Press conferences at the National Business Aviation Association convention are normally very staid affairs. The room is darkened. A company official trudges through a PowerPoint designed to inspire the audience with the firm’s success. Perhaps a video clip or two are shown. A few questions are asked by the audience, then answered. End of show.
But not at this year’s Embraer press conference. After a presentation emphasizing the company’s enhancements to the Phenoms, the new Legacy 450 and 500, and the improvements to the Lineage 1000E, Embraer Executive Jets’ president Ernest Edwards threw the crowd off balance a bit. Mentioning Embraer’s progress in China, Edwards quickly segued into introducing action-movie star Jackie Chan. All heads turned—and there he was, beaming his trademark grin. He was next to me!
Chan has been serving as a promotional figure for Embraer for the past year, following his purchase of an Embraer Legacy 650. After making his way past a snowballing crowd, Chan took the podium. He said he uses his 650 all the time, shuttling between China and Los Angeles, as well as many other places around the world. He even volunteered his airplane to send food and water to disaster-stricken areas of China.
Chan was at the press conference for yet another announcement: He will be the launch customer for Embraer’s new Legacy 500. Reporters dutifully jotted all this down, then mobbed Chan as he grabbed a huge Legacy 500 model and hoisted it off its stand. He mugged a lot. I edged as close as the scrum would let me, my pitiful iPhone held high. All around me, the shutters of $5,000 Canons and Nikons machine-gunned away.
“Hey Jackie,” I yelled. He turned toward me and I hit the button. I got the shot. Well, a shot. And then he was gone.