-Airplanista Magazine Feature Story: OSHBASH Tweetup a Major Success

2:09 PM

This digital aviation magazine content was originally published in the August, 2011 issue of Airplanista Magazine and can be viewed here.

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Editor

Poor performance of cell/wi-fi systems ends Tweeplechase before it could begin.

(EAA Press HQ, Media Center) Remember that Oprah show where she gave everyone in the audience a 2005 Pontiac G6? “You get a car, you get a car, everyone gets a car,” the host shouted to a screaming audience. It was one of the most memorable promotions of her show’s run.

The 2011 Airplanista Magazine Oshbash Tweet-up at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh was in one respect similar to that TV show because every person at our event walked out with a door prize. We did not give everyone in the audience a new airplane, as there was just no budget for that.

Nearly every seat in the 60-person capacity Media Center press conference room was filled with our magazine’s readers, made even larger by a sizeable contingent of Twitter followers and Podcasters. There were also a few interested parties who drifted in to suck up the air conditioning and stayed because they liked what they were hearing as I explained the GA advocacy mission of our publication.

It was a wonderful thing to see so many vendors and individuals come together to rally behind us as we work towards making Airplanista the one publication that celebrates those who labor tirelessly to promote GA. With the donation of nearly $2,000 in Oshbash and Tweeplechase prizes, it is clear that the GA advocacy issue is top of the mind for everyone in aviation. With the backing of several fine companies and individuals, we were able to honor our readers who have bought into the concept of reading a new media, online only digital publication.

After a few words by myself, I brought Matt Pipkin of the Commit65 project to the lecturn to promote his cause as he brings awareness to his work encouraging victims of child sex abuse to speak out. Pipkin’s effort at AirVenture was to raise funds to fly his 1958 Cessna 172 for 65 days straight to break the current world’s record.

Pipkin, himself a victim of abuse as a child, is the exact kind of Airplanista that our magazine embraces. As he spoke to the Oshbash audience, it was clear with the long round of applause at his presentation’s conclusion that our readers love hearing about those of us trying to make a difference in aviation, or in Pipkin’s case, using aviation as the stage to raise awareness in the mainstream media and the public.

Also speaking about her work to raise money to construct a bench in Neosho, MO as a memorial to Amanda Franklin was another active Airplanista, Julie Vessigault. As Julie travels the country, she talks up GA and also promotes her endeavor to honor Amanda. She can be found daily on Twitter as @juliewillfly.

At our Oshbash, people sampled free coffee from Flying High Coffee, and enjoyed lots of good aviation conversation. Those who were in the door precisely at the event’s start could have also enjoyed a photo op with aerobatic star Mike Goulian, who graced our July cover. Goulian’s time is as precious as you might expect for a performer of his caliber, and it was genuinely appreciated that he and his family were able to keep their commitment to visit the Oshbash event. Of note was Goulian’s enthusiasm for Airplanista Magazine’s mission, and his insistence to stay connected and work collaboratively to build a stronger GA community.

There were many stories of donations that came in for this event, and all were truly appreciated. But one completely blew my mind as I was setting up the tweet-up. Out of nowhere, Ken Mist (@eyeno on Twitter) handed me a copy of Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters by Chesley B. Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow. He asked me to open it to about page three, where he showed me that “Sully” himself had autographed the book! The fact that Mist was donating this on the spot was serious validation that Airplanista Magazine is resonating with many, many aviators.

Another generous donation came from Cory Robin, who flew in aboard his PZL Wilga, which I nicknamed “the Wilgabeast” on Twitter. I am glad Robin has a sense of humor! He recently bought a number of items at a event to raise funds for the Franklin family following the air show accident in Texas. Robin’s donation of 20 Amanda Franklin posters and two of the team’s t-shirts meant everyone left the event with something in their hand.

The generosity of Mist and Robin complimented the donations received in support of our mission by Sporty’s Pilot Shop, AvPad, Girls With Wings, Windtee.com, Gold Seal Flight Products, the PBS show The Aviators, Nathan Carriker, Dakota Cub and Quayside Publishing.
But while Oshbash was a complete success, our Tweeplechase promotion was a complete failure. I had planned the event well, scheduled each “chase” to coincide with major AirVenture events, and coordinated pick-up of prizes with a number of generous Airplanista Magazine supporters. But what I did not plan for was the completely pathetic Internet connectivity at the show grounds.

The whole point of Tweeplechase was to direct players around the show grounds using tweets on Twitter. But in just the first few minutes of the first “chase” it was clear that the AT&T system set up at the show was again failing to handle the bandwidth requirements of AirVenture attendees. By the third day of Tweeplechase, trying to use any device was a disaster. The nearly non-existent 3G coverage at KOSH would downgrade to EDGE speeds as soon as the grounds filled in the morning, and then go to “no service” for the rest of the day. This caused everyone - including exhibitors trying to process credit card sales - to revert to the EAA wi-fi system on the field, which also became overwhelmed. I eventually called off Tweeplechase and instead gave away those prizes at the Oshbash tweet-up.

Even with Tweeplechase bombing out due to the connection issues, I still feel like our magazine’s contributions to the social networking scene at #OSH11 was a worthwhile effort and helped bring the aviation family a little bit closer together. Tiny online profile pictures from people I knew online became handshakes and hugs from actual humans. It was very cool to see smaller groups of contacts from Twitter meeting other groups as we all traded stories, shared content, and throughly enjoyed the company of so many like minds.

And now that I have succeeded in raising the bar for our magazine’s promotions at AirVenture, I had better get busy planning the #OSH12 events. I’m still not sure how we’ll top Mike Goulian and “you get a prize, you get a prize, everyone gets a prize,” but I will certainly give it a best effort and see what happens. Like everything else with Airplanista Magazine, this project is a fluid concept where the end result is a somewhat moving goalpost, and one never knows for sure what tomorrow will bring.

All I can do is promise our readers this one thing: If you come along on this journey towards whatever Airplanista Magazine becomes, I will do everything I can to make the ride interesting, scenic and worthwhile.

You Might Also Like