Unlocking Aviation's Mystery

Those of us in the aviation community know all there is to know about our local airport and general aviation -- or at least think we do. But that doesn't mean our friends and neighbors, our local, regional or state government officials, or even our own family members share in that knowledge -- or even want to. That's why it's so important to develop attractive information materials that are appropriate for a range of audiences.

Printed Materials

Many airports and state aviation systems publish brochures or pamphlets that tell the aviation story.

For instance, the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Airport Management Association, produced a comprehensive series of brochures about the airports in that state. These guides cover a range of topics that are relevant to the Commonwealth's airport system, as well as other subjects that are airport-specific. For example, all guides review the environmental and economic benefits of the airport system for the state and region as a whole. Then airport-specific topics discuss how the airport preserves that locality's quality of life, illustrate how federal and state funding for improvements create jobs and business development in that community, describe the types of services provided by a particular airport, and give an overview of its history and contributions to society.

Arizona and New Jersey developed brochures for a number of their general aviation airports that contain information related to operations and economic impact. In Oregon, the City of Corvallis partnered with the Economic Development Partnership to produce a brochure about the municipal airport's industrial park, entitled "Land Your Business Here."

Maps and charts

Many states provide aeronautical charts that provide aeronautical information while accentuating the value of that state's airport system and highlighting its business and tourism opportunities. New York's chart is a good example, and it arms aviation users with additional information about the economic benefits flowing from the state's airports. See the state resources sections to learn if your state has such a chart.


Attention spans being what they are today, one of the best ways to reach out to different audiences is through the medium that we all know and understand -- television. A number of states have produced informative educational videos that present brief, attractive, and compelling stories about aviation's contributions. Virtually all of the videos that are available through state aviation departments provide a broad overview of the airport system in that state. They tell how airports of all sizes serve as on- and off-ramps to a national and international transportation system. And they make the point that aviation -- all of aviation -- generates economic activity. Similar videos from aviation associations may focus on the benefits of various kinds of aeronautical activities, or tell how to reduce noise or improve the public's access to its airports.

These educational products can be used on a one-on-one basis or for groups. They can be aired on local access stations, mailed to interested parties, used as an introduction to general aviation at public meetings and legislative hearings, and for a broad range of other purposes.

Television, Radio and Newspaper

Unfortunately, it's more common for airports and local media outlets to pay attention to each other when there's bad news to tell. Perhaps another municipal budget is overspent and the airport is blamed; maybe new neighbors are bothered by airport noise (forgetting that the neighborhood was in its infancy when the airport was a World War II training ground); or a life and death tragedy might be played out in an aviation mishap. Beyond hard news reporting, or its sensationalism, aviation's positive story just isn't a staple on screen or radio.

There are examples, though, of how aviation tries to gain acceptance in the mainstream. For decades, award-winning New Jersey writer and reporter Jack Elliott has made his Sunday column an educational and informative favorite of readers of the Star Ledger, the state's most widely circulated daily newspaper. The stories aren't just designed to appeal to flyers and aren't just a bully pulpit to rail against airport opponents. They combine human interest, history, and education all rolled into one.

Based on our research we were hard-pressed to identify programs and columns devoted to aviation's role in our everyday lives. It appears that's a new frontier to be tackled by those of us who are pro-aviation. The effort could help pave the way for accuracy and balance for the days when an airport improvement project or other issue starts to make headlines.

Case Studies: News Clips; Video Clips and paper Clips
See also: Related tutorials on press releases and newsletters on the Wolf Aviation Fund main site.

Eye-catching design. Easy-to-understand information. FACTS! These are the hallmarks of good materials that inform people about the benefits of aviation. For examples, turn to Information Materials in our Resources Section