Having just returned from the aerial firefighting show in Europe held in Greece, the most important thing that I came away from after this show, and the two previous installments held in Seattle, Washington, and Dubbo, NSW, Australia, is this industry would not be what it is without the massive collaborative efforts that occur annually.
The Tangent Link shows are an excellent example of collaborating for a common good. Although Tangent Link is a private company, they collaborate with key partners across the world to bring together both vendors and industry representatives to host shows that further the common good of Aerial Firefighting and bring people together from all over the world who may not otherwise have a venue to talk with each other and share ideas, experiences and best practices that may otherwise be stored as tribal knowledge within a company or firefighting operation.
At the shows this year, evidence of collaboration was everywhere, from vendors collaborating with customers to purchase goods to collaborating for a common goal on a specific product that would benefit the industry. A great example of that is the collaboration between Helitak Firefighting Equipment and McDermott Aviation, who announced shortly before the AFFE show in Greece a collaborative effort to build the first fixed-wing aerial firefighting tank for the C-160 for McDermott, themselves moving into a new area in the fixed wing world that without collaboration with Helitak, may not have been possible to achieve. Examples like this happen often in our industry segment and throughout it regularly.
Collaboration is a crucial piece of aerial firefighting, without which we would all not be as successful at putting out fires or our respective slice of the industry from which we exist. Even from my perspective in the magazine, we would not be able to achieve what we have over the last several years without collaborating with the dozens of customers and operators we feature each year in the publication.
During the pandemic, many operators faced severe challenges in delivering their products worldwide, getting aircraft where they needed to be and operating where they needed to. Collaboration between operators and state, federal, and local agencies was never more vital than it was through the pandemic. Those experiences created longstanding bonds between operators and customers that will not soon be forgotten.
The same goes for many of us at shows worldwide that foster years-long relationships from vendor to vendor or vendor to agencies that continue to pay dividends to those who know the value of collaborative efforts.
Sometimes, collaborating does not have an end goal other than to help someone else achieve a goal, much like mentoring someone new in the industry to navigate the pitfalls of the industry. Those lessons are hard to learn alone and much easier when you have an industry veteran to help you navigate. Those long-lasting relationships have a way of paying off through collaborative efforts to reach a common goal, which sounds simple when you say “put the wet stuff on the hot stuff” as a common goal. Still, as we all know, there are thousands more pieces to that much-simplified puzzle, and it is often made much easier when you have the right people to collaborate with to achieve the right results.