It was one of those fresh summer mornings announcing a clear and beautiful day. Miss McBride had her breakfast at 8am like any other morning. Drinking her orange juice, she remembered Mr. Ogg’s orange tie he wore during her recent job interview as his new secretary. ’Well, this is certainly a career with upward potential’, this thought crossed her mind with a little smile while putting on her hat, just before leaving the apartment. Today is the first day of her new job at Mr. Ogg’s office – a truly mobile office.
What Katherine didn’t realize is that she was about to become a part of history in the making, since her first day working with Mr. Ogg was, for many, the day when business aviation was born. It was 1929 and a plane called ’Smilin’ Thru’ was parked in front of its custom-built matching orange hangar, ready to take-off . This was her new office.
Katherine McBride was the world’s first ‘aerial secretary’. Her employer, Harry L. Ogg from Newton, Iowa, was the president of the Automatic Washer Company, later to become the Maytag Corporation. He was the owner of the first flying office, a Travel Air S6000B monoplane outfitted by the factory with a specially designed cabin and fitted with a number of office machines: an Ediphone for dictation, a typewriter, a folding desk and an intercom to speak with the pilot. The cabin was completed with carpeting, window curtains and a lavatory with hot and cold running water.
For more than two years Harry Ogg used this monoplane extensively to market and sell his automatic washing machines. Occasionally, he would remove the seats and office equipment, to carry up to four washing machines to demonstrate and pitch to townspeople wherever he landed. In two years he flew over 900 hours, visiting 43 of the 48 states to meet his customers and sell his products. An impressive amount of flying for a business jet owner even today.
Harry Ogg created the first office in the sky, which was pivotal in building his successful business. He probably concentrated on his washing machines sales and may not have fully appreciated that he was revolutionizing the business world and inadvertently launching business aviation as we know it today. Mr. Ogg may recognize the folding table, but would certainly be amazed at the private jet offices nowadays.
With personal devices, such as smartphones and laptops, almost any location can become an office. All that is needed is a passenger seat, a good connection and, perhaps, a coffee and your personal assistant, like Harry’s Miss McBride.
Productivity in your airborne office is unparalleled. Whether it’s a focused high altitude meeting, developing strategies or simply communicating, a 2018 National Business Aviation Association survey says that 66 percent of business travelers reported being more productive behind ‘a flying desk’ than at their regular ones.
Speaking about flying desks, large cabin business jets may have a conference table or even private office, equipped with a desk, comfortable seating for the Principal and their guests, perhaps with LiveTV™ streaming the latest business news.
From Ediphone to Any Phone
The centerpiece of an airborne office is communications – allowing passengers to remain connected, whether to their office, clients or family, but also to continue to stay updated on social media and texting.
The simplest and least expensive method uses a ground-based communication network to connect the aircraft to the people below. This solution is most prevalent in the United States, which has an extensive network of ground stations.
International travel requires a satellite communication system that utilizes an on-board SATCOM system to connect the aircraft to a satellite for two-way communication to the ground or to other aircraft. Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband system is ideal for calls, texts and email, and is especially popular for owners seeking global, L-band reliability for their aircraft. It does, however, have limited streaming capability
A more capable, but more expensive, SATCOM uses either the Ka or Ku frequency band to provide high speed data throughput for passenger voice, data and text services using the cabin Wi-Fi system. Sophisticated systems allow the passengers to use their personal devices to call directly without having to use a cabin handset.
Office in the Sky is Office Worldwide
Effective time management is crucial to be successful in business. A corporate aircraft allows you not only to travel very efficiently, but to work effectively during your journey. This can be a major asset to your business. Your flying office is immune to many bureaucratic regulations, including visa regimes or recent COVID-19 restrictions, and you can schedule an important meeting without even leaving your aircraft at any airport where you land.
Creativity is always a possibility
Katherine McBride and Harry L. Ogg went on many business – travels with their flying office trailblazing the business world of tomorrow. The true office in the sky today is more than the individual bits and pieces of office equipment and furniture, it is a comprehensive, well thought out design that creates a comfortable space to work, to communicate and to collaborate. Naturally, comfortable chairs and divans, as well as a capable galley also belong to the extended office concept.
Mr. Ogg’s creative thinking changed business flying forever. New creative ideas to further enhance the office in the sky are awaiting to be discussed and designed. The possibilities are within reach. Perhaps it’s time for a discussion – remember, the world of tomorrow always starts today.