AOPA Expo 2005

Flying Fun in the Florida Sun

August 1, 2005

Throw a beach towel and some sunscreen into the flight bag

Whether you are new to flying or have been a general aviation pilot for years, you won't want to miss the 2005 edition of AOPA Expo, held at the convention center in Tampa, from November 3 through 5. The event will feature dozens of seminars, scores of airplanes on display, and hundreds of aviation exhibitors, not to mention an inviting Florida resort town filled with thousands of enthusiastic fellow aviators.

Did you ever want to ask AOPA President Phil Boyer a question in person? You'll get your chance at AOPA Expo 2005 at the free general sessions, where Phil and other experts will be on hand to answer your inquiries about what is happening in GA and how your association is representing you and helping to shape the future of general aviation.

Ever wonder what it's like to sit in the left seat of one of the new generation of single-engine airplanes from Cirrus, Diamond, and Lancair? Don't miss this opportunity, because they will all be at the aircraft display at Expo 2005, as will the traditional favorites from Beechcraft, Cessna, Mooney, The New Piper, and others.

Want to find out about the latest avionics and what this "glass cockpit" stuff is all about? The major avionics companies will be there with their products, and AOPA and industry experts will provide insightful seminars on glass cockpits, GPS, WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System), TAA (technically advanced aircraft), and any other avionics-related acronym and abbreviation you might need to know about.

With the theme of "Expo Is a Pilot's Oasis," it is no coincidence that a sunny Florida resort town was chosen for this year's AOPA extravaganza. With all that Tampa has to offer — and the beaches of Clearwater Beach and St. Petersburg in close proximity, and Disney World in nearby Orlando — you may want to bring the family or a friend and stay a few extra days.

Give me details

Tampa International and Vandenberg are the host airports for those arriving by GA aircraft. Free AOPA shuttles to the Tampa Convention Center will be available from these airports (as well as Peter O. Knight Airport, which will have very limited transient parking available, however). Note that shuttle service will be available only from the GA side of Tampa International.

Once in Tampa, no trip to AOPA Expo would be complete without a visit to the exhibit hall at the convention center, where more than 500 booths will feature the latest in general aviation products and services. An Internet café, sponsored by DTC DUAT, also will be available in the exhibit hall, where attendees can check e-mails and get weather information. The exhibit hall will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

This year's display at nearby Peter O. Knight Airport will showcase more than 70 different aircraft, including the 2005 AOPA Commander Countdown Sweepstakes airplane, a completely refurbished Rockwell Commander 112A. New features at the aircraft display include interactive product demonstrations, prize drawings, and for those contemplating an aircraft purchase, the opportunity to reserve a demo flight with numerous different airplane manufacturers. The aircraft display will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Free shuttle transportation will be provided by Cessna Aircraft.

Among the many reasons members attend AOPA Expo year after year are the educational opportunities to become a better pilot. This year's event has more than 75 hours of practical, targeted seminars designed for the GA pilot. New this year is a special Technology Track with seminars that include "Flying Glass Cockpits in General Aviation"; "VFR Navigation and GPS: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly"; "WAAS: What Does it Mean for IFR?"; and "GPS Approaches, Navigation Databases, and Charts."

Well known to thousands of pilots through their training materials and courses, John and Martha King have also been on the leading edge of improving the risk-management practices of general aviation pilots and will be at Expo this year to present their seminar "The Kings on Risk Management."

The sessions on Friday morning kick off with aviation educator and humorist Rod Machado and his session on "Rod Machado's Aviation Humor." Machado has been entertaining pilots for years through his monthly columns in AOPA Pilot and AOPA Flight Training magazines and his aviation seminars that explore the lighter side of aviation.

The AOPA Air Safety Foundation will look at some of the practical inflight situations all pilots have faced or will encounter. On Friday, ASF's topic will be "Weather Wise: Practical Tips and Tactical Tricks." "Weather Wise" is ASF's first seminar devoted specifically to practical weather techniques for the GA pilot. Specifics include identifying potentially erroneous forecasts before you leave the ground — including three easy validity checks; how to find smooth air for your passengers; and a final topic familiar to any pilot who has talked to flight service: how to interpret the "VFR not recommended" warning. Additional weather topics include information on killer clouds, free graphical weather data-link services, tips on Florida flying weather, and flying in the soup without going nuts.

Other ASF subjects this year include "Single-Pilot IFR," and how to make it safer, and "The Last Five Miles: Are You Ready?" going from cruise to touchdown — potentially the most demanding part of any flight whether VFR or IFR. Practical tips include the best techniques for finding opposing traffic close to your destination; the top five mistakes pilots make on the radio; and the three best reasons to begin your descent early — and the one time it could be a big mistake.

Other favorites brought back by popular demand include "Night Flying: Operational Hazards" and "Getting Started With Aircraft Ownership." Additional topics include security, insurance, proficiency, medical issues, maintenance, traveling by GA aircraft, the FSS of the future, preserving flying skills as we age, and keeping flying fun.

A couple more teasers

AOPA's creative Expo 2005 staff is busy organizing numerous social events, including a welcome reception where you can meet new pilots and renew old friendships, an opening luncheon with special entertainment and awards to radio, TV, and print journalists for excellence in GA reporting, and a "Friday Night Pirate's Party."

Wrapping it all up is the perennial favorite "Grande Finale Banquet" on Saturday night, featuring dinner, live entertainment, video highlights of the convention, and awards to two individuals — one from government and the other from the GA community — who during the past year have demonstrated distinctive efforts to preserve and defend general aviation.

Complete details about AOPA Expo 2005, along with special fly-in procedures, can be found on AOPA Online ( coming in September.

E-mail the author at [email protected].

AOPA Expo 2005 Schedule of Events

Schedule subject to change.

See the final schedule on our Web site ( after October 1, or in the October issue of AOPA Pilot magazine.

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