August 22, 2003
As aviation prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of powered flight later this year, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is returning to the site of its own beginning, Philadelphia, for AOPA Expo 2003, October 30-November 1, 2003.
"In 1776, our nation's founding fathers met in Philadelphia to begin a grand experiment," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "One hundred sixty-three years later, in 1939, AOPA's founding fathers gathered at Philadelphia's Wings Field to begin another experiment. In 2003, both experiments are still going strong."
AOPA Expo 2003, in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, is the nation's premier general aviation convention and trade show dedicated specifically to GA pilots and aircraft owners. It is the one event that answers pilots' crucial need for new information and the latest technology with an expansive exhibit hall, product demonstrations, top-level briefings, and cutting-edge seminars.
It begins on Thursday, October 30, with an opportunity for AOPA members to hear from and ask questions of FAA Administrator Marion Blakey about the future of general aviation in America.
The general session on Friday will be a look at the changing landscape of the GA aircraft panel and new avionics technology. And on Saturday, members will hear from Phil Boyer and key AOPA staff on the important issues challenging pilots and what new is in store for AOPA members during "Meet Team AOPA."
After looking ahead during Thursday's general session, members will be guided back to the dawn of the Air Age during the Opening Luncheon. Darrell Collins, historian for the National Park Service and considered one of the finest tellers of the Wright brothers' story, will walk through that fateful day at Kill Devil Hills as no one else can. AOPA will also present the Max Karant Awards during the luncheon to the year's top print, radio, and television journalists for honest, fair, and insightful coverage of general aviation.
Once each day's general sessions concludes, Expo visitors can head to the exhibition hall to peruse more than 500 vendor displays, attend any of the more than 80 seminars, or catch the free shuttle bus over to Philadelphia International Airport and the static display area.
The exhibition hall has something for just about every aviation enthusiast, from souvenirs and jewelry, to the latest must-have gadgets, and just about every kind of avionics equipment available. Visitors can try on headsets or play with the latest "magic boxes" for their panels.
Expo-goers will have more than 80 opportunities to attend seminars on 69 different topics ranging from "Aerial Photography" to "Winter's Worst," and just about everything in between. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation will offer a full slate of programs, including an all-new program on one of the leading problems for GA, low-level maneuvering flight, titled "Watch This." The classic Pinch-Hitter® program will also be offered each day for non-flying companions.
While visitors may choose from any of the seminar offerings, they are conveniently grouped into six tracks. Aircraft owners or pilots interested in owning, for instance, could follow the "Owner Track" to learn how to protect their investment in avionics or about the importance of a prepurchase inspection. The other tracks are Proficient Pilot, Safety, Medical Issues, All Pilot, and Aviation General Interest.
Just a short shuttle bus ride away at the static display area, aircraft manufacturers will have their latest offerings lined up. American Champion, Aviat, Cessna, Diamond, Lancair, Luscombe, OMF, Pilatus, Piper, Tiger, Twin Commander, Velocity, and Vulcanair will all be there.
With Halloween falling right in the middle of AOPA Expo 2003, how could AOPA's Friday Night event be anything but a Halloween Party? Guests are encouraged to come in costume, and be prepared for ghosts and goblins, and lots of fun and food.
Saturday night, the Grand Finale Banquet will feature an original production developed especially for AOPA by Incredible Productions. Famous for their witty topical musical productions, the troupe will take a look at the humorous side of GA and AOPA. Two coveted awards will be handed out that night as well. AOPA will present the J.B. Hartranft and Laurence P. Sharples Awards to the government official and the individual who did the most during 2002 to advance the cause of general aviation.
In addition, AOPA has arranged for an alternative adventure for guests of AOPA members—an all-day tour of nearby Pennsylvania Dutch country on Saturday. Space on the tour is limited and must be reserved by calling Uniquely Philadelphia directly at 800/433-9450. Cost of the tour is $59 per person.
Anyone planning to attend AOPA Expo 2003 is encouraged to visit the Expo Web site to register and, more importantly, make hotel reservations as soon as possible.
"Last year, nearly 12,000 people came to Expo," explained Ann Kilian, AOPA's director of conventions and meetings. "With that kind of attendance, rooms will go fast."
After registering, visitors can select "Design My Own Expo Schedule," check the items of interest, then click "Print Selected Items" at the bottom of the page to get a customized schedule of events.
With more than 400,000 members, AOPA is the world's largest civil aviation organization. It is dedicated to protecting the interests of all general aviation pilots. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation is the nation's only private, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to providing continuing pilot education and safety programs for general aviation.
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