Last week I wrote about a little something called the Bitcoin Jet. It’s the story of two men and an Aero L-39 Albatros with a giant bitcoin decal plastered along its sides.
The idea, plain and simple, is to evangelize bitcoin through the magic of aviation. Specifically, at air shows. So far, the most recent show took place in Idaho, and another show is planned in Las Vegas in early November.
I had the opportunity to ask the jet’s owner, Mr. Mark ‘Fidel’ Hale a few questions about the program, and what he revealed is nothing short of impressive.
Q: How did you come up with this idea?
A: I smile every time I think about it. You can tell when an idea just feels right… You did nail it with your ‘two guys, a jet, airshows…” comment in your article. You could not have described it better.
Sticky [Paul Strickland, Hale’s teammate] and I do proficiency training and this time were in Sonoma. We were having a cigar break looking at the jet. For 18 months I have been sharing with him about bitcoin. We talk regularly about the ups and downs and my passion. I shared with him that my belief is that lack of public awareness is the biggest thing keeping bitcoin from going to the next level. The innovators and early adopters are already onboard. The challenge is to simplify the message and to get to the early majority. … that was the aha moment. I said that we were already flying anyway… why not put the bitcoin logo on the jet and fly airshows. That would be a bad-ass way to evangelize bitcoin. We know from our experience with the patriots jet team that airshow attendees match the early adopter profile. It was a huge break through moment for us!
Q: What do you hope to get out of this?
A: We want to do our part to help the effort and thus our contribution is: evangelizing bitcoin to the majority through innovation.
What drives me personally as a technologist is disdain for dinosaur software. I see it all the time at hotel check-in, clipper (transit pass in the bay area), rental cars… everywhere. Financial platforms not only missed the chance to innovate but they continue to charge the public exuberant fees to use it. Bitcoin provides a meaningful disruption that I believe in.
Q: What has the feedback been like, particularly from those not familiar with bitcoin?
A: I think that we nailed ‘evangelism’. A few people know about ‘bitcoin’ as a name but really don’t know anything beyond that it is a virtual currency. Most people have not even heard about it so we get a ‘what’s that?’. Here are some inquiries that stand out in my mind:
+ What company is bitcoin? Originating from the logo on our jet. It is a great conversation starter about how bitcoin is not controlled by any one entity.
+ What does bitcoin do? After some trial and error, the promise of lower fees resonates best. It seems that everyone is getting hit with some kind of banking fee now. They also understand that merchant fees are passed to them.
+ I like having money in my pocket. We learned that the concept of printed/minted currency resonates well. I ask if they bought anything online or auto-pay and they understood that well.
The story that I remember so well is refueling the Bitcoin Jet at Battle Mountain, Nevada (50 miles east of Winnemuca, Nevada). Carla and Carrie drove the fuel truck over to meet us. Within minutes, the Bitcoin logo started a spirited discussion of all of the fees that they pay. I thought to myself, what an incredible opportunity to truly evangelize Bitcoin to everyone. What else would start a conversation like that? It reminds me of the early days of the Internet.
Q: Will air shows be conducted regularly?
A: Yes. We will be exhibiting at (BIT)COIN WORLD and the Las Vegas Airshow in November. We will work on a 2015 show season over the winter. Our idea now is to do a kick starter campaign to help sponsor the jet.
Special thanks to Mark for answering my questions.