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Thu, May 22, 2008

Last Call!! Aero-News Seeking Staffers For Oshkosh 2008... And Beyond

The Ride Of Your Life Could Start At AirVenture... It Did For Me

by ANN Managing Editor Rob Finfrock

It's a story I always share with great joy, and still a touch of wonderment... even a few years later. It was a lackluster day in late May of 2005, and I had just come off my lunch break at my job at the time -- as a customer service representative in Dallas for a building materials company.

As was my normal routine (and when your daily life is defined by the Dilbertian confines of a so-called 'team cubicle', "routine" is most definitely the operative word), before logging on for the afternoon shift of answering customer calls from Southern California, I checked out the day's aviation headlines on a little website called "Aero-News Network." And it was there I first saw the announcement, "ANN Looking For OSH Stringers."

Intrigued, I read on... and made note of a reference to Harry Chapin, one of my favorite singers of all time. I took that as a sign... and while I honestly didn't think I had a shot in central Florida of being accepted, I submitted some writings I had posted on my blog anyway, detailing my exploits as a student pilot.

I didn't hear anything after that... until three weeks before Oshkosh 2005 was set to kick off, when I got a call from some guy named Jim Campbell, asking if I was still interested in a stringer position.

Um, yeah...

A planned trip back home to Albuquerque for that week could wait; my parents would (and did) understand. I soon had a ticket to Oshkosh... and no idea what I had gotten myself into.

Those around me could see the excitement in my eyes, though. At an employee lunch the Friday before I was due to leave on an American Eagle flight to Milwaukee, one called me on it. "You're already gone," she laughed. "Your entire face shows it."

That look on my face (seen above, sitting in the navigator's station of the B-17 "Thunderbird") didn't leave after I returned, either. My boss at the time, Wayne, later told me he'd walked into the Human Resources office the morning I returned to work from Oshkosh, and told the director "I'm about to lose Rob." He was right; two months later, I was working full-time for Aero-News (with his blessing, no less.)

Why am I sharing this story? Simple... the time has come for ANN to once again accept applications for stringer positions, for our coverage of Oshkosh 2008. And I wanted to share my personal story of just where that opportunity can take you, if you so desire.

The only talents I brought to Oshkosh that year were a background in college journalism, my learnings to date as a student pilot, the ability to tell the difference between a Cessna 172 and Piper Arrow, and a strong desire and thirst for knowledge.

In addition to myself, a few of our former stringers also now work, full or part-time, for Aero-News. Others have gone ahead and created great opportunities for themselves, at least in part as a result of working with ANN.

If you have always wanted to see these events "from the inside," and you can write expertly and take photos -- believe me, there isn't a better way to do it, than to be a stringer at an event such as Oshkosh.

This year, we're looking for print writers, of course, as well as photographers... but we're especially seeking people with broadcasting skills, in either radio OR television/video production -- including people with experience in shooting and/or producing video segments.

At events like Oshkosh, we work in shifts to cover the most ground, have time to write it all up, and to digest the work in an efficient flow. There'll be plenty of fun to go around, as we cover hundreds of vendors and thousands of aircraft, pilots, and builders. What's your specialty -- ultralights, warbirds, racers, tube and rag? Great!

You don't even need to have a particular speciality -- a general love for aviation is all that's needed in that regard. We have plenty of needs, and there's plenty of aircraft and stories to go around. We will be examining a lot of your applications, and the process is workload-dependent, so -- sooner is better!

While we're eager to speak with all people who apply for special events coverage, we're also looking for people who may be interested in following a route similar to the path I took... who may be interested, down the road, in becoming a full-or-part-time ANN staffer. Events like Oshkosh (and NBAA, and AOPA Expo, and AEA, and Copperstate, and Reno...) provide fantastic on-the-job experience and training for what the ANN staff does every single day of the week. We're looking for a real "team"-player... someone who thinks outside the cockpit, as it were, and isn't afraid to share new ideas... no matter how crazy they may seem.

If you're interested, please send samples of your stories and shots, along with a little background, and tell us what your spring/summer availability will be. You'll be working with the most energetic team in aero-journalism, a group that goes where the stories are and brings 'em back for readers all over planet Earth.

  • Note: We've received several promising applications, and have conducted interviews with a number of applicants. No joke, folks -- if you haven't sent your resume in yet... this is your LAST CHANCE to do so for Oshkosh!

If you have audio skills, send along a clip of your work and a list of the software and equipment that you're comfortable working with. Ditto on video... if you have a sample of work to share, we can make arrangements for you to send it to us.

We also need a high-energy "gopher" for Oshkosh -- someone who can be counted on to run the numerous errands, arrange some meetings, and keep us up to date on whatever we may be missing. (Sadly, ANN lost a great friend of ours, who fulfilled this duty for many years, in February 2007.)

Let us know if any of these positions interest you... by sending your specs to the email link below. We look forward to hearing from you!

FMI: Stringers Wanted For 2008!

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