FAA and TSA administrators, "SpaceShipOne" pilot featured at AOPA Expo 2004

October 15, 2004

FAA and TSA administrators, SpaceShipOne pilot featured at AOPA Expo 2004
Convention begins Thursday in Long Beach, California

AOPA Expo bound!
Win-A-Twin Sweepstakes Twin Comanche heading west

If you're out at the airport this weekend, keep your eyes open for the grand prize in AOPA's 2004 Win-A-Twin Sweepstakes. The completely refurbished, better-than-new 1965 Piper Twin Comanche will be flying west, on its way to taking center stage in the aircraft static display at AOPA Expo in Long Beach, California, next week.

AOPA Pilot magazine Editor-at-Large Tom Horne is planning a Saturday takeoff from Clermont County Airport (I69) in Batavia, Ohio. He had stopped there to have Select Aircraft Service repair an exhaust system crack. (See the October Project: Twin Comanche Status Report.)

"I'm planning the 'southern route' to Long Beach," said Horne. "You can easily do 600-nm legs in this aircraft, so my likely stops are Tulsa, Albuquerque, and Sedona, Arizona, depending upon weather, of course."

More than 70 examples of GA's broad range of aircraft, from two-seat trainers to light business jets, will be on display at Long Beach/Daugherty Field (LGB) as part of AOPA Expo 2004, October 21 through 23.

"AOPA Expo offers fascinating educational seminars, opportunities to hear directly from high-ranking government officials who affect aviation policy, and an exhibit hall full of the latest in avionics and aviation-related products," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "But let's face it, we're plane people, and it's the planes that are the real draw."

The static display area is at Airflite Aviation Services at LGB, just a short, free shuttle bus ride from the Long Beach Convention Center, where the exhibit hall and seminars will be.

In addition to the Win-A-Twin Sweepstakes Piper Twin Comanche with its stunning new paint scheme, a luxurious new interior, and a state-of-the-art avionics panel, the static display will include aircraft from a wide array of manufacturers: Adam, ATG, Aviat, Bombardier, Cessna, Cirrus, Diamond, EADS Socata, Epic, Extra, Lancair, Liberty, Maule, Mooney, Pilatus, New Piper, Raytheon (maker of Beechcraft aircraft), Stemme, Symphony, and Twin Commander.

Lancair will have on display aircraft aimed at the home-builder market, as will Glasair, Van's, and Velocity. And Robinson Helicopters will showcase two of its models. A complete list of all exhibitors at AOPA Expo 2004, including those with aircraft on display, is available online.

"General aviation manufacturing - especially the single-engine piston market - is one segment of the aviation industry that managed to hold its ground during the recent economic downturn and now stands poised to bounce back strong as the economy rebounds," said Boyer. "AOPA Expo 2004 is an excellent chance to see everything that this vibrant part of aviation has to offer."

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, TSA chief Rear Adm. David Stone, and SpaceShipOne pilot Mike Melvill will be the featured speakers at AOPA Expo 2004. General aviation's premiere convention and trade show kicks off this Thursday (October 21) at the Long Beach Convention Center.

More than 500 vendor exhibits will fill the convention hall, while some 70 aircraft, including the grand prize in AOPA's Win-A-Twin sweepstakes, will be on static display a short shuttle bus ride away at Long Beach/Daugherty Field.

Attendees will be able to take part in more than 75 hours of informative, fun, eye-opening seminars, along with free general sessions and entertaining social events. ( Custom-create your own schedule of AOPA Expo 2004 events and seminars!)

FAA administrator to address general aviation concerns Thursday morning

Preserving America's airports. Temporary flight restrictions. Maintaining high-quality, no-fee preflight briefings. These issues are of vital importance to general aviation pilots. They're also issues facing FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. On Thursday, Blakey will discuss many such issues as she speaks to AOPA members during the opening general session of AOPA Expo 2004.

Since moving into the administrator's office, Blakey has participated in AOPA Expo every year. This year Expo attendees will "meet" the administrator via a live, two-way video and audio feed. Blakey will address AOPA's members and answer their questions from FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"So often, it feels like the FAA's primary focus is on the 'big iron' - the airlines and the high-flying corporate jets," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "That's why our members look forward to hearing directly from the administrator each year at AOPA Expo. Her participation underscores the importance of general aviation in America."

Tough questions for TSA administrator

Friday morning's general session begins with Rear Adm. David M. Stone, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), speaking on "General Aviation Security: A View From the Top." This will be the first time that the head of the TSA has met face-to-face with AOPA members.

"Adm. Stone's appearance at AOPA Expo will give general aviation pilots a rare opportunity to hear directly from the man responsible for securing America's airports," said Boyer. "And every bit as important, it will give him a chance to hear directly from GA pilots."

Stone accepted Boyer's personal invitation to speak at AOPA Expo during a private meeting in August. He has been a vocal proponent of AOPA's Airport Watch and other security measures adopted voluntarily by general aviation. As acting administrator of the TSA, Stone oversaw the drafting and implementation of that agency's Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports, which draw heavily on recommendations made by a GA industry working group, including AOPA.

"As an association dedicated to protecting the interests of general aviation, AOPA is ready, willing, and able to challenge TSA when necessary," said Boyer. "But under Adm. Stone's leadership and that of his predecessor, Adm. James Loy, we've found an agency willing to listen to general aviation's concerns, even when we don't see eye-to-eye with them."

SpaceShipOne pilot to describe his voyages into space

Mike Melvill, who has twice piloted SpaceShipOne into space, will be the keynote speaker at the Expo opening luncheon. He'll narrate an exciting 17-minute video of his suborbital adventures and take questions about the flights.

Melvill, who has been an AOPA member for 35 years, is looking forward to giving something back to the association with this opportunity to talk pilot-to-pilot at AOPA Expo 2004. "AOPA has done so much for me and other pilots," he said. "They're the best. I don't know what we'd do without them."

With 21 years as a test pilot, Melvill has accumulated 7,000 flight hours in 123 fixed-wing and 11 rotary-wing aircraft. In addition to SpaceShipOne, Melvill piloted the first flights of more than half a dozen aircraft. He also was involved in the testing of the Beech Starship prototype aircraft and Fairchild's Next Generation Trainer (NGT) for the U.S. Air Force. Melvill is one of only three people, including Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, to fly Voyager, the aircraft that made the first and only nonstop, unrefueled flight around the world.

The Saturday morning general session will give AOPA members an opportunity to hear directly from the association's top leaders with a report from "Team AOPA."

October 15, 2004