As most of you will recall, Stan called it a day at the end of January 2008, whilst allowing 'us' time to find an alternative home. After various forays', a large number expressed dissatisfaction and I decided to copy the style, location and name on the 16th of February 2008. Gadfly made the second 'comment', which really set the tone in those early days:-
"Put on the kettle, and this will seem like home in no time."
The record will show that this was one of the very few one line comments from Gadfly, who later had the courage to stand up for the defense of our 'home' in a very practical way. Thanks again, Gadfly, in case you didn't hear me the first time.
During those first 6 weeks, we managed to have a variety of interesting and wide ranging discussions on the price of oil, the first bank collapse, the Russian factory and the possibility of EAC raising funds at Oshkosh by selling T shirt 'positions'. A series of valuable contributions came to the blog via the blog email address (email@example.com) from suppliers, customers, depositors and, in particular, staff. We also got the first signs of trouble with the FAA.
April was a huge month, beginning with the confirmation that Avio NG would be 'completed' by the Garmin G400's and gathered pace with the announcement of yet another 'special offer' to raise funds. But the action of the Wedge that truly raised the stakes was his attempted SLAPP suit against 29 named bloggers. Turns out this was a really serious mistake by Wedge, who suddenly found himself in the media spotlight for all the wrong reasons. If he was right, and the Honor Roll really did work at EAC, then he was attempting to hide wrongdoings by his company. As it happens, he was wrong and had simply been trying to prevent free speech. Or at least the words he didn't like, as his own actions with Brian Skupa at the same time were rather extreme by any standards.
The month of May included the scaling back at DayJet, increased press coverage of the blog, words from suppliers and staff that all was not right at EAC and various legal actions funded by Rich Lucibella (a.k.a Gunner) who had undertaken the formal defense of the Honor Roll. In the background various attempts were made by EAC lawyers to reach a 'settlement' but Rich was having none of it. He knew that Wedge was on the roasting spit and wanted to turn it a few times. The month closed with the formal announcement of the Con Jet and a price increase for the FPJ.
June contained a few real gems, one of which sticks out, from Shadow:-
"Oh, how I love to watch a cash arsonist at work."
The best definition yet of the Wedge, and a reminder of how some of the best comments are the one liners. The month also saw healthy discussion on the 'Stuck Throttles' including an excellent headline post by Karen Di Piazza and a stellar parody from Black Tulip on the little known crew monitoring systems, FOQA. Read it and weep.
July began with my 'Tales of woe' headline, and the first indications that refunds due after the price increase had not been paid. It ended with the Wedge's departure, which he was forced to announce his own firing at one of the early Oshkosh press briefings. What a way to go. Other highlights included the increased participation by suppliers and staff, and a much higher visibility for the blog on Google, in the aviation media and through the mainstream press. It was a busy month all round.
August and September were varied. We started with the end of the EAC action against the Honor Roll, moved through the DoT IG investigation of the TC and PC awards, had the 'operational excellence' program (fire almost half the staff) from Roel Peiper and had that surprise visit from our old friend Ken Meyer. In the background, suppliers in particular were wailing at me about not getting paid, and the usual roll of legal actions against EAC seemed to gather pace. The 'die hards' were also having real issues with how they were being treated and I started to listen to the various conference calls that took place between EAC management, customers and suppliers. Mike McConnell in particular came across as a self serving twerp of the worst sort. My only regret is that he works in aviation and not in my field of activity, for one of my competitors.
October and November began with another AD for the FPJ, continued with the closure of DayJet, saw our 50th headline post and our 10,000th comment and had the 'Nuclear Winter' speech from the Wedge at the VLJ conference in Florida. It continued with more word from depositors issuing proceedings, a flood of negative press comments on the future viability of EAC, saw the staff unpaid for a short period and finished with the Chapter 11 action by the management. Phew, they were busy months....
December was much quieter, where I seem to have been appointed (by customers and depositors) as the official clearing house for the various groups formed after the Chapter 11 proceedings. We finished with Black Tulip, who was kind enough to see the funny side of a group of lawyers inviting the Wedge to speak at an upcoming event on bankruptcy. Who would have thought American lawyers saw the funny side of things?
So, there you have it. 2008 has left us and the New Year opens on a positive note. We are all still (more or less) in one piece, EAC struggles on and the next two weeks will determine what the short to medium term holds for suppliers, customers, staff and depositors. Shareholders know they are last in the queue, unless of course, you name happens to be Roel Peiper. The remaining banks are very reluctant to fund anything, a new and untested American President has enough problems to test Superman and every company in aviation is shedding workers and/or scaling back product development. The auction results from the 'bidding process' for EAC will make interesting reading on the 14th.
Oh, and a Happy New Year to one and all.