The Air Show Family


It is the nature of ICAS as an organization that we often become involved in difficult situations involving our members. As a consequence, we hear more than our fair share of stories about failed friendships, contractual disputes and emotional disagreements between members.

But Deb Gary’s story on Gene Soucy and Teresa Stokes has reminded us that we also hear more than our fair share of “good news” stories.

As an example, I’m reminded of the call I received several years ago when it became widely known that a particular air show performer was having serious health problems. The caller requested that he not be identified, but he asked that I inquire discreetly about the status of the performer’s health insurance, offering to pay for that insurance if necessary.

Or the generosity of ICAS members Steve and Suzanne Oliver who, following Hurricane Ivan, brought their trailer to Pensacola for ICAS members Bill and Teresa Beardsley to use for several months while their extensively damaged home was repaired. Or Kim Curry from Springfield Air Rendezvous who, after the same hurricane, located a power generator and had it shipped to Roger and Pauline Buis in Pensacola, where generators were no longer available at any price.

Some years ago, a member called to recount a conversation he’d heard.  It seems that one performer who had been filling in for another performer had refused to accept payment for jumping in to help.  The member who had overheard the conversation called me because he knew that it was not a story he could repeat, but he simply wanted someone else to know about this generous act.

As I write this, ICAS members in Mississippi and Louisiana are still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Here at ICAS, we have received at least a dozen calls from members who have offered their hangars, their office space and their homes to any ICAS members who might have been displaced by the storm and flooding.

You won’t see these anecdotes recounted in Fast Facts.  As gossip, these unusual acts of friendship and generosity are not very interesting. As news, they don’t quite qualify.

But they are, nonetheless, an important part of what makes this business so interesting and unique.

For the first few years after I came to work for ICAS, I was a little put off by all the talk of the “air show family.” It all seemed a bit contrived, syrupy and self-congratulatory to me. Then, I started paying closer attention.

The sense of family in our business is absolutely genuine. Like any family, we often disagree, we sometimes argue, and we occasionally fight so bad that we can never make up. But, throughout the air show community, there is a sense of friendship and personal commitment that transcends normal business relationships. I’m not nearly smart or insightful enough to tell you where it comes from, but I think that, from time to time, it’s important that we recognize this unique aspect of our business and our relationships with one another.

Previous articleFacing the Reality of Air Show Fatalities
Next articleA Stroll Down Organizational Memory Lane
John Cudahy
John Cudahy, ICAS President. | John Cudahy first joined ICAS as the organization's president in June of 1997. He has worked his entire 36-year professional career in association management, including more than two decades as the chief executive officer of ICAS. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Cudahy holds a private pilot certificate and is married with two adult children.