Visit to the Farnborough Airshow
Alongside the ILA Berlin Airshow and the Paris Airshow at Le Bourget, the Farnborough Airshow, being held at the moment, is the third large aerospace exhibition in Europe. My first visit to this event involved aviation and space to an equal extent. The journey there, access and my schedule presented major challenges, and surmounting these made for an interesting trip, albeit one with a few rough edges.
On the evening of 9 July, I had the honour of being a keynote speaker at an event on the topic of sustainable spaceflight and energy at the Brussels office of the German Federal State of Baden-Württemberg. Early on the morning of 10 June, we boarded the Eurostar and headed through the Channel Tunnel to London… four train changes later we reached the trade fair grounds well before the scheduled time. But just moments later, a problem threw the entire schedule off course; the security manager at the entrance did not like my laser pointer. A specialist was duly called, but even after a twenty-minute wait, failed to show up. I therefore informed David Williams, CEO of the UK Space Agency, with whom I had my first appointment. It took an extended phone call between David and the security manager to convince her that I did not constitute any kind of threat. Due to this, all subsequent appointments were thrown into disarray.
As well as one-to-one meetings, I attended the General Assembly of ACARE and was elected to the post of Vice Chair. During this trade fair visit, I met David Willets, the British Minister of State for Universities and Science, as well as the Italian Minister of Education, Francesco Profumo, both of whom expressed interest in fostering closer contacts with Germany. After a day filled with appointments, we then made our way by train and bus to Heathrow Airport to embark on our homeward journey.
Even though these visits to trade fairs are always very stressful affairs, it becomes apparent time and again that these brief contacts, though lacking in-depth discussions or firm agreements, are nonetheless helpful as they establish and strengthen personal connections that can assist with any discussions that may arise in the future.
Image: Exhibit at Farnborough Airshow, Credit: ESA / S. Corvaja.