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Hosting community events is a great opportunityHosting community events is a great opportunity

When was the last time you had 200 or 300 people from the community at your flight school? For Pacific Skies Aviation the answer is easy—March 20 of this year.

As part of its mission to reach out to the community, Pacific Skies hosted the city of Torrance, Calif.’s, annual Torrance Advantage Awards in 2014. Run by the city’s office of economic development, the event brings together political and business leaders to celebrate the best the city has to offer. There are awards for enriching the community, advancing the quality of life, regular investment, and so on. The mayor and city council were only a few of the many influential attendees.

According to Pacific Skies’ Tim Papienski, the event was a major success for the school, which only had to offer the venue and help a bit in planning. The city took care of all the costs. “Our biggest contribution was creating a unique environment,” he says. In addition to an open-air patio setting on the air side of the building, Pacific Skies has a unique hangar space with lighting that Papienski says can replicate the feeling of a cool night spot. It’s a far departure from the downtown venue where the event was held the previous year.

Everything was aviation themed, from the airline ticket-styled invitations to the marketing materials that were mailed to the attendees.

Papienski estimates he spoke with four or five solid prospects who he expects will begin training. Although that alone would have been a great return, the bigger benefit was probably the exposure for the airport and Pacific Skies with community leaders. It gives people a chance to experience a perspective other than that airplanes cause noise and disrupt neighborhoods, he said.

Although being a previous award winner certainly created the contacts for Pacific Skies to be able to host the event, Papienski said one of the school’s basic business strategies is community outreach. Being situated between a museum and the general aviation center gives them an opportunity for unexpected walk-ins, which they have capitalized on with the outdoor space, having a T-6 available for rides, and printing takeaway literature.

The school also hosts monthly barbecues for the public and a controller appreciation barbecue, and invites other aviation groups to use their space and interact with the staff. “We try to host as many events as we reasonably can during the year,” Papienski says.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.

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