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Migration fosters ideas, enthusiasm

Redbird brings together training providers and makes magic

Part customer meeting, part big-idea conference, part team-building retreat, the Redbird Migration Flight Training Conference again this year proved to be an event unique to aviation. The sixth annual event held Oct. 24 to 26 at the company’s Skyport fixed-base operator in San Marcos, Texas, featured everything from a model airplane contest for participants to acting as the host for AOPA’s Flight Training Excellence Awards.

Piper CEO Simon Caldecott throws his team's entry into the airplane build competition during the annual Redbird Migration educational conference for flight training professionals, in San Marcos, Texas. Photo by Ian Twombly.

Now in its sixth year, Migration remains at its core a customer meeting. It’s free to attend, meals are provided, and there are plenty of simulators around for attendees to try—and time in the schedule to buy.

But saying the three-day event is a customer meeting is akin to saying that Redbird is only a simulator company. Customer appreciation days don’t usually include CEOs from aircraft manufacturers. Cirrus Aircraft CEO Dale Klapmeier spoke of the need for more advanced training; Piper Aircraft CEO Simon Caldecott spoke about Piper’s reentry to the training market; and Aero Electric Aircraft Corp. head George Bye appropriately played host to a rousing aircraft design competition.

The event always features one speaker from outside the training industry. Usually the focus is on marketing or instruction from unrelated businesses, with the idea that attendees can apply those concepts to their schools. This year PASSUR President and CEO James Barry spoke about the importance of big data. “Those things that you can measure, you can enhance,” he said. PASSUR’s impact on the airline industry is well established, but Barry says he sees an opportunity for big data to come to general aviation as well. And for flight schools, measuring basic trends such as completion rates can go a long way to improving the quality of the product.

A Migration wouldn’t be complete without some news out of the host. President Jerry Gregoire announced he will be stepping down Jan. 1 and handing the role to Charlie Gregoire. Todd Willinger will stay on as CEO and Jerry will take on the role of co-chairman alongside former AOPA President Craig Fuller.

Gregoire also announced that 2017’s event will be at the EAA Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.
Topics: You Can Fly, Flight School, Training and Safety

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