Commission Strategy and Operations

The Commission invested considerable time during the fiscal year developing a strategy and set of operational policies to guide its subsequent activities. The following sections discuss Commission roles and objectives, a high-level Commission communications and outreach strategy, initial logo usage and calendar of events policies, and Commission operations.

Commission Roles and Objectives
Congress established the Centennial of Flight Commission as a facilitating and advisory, as opposed to operational, body. The preamble of the Centennial of Flight Commemoration Act, for example, refers to establishing the Commission to "assist in commemoration" of the centennial of powered flight. Similarly, section 5(a) tasks the Commission to "provide recommendations and advice to the President, Congress, and Federal agencies" related to the Centennial celebration (all underlining added). In addition, section 5(c) directs the Commission to avoid duplicating "traditional and established activities" of any other organization of national stature or prominence. This overall posture of a coordinating and supporting, as opposed to implementing, role is reinforced by the relatively small amounts of funds appropriated by Congress for use by the Commission.

Nonetheless, the celebration of the centennial of powered flight represents a unique opportunity for the Nation to focus on the historical significance of the aviation-related events leading up to, and following, December 17, 1903. This is a celebration not simply about a single event, but also about a century of powered human flight. Our vision, persistence and ingenuity have taken us from the dunes at Kitty Hawk to the surface of the moon in the course of that century. There are literally thousands of unsung heroes spread across that century--people whose ability to dream of flight was only surpassed by their ability to make it happen. Their efforts have revolutionized our world, and the milestones they have achieved are the guideposts to aviation history. More importantly, the celebration represents an opportunity to stimulate a new generation of inventors, innovators, and dreamers. The Commission will, therefore, pursue an overall strategy - focused on a small number of high-payoff activities - that will enable it to balance this broad and important mission against a limited set of resources.

Specifically, the Commission will focus its efforts on:

  • Providing recommendations and advice to the President, Congress, and Federal agencies on the most effective ways to encourage and promote national and international participation in commemoration of the centennial of powered flight;
  • Increasing awareness of the Centennial celebration; and
  • Encouraging and promoting State and local centennial-related activities via communication and coordination.
Recommendations and Advice. The Commissioners, both as individuals and as representatives of their respective organizations, and the Commission's advisory body are in a position to call upon a variety of perspectives in addressing issues related to the centennial celebration. As directed by legislation, the Commission will provide advice and recommendations in a variety of areas regarding appropriate activities for commemorating the centennial, as well as for encouraging broad national and international sponsorship of such activities.

Awareness of the Centennial. Two basic strategies will be used by the Commission to enhance the national awareness and impact of the Centennial. First, the Commission will work to increase the impact of currently planned events and activities (e.g., attendance at specific events, circulation of published works) via the Web site, Calendar of Events, press releases, and media interviews. Second, the Commission will initiate contact with individuals and organizations to encourage additional events and activities. Commission activities in these areas will have both direct and indirect benefits. For example, "spreading the word" to increase the general awareness of the centennial and centennial-related events will, of course, increase the national impact of the celebration by increasing event attendance. In addition, increased awareness of both specific events and the Centennial in general will help build a "brand identity" and will increase the value of the Commission logo to any events licensed by NASA to use it (thereby reinforcing the primary strategic goal of supporting local and State activities).

The Commission and Commission staff, therefore, will be proactive in working with the media and other suitable channels (within a limited budget and not in duplication of other efforts) to ensure a broad national and international awareness of the Centennial, again with an emphasis on the major centennial events in North Carolina and Ohio, and to encourage the initiation and development of additional commemorative activities. A portion of this effort will be directed toward developing or encouraging alliances and coalitions (including international partners) to maximize overall impact and available resources. The focus of the Commission will, of course, be to encourage other organizations and individuals to plan and carry out celebration activities, not to get into the details or implementation of any specific activity. A variety of interests and goals on the part of event and activity sponsors can, and should be, supported while maintaining the common direction and mission of the Commission.

State and Local Activities. The primary effort of the Commission will be geared toward promoting centennial-related events, such as those being planned for the states of Ohio and North Carolina. In most instances, such support will take the form of:

  • Publicizing aviation history and centennial-related events and activities, via inclusion in the Commission's Web-based Calendar of Events and other appropriate mechanisms, consistent with an overall communications and outreach strategy;
  • Coordinating with sponsors of other centennial-related activities to maximize the exchange of ideas, ensure the broadest range of educational and historical products speaking to the widest possible audience, and minimize conflicts having to do with event dates and requirements for finite resources (e.g., historical artifacts, key public figures);
  • Encouraging national and international participation and sponsorships by individuals, institutions, organizations, and governments;
  • Coordinating with, and advising, other Federal departments and agencies to address issues related to centennial events; and
  • Recommending to NASA which selected events and activities should use the Commission's logo, based on the policy and criteria discussed in more detail below.
To summarize, the Commission's strategic thrusts are to: 1) provide additional recommendations and advice as directed by legislation; 2) engage in communications and coordinating activities to raise the general awareness of the Centennial and to encourage the development of additional events and activities aimed at celebrating the centennial of powered flight; and, 3) support planned centennial-related events in Ohio, North Carolina, and other states via communication, coordination, and education.

While it is difficult to establish detailed outcome metrics for these goals, success will generally be measured in the number of media interviews, articles, reports, Web site "hits", etc., generated by the Commission's communication efforts, the number of events and related activities that occur, and the success of those major events.

Communications and Outreach Strategy
The primary communications goal for the Commission is to promote efforts to explain the significance of a century of flight to the largest possible audience. As discussed above, this entails in large measure the twin goals of increasing attendance at events and increasing the number of quality events. In addition, the Commission will work with other organizations to create and disseminate to the appropriate audiences educational and historical products about a century of flight. Commission recommendations and operational activities will therefore be focused on communications and related efforts that will result in progress toward these goals.

Increasing Attendance At Events. Individuals who will participate in centennial-related events may be divided at a high-level into three segments: (1) aviation and aerospace enthusiasts; (2) educators and students; and (3) the general public. Commission recommendations and any operational communications and outreach activities in this area will consist primarily of efforts to publicize the centennial in general, as well as to publicize specific events as they draw nearer in time. The overall message may differ according to which audience is being targeted (e.g., focusing on the "pride and passion" of aviation for the enthusiasts, how aviation "changed the world" for the general audience, or educational emphases for students). The Commission's Web site and associated Calendar of Events will be a primary channel for reaching any segment. The Commission will augment the Website with more active dissemination of information via press releases, as well as by working in an advisory capacity with other entities to encourage the distribution of additional information to the press, schools, libraries, and other channels as appropriate.

As with all Commission activities, these efforts will be designed to complement, and not compete with, currently planned State or local efforts. In particular, the Commission will target communications opportunities available to a national commission that would otherwise not be available to State and local entities.

Increasing the Number of Events. The Commission's recommendations and communications efforts will also focus on encouraging individuals, organizations, alliances and national and international coalitions to plan and carry out additional events and activities. The aerospace industry and the education community are two of the larger segments of interest in this regard. (Museums, publishers, and perhaps other Federal agencies may represent additional discrete segments.) Again, the message used with each segment will differ. For example, in working with the aerospace industry, the Commission may remind industry leadership that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the industry and to reinforce the importance of the industry to millions of people, both in the United States and worldwide. In working with the education community, the Commission will stress the impact of centennial activities on younger audiences; perhaps using messages such as "celebrate the centennial of flight and watch a new generation take wing."

The Commission's Web site will play a major role in reaching these segments, particularly by providing information on the centennial and other quality resources that can be used by event and activity developers. To have maximum impact in this area, more proactive contacts with potential sponsoring organizations will be necessary.

Logo Use Policy
Under Section 9 of the Centennial of Flight Commemoration Act, as amended, the NASA Administrator, after consultation with the Commission, may make the Commission's logo available for use through licensing in a variety of ways, including endorsements, sponsorships, and product licensing. Commission advice to NASA relating to the use of the logo will be consistent with the overall strategy outlined above.

In order to maintain the value of the logo, the Commission recommends to NASA that NASA adopt a controlled use of the Commission logo. Specifically, the Commission will review and endorse specific events based on a clearly-defined process and set of criteria. The Commission will then recommend to NASA that events that have been so endorsed be allowed to:

  • Display the logo in conjunction with the event and event advertising;
  • Use the endorsement as an aid in promoting the event to potential sponsors, donors, and/or partners; and
  • Enter into product licensing arrangements with NASA that include use of the Commission logo.
In addition, as a secondary activity, the Commission staff will identify and recommend to NASA independent product licensing activities designed to add to the value of the logo (i.e., strengthened brand identity) and to raise the general awareness of the Centennial and related events. Staff will also define criteria for the suitability of specific product licensing opportunities to assist the Commission in assessing potential opportunities and making its recommendations to NASA.

Calendar of Events Policy
Developing and maintaining a Web -based Calendar of Events is one of the more prominent activities identified in the legislation for implementation by the Commission itself. To help foster a greater awareness of the Centennial and related events, the Commission will accept a broad range of events for inclusion in the calendar.

Specifically, an event (national or international) will be accepted for inclusion in the calendar if it:

  • Is sponsored by a reputable organization that is willing to provide basic details about itself and its event;
  • Is open to the public or has a large invited attendance; and
  • Has some relevance to the centennial of powered flight or the history of aviation.
In addition, the Commission will review events, via a clearly-defined process and an established set of criteria. Events that "score" high against these criteria will be identified as "endorsed" by the Commission and highlighted as such on the calendar. (As described above, the Commission recommends to NASA that such endorsement makes the event eligible for use of the Commission logo.)

Independent of the final decision on specific inclusion criteria, the Commission will incorporate a disclaimer into the Calendar of Events stating the criteria for any endorsement and clarifying that such endorsement is not a Government guarantee of event occurrence or quality.

Commission Operations
Given the structure of the Commission, much of the operational work of the Commission will be implemented via the Commission staff and other employees of the Federal agencies represented on the Commission. However, since the primary focus of the Commission lies not in operational activities but in advisory activities, the Commission itself has a major role to play. Staff activities and Commission meeting agendas, therefore, will be structured to reflect the strategy and policies proposed above. Specifically, quarterly meeting agendas will typically include time to:

  • Receive presentations from, and provide advice to, major event planners;
  • Develop recommendations regarding appropriate activities to commemorate the centennial, as required by legislation;
  • Review and disposition proposed endorsements (and develop associated product licensing recommendations to NASA, if necessary); and
  • Address ad hoc issues of conflict and coordination;
As required, the Commission will also:

  • Review and approve proposed Commission Staff plans and activities (e.g., outreach and communications);
  • Review proposed budgets, recommend budgets to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and propose expenditures to the FAA or to NASA for execution; and
  • Review and approve annual reports to Congress.
Agenda time will also be used for special topics (such as items in past meetings related to logo use policy and calendar policy).

The Commission will delegate appropriate matters to Staff, such as accepting items for inclusion in the calendar. As sufficiently explicit operational criteria are developed, the Commission will also delegate other recurring decisions to Staff, potentially including event endorsement and recommendations to NASA regarding product licensing approvals.

Centennial of Flight | Main Page | Table of Contents