Pilots frequently tend to lean toward the Type A end of the personality scale. Add in the entrepreneur and business leader types and the scale tips even farther in that direction. Keeping a group of business leader-pilots engaged and entertained is no simple task, but a recent meeting of the Young Presidents’ Organization was up to the task. Some 150 members of the Aviation Network of YPO met for the second year in a row at Wyoming’s scenic Alpine Airport for three days of seminars, networking, recreation, and, of course, flying.
The June 25 through 28 YPO event also included numerous WPO members. The World Presidents’ Organization is the group YPO members ascend to after age 45. To be accepted into YPO, a person must have met numerous business successes at a young age. The group includes about 22,000 members from 125 countries.
The second annual Alpine YPO/WPO Aviation Gathering was organized by, among others, Steven Funk, Cyrus Sigari, and Travis Hamilton, all of whom are successful pilots, business leaders, and members of YPO or WPO.
The 2015 event featured speakers with expertise generally themed around the future—future technologies, commercial space travel, and developing skills for succeeding in business and aviation.
Among the speakers were AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker and Editor in Chief Tom Haines, who laid out the challenges and opportunities for the future of general aviation.
Anousheh Ansari, a successful serial entrepreneur, described her dream as a young girl growing up in Iran of traveling to space. She realized that dream in 2006 when she spent eight days aboard the International Space Station. Her success in business allowed her to fund the Ansari X Prize, which spurred a competition to commercialize space. Scaled Composites won the $10 million prize in 2004 when a team sent two astronauts to space on two separate missions in a reusable spacecraft called Spaceship One. The effort led to the creation of Virgin Galactic and the plan for sending paying passengers into suborbital space. Virgin Galactic Test Pilot Mark “Forger” Stucky also addressed the group, describing his flights in the spacecraft under development and in White Knight Two, the large twin-fuselage airplane that will carry the spacecraft to high altitude. From there, rockets will propel the spacecraft to near orbital altitudes where the passengers will experience weightlessness.
The high-energy YPO group had the opportunity to fly numerous of the airplanes on display, including daily chicken drops from Aviat Huskies. In addition, Aviat provided dozens of scenic flights for guests in the Star Valley of Wyoming in the shadow of the Teton Mountains. Textron Aviation launched numerous Cessna and Beechcraft models for demo rides—as well as a Bell helicopter. Others, including Cirrus, Nextant Aerospace, and Tamarack Aerospace also provided demos. Golf, whitewater rafting, trap shooting, and aerial combat by Sky Combat Ace were among the other offerings for the crowd.
The YPO Aviation Network is planning its 2016 meeting to be held at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Dates are not yet confirmed.