From the Home Office, Thanks!


Forgive me, please, while I indulge myself in a last good-bye to a group of people and an industry that I have come to love.

Almost exactly nine years ago, I read a classified ad in a trade association newsletter looking for applicants to fill the position of president of the International Council of Air Shows. Though I knew nothing about air shows at the time, I desperately wanted the job. I sent multiple copies of my resume by snail mail, e-mail and Fed Ex. I identified people who knew people who thought they might be able to put my resume in the hands of somebody on the Search Committee. Like a love-sick schoolboy, I daydreamed about the job, obsessed over every word in every sentence of every cover letter that I mailed, and eagerly awaited a letter or phone call. Largely by luck, obnoxious perseverance and the lack of truly qualified applicants, I got that interview and, ultimately, the job.

And the job turned out to be even better than I’d expected it to be.

Since starting with ICAS in June of 1997, I’ve flown in B-17s, B-25s, P-51s, L-39s, Stearmans, T-6 Texans, Extra 300s, Pitts S2Bs, DC-3s, C-130s, an F-15 and an F-16. (Note to all pilots who ever gave me a ride: thank you; you never had a more appreciative passenger…even if I was working very hard to act like it was no big deal!)

In my work with ICAS, I have attended air shows from Halifax to San Diego, from Abbotsford to Lakeland and from Muskegon to Midland. I’ve held the poles for ribbon cuts. I’ve set off pyro explosions. I’ve helped take tickets, pour beer, stack chairs and direct traffic. I’ve looked friends and relatives in the eye and honestly told them that I was going on a business trip when I was really going to an air show that I would gladly have spent my own money to attend.

But as much as I will cherish the memories of all those rides and air shows, it has been the people of the air show community that have left the biggest impression on me. With few exceptions, you are smart, passionate, honorable individuals who are involved in the air show business because you want to be. For me, your enthusiasm and the manner in which you attack life has been infectious. During the last nine years, you have not just motivated me to do a better job; you inspired me to try to be a better person. Thank you for that.

At a professional level, that enthusiasm and passion has manifested itself as ample and energetic advice, assistance and direction on the wide range of issues that ICAS faces each day. As a group, you have understood that ICAS is YOUR organization and that our work on your behalf depends on your enthusiastic involvement. As a career association executive, I know that it is very rare to have that kind of interest and involvement in the business of the association.  Thank you for that, too.

Along the way, I hope that I’ve put my enthusiasm for the air show industry and my association experience to effective use for ICAS and left this fine organization somewhat stronger, somewhat more secure and somewhat more relevant than it was when I took the job in June of 1997.

Thanks to all of you; I will miss you and this business more than you can possibly know.

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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.