Kentucky Derby... A Truly Special Event
CONTRIBUTOR: Jay Hamby
Is it that time of the year again? The Kentucky Derby is just around the corner, but the planning for this year’s event has been going on for months... actually its been years in the making.
To pull off a successful “special event” the planning starts immediately after the last one has finished. So now we are in the process of making final preparations to all of our plans as we ready our employees, prepare our facility, enhance our procedures, and welcome our customers to this year’s Kentucky Derby, which is in its 141st iteration.
I have been working the Derby event ever since Louisville became a part of my Region in 2011. I remember my first Derby experience well. From the moment the planes started arriving on Thursday and until they departed by early Sunday afternoon, I was absolutely amazed at the amount of activity I witnessed. Although I’ve worked various conventions and events over the years, I found that this event made the most profound impression on me. I also remember how tired and defeated I felt after my first Derby. As I looked upon the faces of all the other team members that helped work the event, I could tell they all felt the exact same way that I did. The overriding feeling I had was that this event was organized chaos… and that is not to disparage anyone who helped work the event. This was simply a wild ride and we were all just trying to hold on.
In 2012, I vowed to be more observant and look for ways to improve the experience for all stakeholders. Again, the activity seemed overwhelming, and the plan seemed to be off the mark. It was just as frenzied as the year before. The only difference was the weather; instead of being cold and wet, it was hot and humid. To this day I can’t remember which of my first two Derby experiences seemed worse but I know they both felt rough.
The next year we really worked hard to improve our staff quality, our service delivery plan, and added more equipment. We also worked with our corporate IT department to put together an interface that we came to know as Ramp Management Light (RML). Kris Mayle worked diligently on creating a Special Event Plan that was Derby centric. She was instrumental in making this all come together and the team she assembled worked our plan flawlessly. Staff that worked previous Derby events were amazed by the effectiveness of the plan, exclaiming that it seemed like a night and day difference! We all worked just as hard as we did in the previous two Derby’s, however this time there was a difference. While we were all physically tired, we weren’t mentally exhausted and we actually felt exhilarated by what we all accomplished. That is the difference you can make when you have a good plan, complete company support, effective leadership, and a dedicated team! Now people were actually excited about working the Derby and couldn’t wait to find ways to better the plan for the next year. And you know what, we did. In 2013 almost everything worked flawlessly… except ground transportation. By the time we got to 2014 we had totally re-worked our ground transportation plan and in 2014 it ran as smooth as silk!
Atlantic Aviation has once again enhanced the flight support plan for the 2015 Derby, guaranteeing our customers a great service experience. Our top talent is coming from all over the country to support the event, including trained flight traffic control personnel located on-site and in the control tower enhancing our communications for arrivals and departures. Additionally, we have invested in passenger shuttle vehicles, new fuel trucks, additional tow equipment, increased catering support equipment and enhanced technology that will enable us to be extremely efficient in handling all aircraft and taking care of your needs. As we all come together once again, we look forward to another safe and successful event.
If you plan on flying into SDF Atlantic, we encourage you to submit your online reservation through our website. We’ll gladly contact you back to confirm all services. https://www.atlanticaviation.com/location/SDF#make-a-reservation
You may also view a NOTAM with special air traffic procedures for SDF HERE.