AOPA Expo 2008: That's A Wrap

Reflections, accolades, and a fond farewell.

January 1, 2009

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When broadcasters end their newscasts or film directors finish a movie, they happily proclaim, “That’s a wrap.” It means that all the hard work is finished and they are pleased with the product. The phrase easily applies to AOPA Expo 2008 and the final Expo appearance of retiring AOPA President Phil Boyer.

Expo 2008 in sunny San Jose, California, welcomed more than 9,500 members to a show packed with exhibitors (more than 600), seminars (more than 60), and aircraft (more than 80), as well as parties, receptions, and a grand banquet. It was a good three-day event for everyone who attended, and a gratifying acknowledgement for a job well done for AOPA staff. For Boyer it was the final sprint at the end of his 18-year leadership of the association and he basked in the accolades and standing ovations he received as he handed over the left seat to new AOPA President Craig Fuller.

Oh, it was a grand night for retiring AOPA President Phil Boyer who graciously took the ribbing, jokes, praise, and tributes set to music in a grand-scale musical production by Incredible Productions. Songs highlighting Boyer’s 18-year term were set to the musicals “Grease,” “Mamma Mia!,” and “High School Musical.” Lyrics included lines such as “Persuade and rectify, fight for the little guy, always with passion, that’s Phil’s philosophy!”

The Friday Night Party is always a well-attended and exciting event and San Jose’s Tech Museum of Innovation was a perfect setting for an industry such as GA. The party took place on all three levels of the museum. As usual, Rod Machado packed the largest room in the convention center with his entertaining aviation humor.

A large focus of Expo 2008 was setting the stage for the future, the legacy of Phil Boyer, and the advent of President Craig Fuller’s tenure. This was Fuller’s first Expo and he took the time to spend much of it with members, listening to their concerns and promising a continuation of Boyer’s work. Boyer introduced the executive team, whom he has been grooming and preparing for his leavetaking for several years. Each executive vice president detailed the work in their departments
at the second general session on Friday morning. Seated are Andy Cebula, government affairs; Karen Gebhart, communications; Greg Sterling, non-dues revenue, and Bruce Landsberg, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Rounding out the executive team are Roger Myers, finance and administration and Harvey Cohen, The AOPA Foundation.

At AOPA President Craig Fuller’s first public appearance at the third and final general session, Boyer presented the incoming president with a flight bag full of symbols of the initiatives already in play for the organization. Fuller said his acceptance of the role of AOPA’s fourth president is “a blessing beyond anything I could have imagined.” EAA founder Paul Poberezny entertained at the opening luncheon telling tales of early days in general aviation (below left). Executive Vice President Andy Cebula described the association’s continuing battle against user fees. Logan Flood, who was badly burned in an aviation accident, and whose story was featured in AOPA Pilot and AOPA Online, was honored with his family at Expo.

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker | AOPA Senior Features Editor

AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.