August 6, 2009
By Mike Collins
Thousands of AOPA members visited the association’s Big Yellow Tent at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., last week during a show that drew 578,000 people—a 12-percent increase over 2008—and pleased attendees and exhibitors alike.
“We connected with literally thousands of our members over the course of the week,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “It was encouraging that attendance was strong and exhibitors reported good sales. People seemed ready to set aside concerns about the economy and just enjoy their time at Oshkosh.”
All week, the AOPA tent was abuzz with excitement as pilots signed up for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip for two to AOPA Aviation Summit, a ride in the Goodyear Blimp—or a flight in a P-51 Mustang, thanks to AOPA’s collaboration with The Horsemen, the world’s only P-51 demonstration team. Others came to see the AOPA Let’s Go Flying Sweepstakes Cirrus SR22; seek information about advocacy, medical certification, or safety; or to join or renew memberships. New AOPA memberships at the show were proportionally higher than at last year’s AirVenture.
“AirVenture 2009 was the best ever,” said EAA President Tom Poberezny. “It’s difficult to imagine a week that matched the highlights, enthusiasm, and passion for aviation that we saw this year at Oshkosh.” More than 10,000 airplanes flew into Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and other nearby airports, he said, and 2,652 showplanes registered—the highest total since 2005.
During AirVenture, AOPA signed a memorandum of understanding with EAA in which the organizations pledge to support each other’s efforts to promote, protect, and expand the general aviation community. Two days later, Fuller stood with Poberezny and voiced AOPA’s support for EAA’s International Learn to Fly Day, an annual event set to begin May 15, 2010. As president of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations, Fuller represents the interests of general aviation in 68 countries around the world.
AOPA also signed a collaborative agreement with Women in Aviation International during AirVenture that is intended to strengthen GA and increase the number of women in the aviation industry.
“Ensuring a strong general aviation industry is key to drawing women in, whether as pilots or mechanics or in some other aspect of the industry,” said Dr. Peggy Chabrian, president of WAI, adding that her organization looks forward to working with AOPA on its GA Serves America campaign.
“Spending time at Oshkosh cannot help but rejuvenate anyone who flies,” Fuller said. “I left Oshkosh very grateful for all that EAA does to bring the aviation experience to thousands of people.”
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
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