U.S. Army helicopter summit falls victim to coronavirus

In a cascade of COVID-19 -related cancellations, on March 13 the U.S. Army’s largest rotorcraft-specific conference fell victim to the coronavirus that is spreading across the globe.

A national U.S. state of emergency issued to slow transmission of coronavirus and the recommendation from health officials that people avoid large groups and practice “social distancing” to prevent its spread have made holding huge networking confabs all but impossible, say organizers.

U.S. Army AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade
AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. U.S. Army/Visual Information Specialist Pascal Demeuldre Photo
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Scheduled for April 22 to 24 in Nashville, Tennessee, the Army Aviation Association of America, commonly called Quad-A, was forced to shutter its annual summit after the Army cancelled all unnecessary travel and conference attendance at least through April 24.

“We have decided we must cancel our April 2020 AAAA Nashville based Mission Summit,” retired Army major general and AAAA president Jim Schloesser, said in a March 13 statement. “We will be looking at options in the coming weeks for AAAA to support expanded networking opportunities later this year at our other longstanding annual events.”

The cancellation comes after the Association of the U.S. Army cancelled its spring conference, called Global Force Symposium, in Huntsville, Alabama, scheduled for March 17 to 19.

“For the health and safety of all of our members and the participants in Global Force, canceling next week’s event is, regrettably, the right decision,” said retired general Carter Ham, AUSA’s president and CEO. “We will all miss the professional opportunities that have come to be so highly regarded at Global Force, but we’ll also miss the welcoming community of Huntsville. Mark your calendars for Global Force 2021, scheduled for March 16 to 18.”

On March 11, the Secretary of Defense announced travel restrictions for 60 days for service members, DoD civilians and families traveling to, from, or through high-risk locations.

The following day, Maryland banned any gatherings of more than 250 people, which was the nail in the coffin for the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Conference scheduled for April 12 to 14 at National Harbor, just south of Washington, D.C. on the Potomac River.

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None of the conferences will be rescheduled. Major conferences that are scheduled further from the current outbreak, like AUSA’s annual expo in Washington, D.C., are still on for now.

Quad-A will be sending additional instructions to registrants as it works through the logistics of cancelling the event and refunding fees. Schloesser said no cancellation penalties will apply for hotels or event registrations. Separate guidance will be sent to exhibitors and sponsors.

“We recognize the impacts this has on our national awardees and their families and especially our new Hall of Fame members about to be inducted,” he said. “We will make sure you are all appropriately honored at a later date.”

The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, scheduled for May 5 to 7 in Boston, Massachusetts, has at least been postponed, with a tentative rain check date of Aug. 10 to 12.

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