When we first introduced Kayla Layton as our new Team Communications Coordinator in December of 2014, we had a lot of interest in what all the job entailed. Now that she has had a chance to settle in, we thought it would be a good time to sit down and ask Kayla about the position through her eyes.
Q: The team had some large events in July, tell us about those?
KL: The team spent the first week of July in Budapest for the fourth stop of the 2015 Red Bull Air Races. As with all races, the competition is high and the team is extremely busy with full schedules leading up to the two big days, Qualifying and Race Day. We finished the month with air shows at AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI, and the Global Rally Cross in Detroit, MI.
Q: How far in advance does the planning process begin for an air race?
KL: I start preparing as early as a few months in advance with flight booking and hotel arrangements for the team. As they get closer, I start receiving schedules and map out how the week will go.
Q: What about an air show the size of AirVenture at Oshkosh?
KL: With an air show like AirVenture, preparations can begin almost a year in advance. There is a lot of schedule coordinating that happens along the way, not only with the team’s schedule, but with our sponsors as well.
Q: Who do you work closest with in order to make the necessary preparations?
KL: For both types of events, staying in constant communication with the team is a top priority to ensure all needs are met in regards to schedules and travel amenities. For the air races, I work most directly with the Race Teams Coordinator and Scheduler. Alternatively, for air shows and events like AirVenture, most communications are with the event coordinator and our team sponsors.
Q: What does a typical day look like when at one of these events?
KL: A book could be written about all the tiny details that happen at these events! At the races, I’m constantly watching for schedule updates to make sure everyone is where they need to be. There is obviously a lot of flying that occurs every day, but outside of flying, there are many meetings that are fit into the schedule: technician meetings, pilot’s briefing/debriefings, team coordinator meetings. Add in hangar walks, reviewing of time sheets/video footage, autograph signings, and meals, and the team is fully booked!
Unlike the races where the schedule details are somewhat consistent, each air show is a bit different. While practice flights are a given for all shows, some events include coordinating interviews with media. At others, Kirby will spend time at sponsor booths meeting fellow aviation enthusiasts from across the globe. Sometimes we do all of this and then some!
Q: We’ve heard a lot about the air races and air shows. What do you do when you aren’t at one of these events?
KL: Preparing for events and managing all team member’s schedules is a large portion of what I do, but I am also a main point of contact for our sponsors and media partners.
For example, I spend a lot of time working with GoPro and our cameras. We put an average of four cameras on the airplane almost every flight, which produces a TON of footage! A fifteen-minute flight alone produces over 450 photos per camera! I then go through and pick out the best photos of the bunch to share on social media channels and/or use for promotional purposes.
In addition to my personal tasks, the team as a whole is involved in many activities outside of air shows and the air races. Working with sponsors often has Kirby giving rides to media members and celebrities. We’ve worked on projects with the Red Bull Air Force skydiving team, and even given talks to elementary school children to promote general aviation. In between all the scheduled activities, we spend time at the Flying Crown Ranch supporting Kirby as he practices and hones his skills.
No matter the time of year, we are always up to something; our social media channels are the best way to stay updated on all the different things the team partakes in!