As a freelance copywriter, there are few things as affirming as glowing unsolicited testimonials from high credibility commentators. Google Reviews are good, LinkedIn recommendations are great, handwritten letters are amazing. Then, occasionally, something arrives out of the blue that rewards all the hours, weeks and years of study, research, writing and rewriting that go into our craft – in a way that no amount of money can match. I'm loathe to blow my own trumpet; I'd much rather let testimonials and my writing speak for itself (or for your organisation). But today, well, no...
You can imagine my delight when I saw the review that headlines this article. It appeared recently on Geckota Ltd's WatchGecko website for which I regularly research and write articles on watches and the watch industry.
Several things stand out about this comment and the testimonial that it contains. Firstly, it was completely unsolicited. That's a great start.
Secondly, it was from a highly credible source, in this case an Airbus A380 pilot with no less than 12,500 total flying hours. Anyone familiar with pop-psych writer Malcolm Gladwell will be aware of the 10,000-hour rule (actually developed by psychologist K. Anders Ericsson), that has become closely associated with him since he wrote about it in Outliers. Since then, the original researchers disputed Gladwell's usage, and a 2014 Princeton University study by Macnamara, Hambrick and Oswald indicated that other factors are also as (or more) important than just deliberate-practice.
Nevertheless, 12,500 hours (equivalent to 657 return trips between London Heathrow and Vancouver), is lots of flying. The author of the comment clearly knows his stuff, which makes his comment particularly good for Geckota Ltd and myself. The writer could have been a Boeing 737, Beechcraft King Air or Bell 206 pilot and the numbers would still be valid. But an A380 pilot...that's pure gold.
I've lost count of how many hours I've invested in my copywriting career. By a very conservative estimate (35 hours a week, 47 weeks per year and 12 years), I make that an absolute minimum of 1657 hours. In practice, I reckon you could double that – and then there are the years of in-house and agency copywriting, technical writing and PR writing I'd done before I took the plunge and hung out my own slate as a freelance copywriter.
This comment resonated with me because I've had a bit to do with the Airbus A380 in my time. Working as a technical author in my pre-freelancing days, I contributed to the A380 Tooling & Equipment Manual (TEM). I even have a couple of the special keyrings and presentation packs that Airbus made with swarf from the first UK metal cuttings of the first A380's wings.
I'm not surprised that I've found myself drawn towards aircraft and aviation copywriting, whether for pilots' watches (Geckota), aerospace consultancy (Hawksland Consultants) or technical publications for the aerospace and defence industries (Rheinmetall UK). Given that my parents met at what was then called Bristol Airplane Company (BAC) in Bristol (now BAESYSTEMS and Airbus), where my father worked on the Bristol/Ferrranti Bloodhound anti-aircraft missile, it feels as if a wheel has turned full circle...
The next important thing about Luca's review at www.watchgecko.com is that he is clearly interested in watches, and pilots' watches in particular. Modern airline flight deck crew are required to wear functioning timepieces. But pilot wristwatches are no longer a key part of flying operations as they were in the days of the original 1930s Hanhart pilot chronographs, or the original 1952 Breitling Navitimer... you'll need to read the article to learn more...
However, many pilots (as well as even more non-pilots) still wear pilot watches and chronograph watches. This is regardless of them being anachronisms in our digital age of multiple cockpit chronographs linked with the airliner's systems.
The fact is that pilot watches appeal to everyone from planespotters at Gloucestershire's Staverton airport, to A380 jockeys like our comment writer. Whether its a classic Breguet XX, Geckota's fliegeruhren-inspired K1, IWC Big Pilot's Watch or Seiko's much-loved SNA411P1 Flightmaster chronograph, such timepieces exude professionalism, technological mastery and the wearer's identification with the world of flight and flying. They're also rather cool...
It's always been that way, since the first first Cartier Santos was crafted in 1904, or the original Longines Lindbergh hour-angle watch was launched in the 1920s. To be honest, pilot watches (like dive watched) are so practical and engaging that they're irresistible to anyone even remotely associated with aircraft, airports and flight. You only need to visit the Baselworld watch fair, held in March each year, to appreciate their enduring appeal
So there you have it, a site visitor takes the time out of a busy professional pilot's schedule to write succinct, but incredibly complimentary, praise for a copywriter. The result is that a chain of connections and nostalgic memories were set off.
It also gives me the opportunity to remind you that aerospace and watch industry copywriting are two of my specialities, that I've served my time and built up a wealth of skills and experience, and that what I write is a match for the most rigorous professional scrutiny. I can help you and your business; we just need to get in touch.
If you don't have the time, specialist skills or inclination to write your own watch industry website, aircraft leasing brochure, airline case study or horological PR copy, I can help. Writing may not be your thing (it isn't everyone's), but, as you can see, it is mine...
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