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Paris Air Show Aerogare USA Public Weekend

As the most recognizable exhibition in Aviation Industry, the Paris Air Show attracts more than 300,000 visitors the third week of June every two years.

Nearly 140,000 trade professionals visit the tradeshow Monday through Friday.

But it’s the two-day public weekend that packs an even more impressive punch--when as many as 175,000 enthusiastic visitors of all ages wait in line to see what’s new and exciting on the ground--and in the air!                      

Throughout the Public weekend, the airshow is undeniably the center ring attraction and never fails to make an indelible impression on the eyes and ears.  The “static” display area, where the jets and planes are parked, features some of the world’s newest and most exciting aircraft.

But the rest of the site at le Bourget—the interior trade halls--are typically abandoned by the exhibiting companies by Friday evening, leaving weekend visitors to wander through mostly vacant buildings.

Kallman Worldwide has organized the U.S. International Pavilion at the Paris Air Show since 1995. In 2013, Kallman celebrated its 50th anniversary, was also coincided with the 50th edition of the Paris Air Show itself.

Tom Kallman, president and CEO of Kallman Worldwide and a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and F-15 pilot, decided to celebrate the company’s anniversary, its long relationship with the Paris Air Show, and his pride in the American spirit by showing the weekend audience the best the USA had to offer in aviation, education, tourism—and fun.

*Insert TK video

Months of stateside planning became a reality Friday evening, as the Kallman Paris Air Show onsite team worked overnight to convert the international business-focused pavilion into a family educational and amusement experience.

Saturday morning, thousands of French families were surprised and delighted to see “’Aérogare USA’ or (Terminal USA),” a fun and colorful hands-on multi-media experience in the U.S. Pavilion—the only display area in the entire show of its kind designed just for families and aviation enthusiasts of all ages.

Entering the attraction through an airport style departure gate, every visitor was greeted by a Kallman staff member and presented a “boarding pass,” listing the different stops in the attraction.

An overhead screen showed departure times, and Tom Kallman and Aerospace Program Director Gerri Cozic led the “tourists” through the archway to the start of their journey at Voyage eh tourisme USA or “Travel USA,” a walkway lined with travel brochures from U.S. states, national parks and amusement destinations. The visitors strolled the red white and blue carpet, and hardly a visitor could resist stopping and taking a photo with President Obama and First Lady Michelle, but life-size cutouts of Mini and Mickey, and Uncle Sam were pretty popular as well.

Just beyond the travel to USA area, the next planned stop was the U.S. military display.  Travelers learned the rich history of the world’s largest and most powerful air defense agency – the U.S. Air Force – from airmen present, as well as from videos and 3D scaled models.   Alongside that exhibition were the French members of the American Legion based in France, who enthralled crowds throughout the day with their personal wartime recollections, some as far back as World War II. 

After posing with the veterans for photos, the visitors moved to the “Duty-Free” desk, where they could choose from a wide variety of free gifts, donated by Kallman Worldwide and numerous American exhibitors.   These gifts were “Made in the USA,” and ranged from stickers, to computer thumb drives, and baseball caps, and the always popular “peens”.

Drawn by the smell of popcorn, the guests then entered the “First Class Lounge”, formerly the U.S. Exhibitors ‘meeting point’ during the trade week.

There, even the most serious visitor could not resist the fun of the jeux de carnival, or carnival games. Kallman staff members traded the business suits, ties and high heels of the past week for aquamarine tee-shirts and sneakers to paint the faces of Parisian toddlers and color with them on tot-size furniture. Visitors, staff and even the chief executive officer of the Paris Air Show, danced to videogames and tried their hands on one of the four high-tech games and flight simulators set up in there.  “There were dog fights and dancing everywhere.” 

* Insert Gerri video

Popcorn, a soft drink, and chocolate chip cookies for everyone—and nobody left unhappy.

The last stop on the tour was the “110 Years of Flight” gallery. This multimedia display showcased the remarkable history of aviation with a movie theater, model aircraft and dozens of giant, engaging visuals of the pillars of aerospace from the Wright Brothers to Charles Lindbergh to Neil Armstrong.   Earlier in the week, Lunar pioneer Buzz Aldrin previewed the display honoring Apollo 11’s epic journey.

* Insert Buzz Aldrin photo

Nearly 5,000 visitors left the 2013 International Paris Air Show with gifts, photos, and happy memories of figure eights…nosedives…but perhaps most importantly a new perspective on America and our role in aviation and as friends. 

The Lancet gift to Al Maktoum Library

Paris Air Show.