I just got back from Berlin with my Rugby Club on Sunday. Tuesday morning, before crack of sparrows, while still dark I drove to a colleague’s house ready for a drive back to Germany. The colleague whose house was the meeting point was not to come on this trip. New born baby was the reason. So 2 other colleague’s (and the wife of one of them) were to be my other travel companions.
We (the company I work for – http://www.rocketroute.com) were going to the largest General Aviation exhibition in Europe, situated in southern Germany – Aero Expo at Friedrichshafen. On the picturesque banks of Lake Constance (which the Germans can’t understand why we call it that, they call it Bodensee).
We had hired a van with seating and room for our exhibition stand and had about 12 hours of driving ahead. The Volkswagen transporter was the result. Comfortable seats and enough room for our luggage aswell. We were going to be away until the following Saturday but not actually home till Sunday. Down to Folkestone and the Channel Tunnel for a coffee and on to the train for the 30 minutes to Calais. Only 2 of the four were insured to drive so that was good. I could sleep (or at least try to sleep) on our way down.
After regular stops for snacks and baguette and coffee we made it through the spectacular countryside in France and Germany to Friedrichshafen. This town is also known as the home to the Zeppelin Airships and are working on the next generation of them in their vast hangar on the side of the airfield. The lake is spectacular and looks across to Switzerland and the Alps.
We had arrived about 4pm (1600) and set about setting up our stand. There to meet us was a lady the guys had met at last year’s event who was keen to assist this year. Thank you Susanne – your assistance was invaluable. We were on a corner plot in a hall so protected from any wind and rain. Having finished setting up, we retired (via shops to buy extras for the stand (adapters for our computers and sweets for children and customers)) to our hotel for dinner and to recover from the journey.
We were also expecting a program developer from Ukraine to join us so we were waiting to hear from him and see when he would arrive in town. He duly told us he had arrived so Uwe drove off to pick up Alex (who we had not met before – only on Skype).
We were up early on Wednesday – we had to be at the exhibition by 8am to finish off last-minute bits and pieces. It was an initiation for me as to how busy such a place could be. I was hoping as with through most of the week to get to see more of the exhibition. This was not to be. There was support to do although our colleagues back home were doing that. We spent the time demonstrating the system to potential customers and discussing problems with existing users. We were the busiest stand in our hall, and I think also very busy compared to other halls. We had to take lunch on the hoof, if we were lucky enough to get away even for that.
In the evening 2 people (Kurt and Uwe)when off for a business meeting, will the remainder (Susi, Alex and myself) went off for a meal on the banks of the Bodensee. Susi was able to advise some of the menu despite it being in English. Very enjoyable. We then went to a cocktail bar and had a cocktail.
Thursday was the same as yesterday – busy. We had got in a form of rhythm for working with our visitors. The sweets and Yellow tabards went down a storm yesterday so we had to try to ration the tabards at least. Our promotional offers were going down a storm. We still had 2 days left.
In the evening there was an award ceremony, to be held in the grounds of the Zeppelin factory. It was run by the German aviation Fliger magazine. RocketRoute were nominated for the 3rd year in a row. Unfortunately we didn’t win anything but had a great evening. Free drink and a fabulous buffet. There was a magician who was very funny and clever. After the awards he walked around the tables and did impromptu tricks.
The award of best contribution to aviation was made to Sigi Angerer of Red Bull. Such a great contribution to aviation all round. Back at the hotel Kurt and I got chatting to other exhibitors – for a night-cap. We saw other exhibitors in the morning and that was it. So it was good to meet and chat to them in a relaxed atmosphere.
Friday – about the same amount of people as Thursday. Popular comments and amazing number of people signing up too. A successful time in all. Another busy day and a relaxing time back at the hotel. Meal and drinks in their restaurant.
What I saw were amzing mix of aircraft types and models. There was a Diamond DA52-VII – twin piston engined 7 seater. Lovely aircraft. There was also teh ubiquitous Cessna Grand Caravan, Piper Malibu Meridien, PC12, Eclipse 550, Cirrus SR22 and the old venerable An2 on on outside staic display. There were obviously more but thee are teh ones I saw at close hand. There was also Cessna answers to teh Cirrus – the Corvalis TTX, In striking colours it does over 200kts. There weas also a Gyro copter. which alas did not fly when I was free. The otehr item misssing was teh Next gereantion Zepplin airship.
Saturday. Possibly the busiest day due to added members of the public. Our stand had an inflatable Rocket beside it and so many people made comments. One or two thought it was a bouncy castle. Thankfully it held up well. I did manage to sneak of and take some photos of some aircraft on show but not as many as I had hoped.
Towards the end of Saturday we packed up our stand and said our goodbyes. Alex was to stay another night and go home on Sunday. Susi, whose parents had turned up Friday stayed over to then take Susi back on Sunday towards their home near Dresden – 8hrs away or so. Kurt, myself, Uwe and his wife Renata, drove out-of-town towards home and decided to stay overnight at a hotel, 2hrs later to break up the journey after a long tiring day.
We stayed at a hotel on the German France border. The rooms seemed like a suite in a hospital! The breakfast was mush the same as our hotel for the exhibition but it set us up well for the drive home. We got back to the UK by 6pm and then an 1hour later were picking up our cars from where we left them.
A very good experience and an enjoyable one too. Next stop for RocketRoute – EBACE – Geneva. For me, another exhibition somewhere in Europe or maybe further afield with this growing company.