Paris Air Show opened yesterday for trade visitors during a downpour that clogged traffic, followed by a surprise visit from French president, Nicolas Sarkozy’s, which added to the craziness by sparking excitement among attendees and exhibitors.

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For SDD (GES’ UK division) the month-long set up came off with military precision. Work was directed from our 18,000-square-foot operations enclave that serves as our headquarters, located on the show grounds. The enclave includes a warehouse, communications center, air conditioning equipment, furniture storage, dining, engineering and graphic production. As the largest single contractor at the show this year, we have produced more than 75,000-square-feet of chalet and exhibit space along with 32,000-square-feet of landscaped space and managed a staff of more than 300. The projects were complete and turned over to our clients Friday. The weekend was spent responding to last minute requests as executive teams arrived on site.

Everyone at the show works together on behalf of their clients to make sure things run smoothly. Unfortunately, accidents happen and it’s our responsibility to be prepared for the unexpected. For example, upon arrival, the Airbus 380 Super Jumbo demonstrator taxied toward position in the display area, while making a turn, it clipped a wingtip on a building and was immediately grounded. Airbus was able to locate a Korean Air 380 to replace the damaged aircraft (thankfully).

Boeing, on the other hand has been flying high (keeping my fingers crossed). They announced pre-show sales of six, 777 planes to Qatar Airways. The 777 and new Boeing 747-8 Jumbo Jet dominated the display area.

As I predicted, alternative fuels and environmental issues are key topics at this year’s event, in fact, the world’s first solar-powered airplane; the Solar Impulse is on display and flying daily during the show. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some of the world’s most fearsome fighter jets are deafening the audience, compliments of Lockheed Martin F-16C and the Boeing F-15E. If you ever have the chance, this show is worth the visit. There’s nothing else like it in the world.

Do you have any questions about the 2011 Paris Air Show that you’d like to ask me? Ask them on our Facebook wall and I’ll answer them straight from the exhibition!

Signing off from Le Bourget, Paris and missing the ranch…