Kansas Learjets Fly like Sinatra, Dance like Lady Gaga

A recent New York Magazine detailed how money used to walk (or rather, fly) in the days of Frank Sinatra, by Learjet.  Celebrities, Chief Executive Officers, and charter clients alike have long relied on the Kansas-inspired aircraft platform for more than four decades.

Even the learjet airframe seems crafted like Kansas Governor Sam Brownback – focused, fast, and relentless towards the pursuit of less drag.  What Governor Brownback has engineering by removing a state income tax for many small businesses may enable a faster economic growth rate.  By flattening his tax code, his Midwestern efforts may make his economy just like the custom-built Kansas learjets – ready to fly direct, sharp, and high.

I don’t have any time flying a Learjet. My opinions are based upon its hangar reputation and pilot gossip.  Without paying much attention to it, it seems that I hear of landing gear complications the most out of any squawk.  One time outbound from a lobbying run out of the Jefferson City airport, I saw one come in with gear/brake/reverse thruster issues.  Fortunately for the crew that day, they skirted off the side of the runway without personal injury. However, their jet was down for maintenance there for several weeks, along with their pilots’ wounded egos.

Perhaps if I had had a different start in government affairs, or an earlier start in general aviation, I might have worked my behind into an older Learjet.  However, now, I have become a loyal believer in efficiency through large and diverse payloads.  For most of my missions, I will gladly choose my Swiss army transport plane full of everything I can think of before my startup.

However, for those used to flying high and fast, with fewer than five passengers and not much gear, the Lear will remain their 446 knot per hour workhorse.  Plus, as my wife once observed leaving Midway Chicago airport, there may be nothing as sleek as seeing Lady Gaga swing out of a jet black Learjet.  Apparently, Sinatra is not the only famed musician that enjoys the rarified air to the tune of “come fly with me.”

Pitching Jefferson City Missouri State Capitol Art

By Lobbyist Travis H. Brown

Every year, for at least five months or more, professional lobbyists like me wear out a few pairs of shoes working the granite halls of Jefferson City’s Missouri State Capitol.  Having passed more than 10,000 logged hours there just over the last decade alone, it is easy to overlook many of its arts and cultural attractions that give advocates a working office that is also one of America’s greatest living museums.

However, during the summer months when the State Legislature is not in session, the walls of Missouri’s social history told by our finest genre artists seem to speak with a greater voice.  Maybe it is because my mind is not as bound on multi-tasking from debating legislation, moving from committee hearing to floor action, or hosting the next Saint Louis or Kansas City in-bound client.  It could also simply be from the relative absence of humanity that energizes the Missouri General Assembly.  Without 163 members running in and out of their offices, to appropriations meetings, to press conferences or public policy meetings, it is as if the building’s presence shifts from hotel concierge to more of a wandering tourist.

Perhaps, as an oil painter myself, it is my recognition for how hot the House Gallery must have been for Thomas Hart Benton.  More than 80 years ago, it is easier to imagine why more than a few State Senators or State Representatives might have scoffed at the nature of his art work.  However, a deal was a deal – Benton could paint anything he desired within his two year deadline, provided that it had relevance to Missouri’s social history.  There have many days where visiting trade groups or business associations were caucusing about their Capitol Day in this very gallery, only to be interrupted by many others passing through.   Imagine the curious smell of Benton’s 35 dozen eggs that he used to make his mural in the heated months of June, July, and August.  Imagine listening to the comments from his fellow State Senators who wondered why painting a baby’s diaper at a political town hall would have been more justified than discussions of the old Confederacy.  The scaffolding mess that Benton eventually concluded must have seemed a lot like the first public reactions to the Eiffel Tower.

Thankfully for all Missourians and our tourists, these unique works have survived the test of time despite early criticisms.  If you are not one of our frequent guests returning to speak, lobby, visit, or vote within our State Museum, then I can recommend to you this book worth exploring by Priddy and Hall.  This book is an excellent coffee table display of how Jefferson City lobbied for and secured one of America’s greatest public art collections of our day.

Missouri Lobbyists & Chief Executive Officers: Remember Your Last Five Years Without Social Media

By Travis H. Brown

This CEO.com report sounds the alarm of the tsunami of social media changes ahead within the next 60 months.  Most Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) have armies of lawyers, lobbyists, regulatory affairs experts, media relations gurus, along with many public relations agencies on some of their working priorities.  Missouri lobbyists share the same challenge – they have corporate clients who call, issue-based campaigns who email, and many others who visit from time to time.  For many contract lobbyists, mainly over 50 years of age, I suspect that they will continue to resist the wave of social mediums that are already disrupting their relevance.  To play a devil’s advocate, precisely what values have I found after my 8,443 tweets as of this moment?

Fine.  Enjoy it while it lasts.  However, as reports like these evolve, failure to define one’s digital presence will have dramatic consequences within five years or less.  As your time will fly these next 60 months, others will be standing by to define you, your scope of work, and perhaps even your legacies.

By no means am I proclaiming the end of lobbyists, in Missouri, or elsewhere (influence-peddling is at least as old as Plato’s Republic).   The fundamental organization of a strategy, a message, its production, or its direction.  All of these entrepreneurial variables will continue to be essential to how democracies and republics must work in some fashion.  However, whether or not your hired lobbyist in Jefferson City, in Springfield, or in Topeka, can remain relevant to your company’s demands with customer-driven social media will be another question.

The prosecution rests, with a statute of limitation imposed for 60 months or less remaining.  Meanwhile, New York City will be turning their payphones into wifi hotspots.

Five Scenarios for A Missouri Lobbyist to Use General Aviation

By Travis H. Brown

Contract lobbyists that survive past ten years of state & local experience know all too well that time is usually the most limiting variable within your professional services.   Clients seem to want help promoting, passing, progressing, or defeating legislation at the same time periods within any given legislative session.  While State Capitols may vary, the demands on a corporate client’s industry most often requires a state affairs director to juggle one day in Jefferson City with another meeting in Columbus.

For lobbyists less familiar with precisely what general aviation offers those who may be influence-peddling in the morning, while campaigning in the afternoon, I offer the following five Jimmy from Seinfeld scenarios to explain how plane makes for gain:

  1. Lobbyist Travis Brown has a Sunday night meeting with healthcare clients who cannot easily meet during the week in Kansas City.  Due to their prolonged dinner meeting, a late night return drive is no longer optimal.  An early Monday morning hearing or legislative briefing before 9 am in Jefferson City prompts Lobbyist Travis Brown to shorten his two hour car ride into one 30 minute flight to optimize both meeting slots.
  2. Lobbyist Travis Brown needs to meet several new candidates for office that his clients may wish to support for higher office.  Three of the top five candidates are having their major fundraisers or town hall debates within the same week.  Each of the candidates are from completely opposite corners of Missouri, making a show me state drive or shared commute with other lobbyists impractical.  Due to campaign deadlines, and future travel obligations, lobbyist Travis Brown chooses to flight plan all candidates within one full day of short excursions.
  3. Lobbyist Travis Brown has held an important ballot strategy dinner appointment in Saint Louis with a major client and his guests for eight weeks now.  However, after a long day of legislative committee hearings in Jefferson City, followed by two Capitol Lobbying Days on the same afternoon, Travis is running late to make his dinner on time.  To make matters worse, an emergency meeting with a State Senator has been called for 9:30 pm back at the State Capitol on a pressing policy matter.  Travis Brown chooses to correct his schedule by compressing four hours in a car into less than one hour to and from the State Capitol with time to spare for his last caucus meeting.
  4. Lobbyist Travis Brown has agreed to speak at both a morning radio show in Springfield and a chamber of commerce debate in Joplin months in advance on the same day.  Within the last 72 hours, it becomes important to attend an issue advocacy conference in Washington, DC that starts bright and early the next morning.  Since Travis can be joined by copilots and his film production crews if he flies, he arranges private aviation to make all of his travel segments on time.
  5.  Lobbyist Travis Brown is having a great legislative session in Jefferson City, but has seen little of his newest industry client near the Missouri River.  His government affairs client handles state & local public affairs across at least eight Midwestern States.  Due to new industry regulations and several crisis communication projects, his client is only available to meet this week in Chicago.  As it turns out, Travis was headed to Des Moines, Iowa earlier on the same day, after his legislative testimony was finished mid-week in Jefferson City.  By flying onto Chicago from Des Moines, Travis is able to join the industry meeting and compress a three day slot of client prospect travel into one overnight trip.

I use these third person references because my life, and the lives of others on which I depend, have been improved through the vigilant use of general aviation.  America is a big place, and lobbying across the fifty states and some major cities can quickly take its toll as a carpet-bagging frequent flyer.  While using airplanes is very important to me since I am my own owner-operator pilot, it is also very important to thousands of small communities.  The Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) produced some great studies that outline the 1.2 million jobs that are sustained by one flight after another.  Many Governors themselves depend on private pilots themselves, or are familiar with how worldwide aircraft manufacturing is lead from states like Kansas, Georgia, Missouri, or Washington.

Like most freedoms, the price to use it is responsibility.

A Proud History of Flying Missouri Bombers

By Travis H. Brown

These days, lobbying for defense contracts within the U.S. Air Force is big money for the Saint Louis RegionBoeing St. Louis appears to have scored a large contract for C-17s, a great flying aircraft that I have had the pleasure to operate (at least from their very elegant flight simulator at Lambert Field).

I believe that aviation can touch all of our lives in meaningful ways, even if it is primarily-designed for our Armed Forces, and not Southwest Airlines.  One great way to share these experiences is from looking backwards into our past.

To experience aviation history, our Saint Louis Science Center has wonderful exhibits that go back at least to Charles Lindbergh here.  Other wonderful collections, such as Boeing Field’s Museum of Flight, also have a wonderful array of living metal history.

But, let’s be clear:  nothing beats flying the real thing off a runway.  This week, in Jefferson City, Missouri, of all places, was an authentic B-17 Flying Fortress.  The notion that aviators (like my uncle in WWII) could equip gunners to invade the Pacific or Berlin in this tail-dragging plane still seems amazing.

If you get a chance to kick the tires of this aircraft, or even fly in one with an EAA aviation program like this one in Jefferson City, jump on it!  Along the way, if a veteran helped make your adventure possible, give him or her thanks for his/her services for our freedoms.

Here’s a quick video lobbying you in case you can head up near the State Capitol to see this bird in person.