what must have been a real salesperson. The balloonist quoted Gail a flat fee for a dawn flight, and then he told her what it included.

My flight - which I haven't taken yet - will start with a dawn launch and end - just like in the movies - with a celebratory champagne toast (as befits our industry, the champagne will be non-alcoholic). Lord, the man is actually selling the romance and excitement of flight! Doesn't that sound lovely? A dawn launch - it brings to mind the drama of the Battle of Britain and, to go back even further, Snoopy and the Red Baron. A dawn launch!

Furthermore, the man promised Gail that she could travel along with the ground crew following the balloon and be there for the recovery and the champagne toast. She could even take two friends with her!

Gail bought. Y'all, the man could have said, "Now, to get a good balloon ride he'll have to get up about four in the morning and be here by dawn. We'll have to chase him around the country in a truck anyway, so if you're a real glutton for punishment, you can come along. We can't have real champagne, but we will have this fake stuff." Instead, he presented everything as an exciting benefit and - to repeat the important part - Gail bought.

Now she's got her friends arguing over who gets to arise at four and ride in the truck with her. This guy has got my wife spending a good chunk of money and looking forward to riding across cotton fields in a truck. He must be something.

I'll let you know how it goes.

By Ralph Hood

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