HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Right now, there are likely Army aviators flying in hostile parts of the world and while they aren't thinking about what's happening in Huntsville this week, they could.
Because hundreds of people from the Army, from industry, and from the ranks of the passionately interested, are coming together to make Army aviation the very best that it can be.
The reason is straightforward. The Army Aviation Association of America (Quad-A) holds its annual Joseph P. Cribbins Aviation Sustainment Symposium because of the men and women who fly the Army's helicopters.
Huntsville is also the right place to be for other reasons.
"The uniqueness of Huntsville. We have the developers, the testers, the sustainers, and the acquisition program officers in one place," said Gary Nenninger, the President of Quad-A's Tennessee Valley Chapter.
With the Cribbins Symposium, you can add industry and certainly plenty of Army aviators. This, however, isn't your typical gathering. It does feel different.
"Actually, a family type of environment where we get together, exchange ideas and then make real decisions," said Retired Major General Jeffrey Schloesser, the President of the Association.
The General can talk family honestly. He is an Army veteran, an aviator who has been deployed, and understands what a gathering like the one at the Von Braun Center can mean.
"The changes that we made in an environment like this here in Huntsville really saved my soldiers in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, when we saw new threats," said General Schloesser.
His experience points out the importance of not only the various panel discussions and seminars for the hundreds of attendees, but the small conversations between actual operators and the industries that support them.
"The Colonels, the Warrant Officers from the command come over here and meet with industry, and industry gets honest answers to what we need and what our current issues are," said Gary Nenninger.
Once again, it all happens under the auspices of Quad-A. People who have been aviators or have worked in industry to support aviation care. They want to make sure the men and women flying today understand why. " Because I'm part of them. I'm one of them, and I will never forget it," said Schloesser.
The Cribbins Symposium runs through Thursday at the Von Braun Center North and East Halls. There are some 60-industry exhibitors, and more than 700 registered attendees.