Something for everyone:

Celebrating general aviation in Florida

January 1, 2010

There’s an expression in the surfing culture that says, “You should have been here yesterday”—implying that you missed a great day at the beach. That expression could have applied to AOPA Aviation Summit, except that through technology and the efforts of many, highlights of Summit are available online. AOPA President Craig Fuller recently announced that twice the number of people who actually attended Summit in Tampa viewed AOPA Live by late November—the compilation of video interviews, special events, and announcements that took place on Center Stage (a TV studio in the exhibit hall), the ballrooms, and Peter O. Knight Airport. Some 8,000 people attended the convention, and more than 16,000 have tuned into AOPA Live—it’s a hit.

The online coverage lets anyone who visits www.aopa.org have a virtual Summit experience. The goal of the coverage is to take Summit beyond the Tampa city limits—Fuller likened the experience to a political town hall meeting, in that what happens in a small town extends far beyond because of media coverage from TV and newspapers. AOPA Live accomplishes just that.

Haven’t tuned in yet? You are missing Fuller’s interviews with all the aviation alphabet leaders; insight into spyplane flying with former Lockheed SR-71 pilot Brian Shul; seeing Jessica Cox, the pilot born without arms, demonstrate how she fastens the four-point seatbelt in her Ercoupe; and a wedding at the airport. A wedding? Yes, 80-year-old sweethearts Glenn Plymate and Irene Boham got married at Peter O. Knight Airport in front of a Lockheed Electra that was used in the filming of the movie Amelia (the pair met because of their mutual fascination with the Amelia Earhart story).

Summit offered something for everyone—and AOPA Live preserves it for everyone to see.

At the airport

The largest number of aircraft ever assembled for an AOPA convention gathered at Peter O. Knight Airport for Airportfest. This family friendly event featured all manner of flying craft, from hot air balloons to remote-controlled model aircraft (flown in a hangar), and airplanes from the historic Electra to exciting offerings from Diamond, Cirrus, Piper, Cessna, and others. Music played, a caravan of antique cars motored by, and transportation from the convention center was available on a spacious yacht.

AOPA’s array of company aircraft was also a highlight at Airportfest. Alongside the 2009 Let’s Go Flying Sweepstakes SR22 was AOPA’s Cessna Caravan—plus a Remos GX light sport aircraft standing in for the AOPA 2010 Fun to Fly Sweepstakes prize, displayed in the convention hall. The 2010 sweepstakes aircraft was announced at the show’s opening on Thursday, November 5. The aircraft will be given away at AOPA Summit in Long Beach, California, this year—the sweepstakes now runs through September 30, 2010. (The winner of the 2009 Let’s Go Flying Sweepstakes Cirrus SR22 will be selected in January and the airplane awarded shortly thereafter.)

Different feeling

AOPA Live at Center Stage lent a different feeling to the convention—Summit was more energized, more patriotic, and more exciting. This feeling came from several innovations, including the largest gathering of state and national government officials at an AOPA event. Pilot and AOPA member West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III was one of the dignitaries at Summit and he lent his voice and passion to the first-ever GA Serves America Rally ( see “Pilots: Joe Manchin,”). Waving American flags, members rallied to the cause of supporting GA, with NATA’s Jim Coyne leading the cry. AOPA has adopted its own song, Wide Open Skies, written exclusively for AOPA by pilot and AOPA member songwriter Addison Steele, and the nostalgic song was accompanied by inspiring video.

In addition to grand receptions and dinners, Summit hosted new features such as a sold-out luncheon that highlighted GA at the movies. The author of the book on which the film Amelia was based, filmmakers of A Pilot’s Story, and some of the pilots who “played” Amelia Earhart and flew an Electra in the movie all were on stage with Fuller. The Friday night party was followed by a rocking concert by recording artist and pilot John Oates, with country artist (and pilot) Blaine Larsen. On Saturday night AOPA celebrated its seventieth anniversary with music from seven decades featured in different rooms—the 1960s room was the most popular.

So, although “You should have been there,” you can check out what you missed on AOPA Live on aopa.org. —And make your plans for AOPA Aviation Summit 2010 in Long Beach. See you there!

E-mail the author at julie.walker@aopa.org.


Lights, camera, Remos!

AOPA’s 2010 Fun to Fly Sweepstakes debuts

By Jill. W. Tallman

With trumpet fanfare and applause the 2010 Fun to Fly Sweepstakes Remos made a spectacular debut at AOPA Summit in Tampa, Florida. And it had all the excitement of a red carpet premier. The 2009 Remos, AOPA’s first-ever light sport aircraft sweepstakes entry, was hidden behind a curtain on the exhibit floor. After the curtain dropped, AOPA President Craig Fuller told the assembled crowd, “We believe this type of aircraft will make flying more affordable for those who want to get into aviation.”

A flurry of behind-the-scenes last-minute activity led up to the unveiling. Craig Barnett, founder of Scheme Designers Inc., and his crew worked until the wee hours of the morning before Summit kickoff to apply the decals, stripes, and detailing. The Fun To Fly logo incorporated into the blue and green color scheme results in a fun, eye-catching look.

Right now, your Fun to Fly Remos GX’s N number is 131GX, but that will change. When registration is complete, N131GX will become N210FN—for 2010 Fun to Fly. New decals matching the paint scheme will be applied.

With makeup in place, the star of the show awaited her carriage at Peter O. Knight Airport to take her to the show. A flatbed truck did the honors, and Remos employees folded the airplane’s wings—a process that takes about 20 minutes—and put together a brace to hold the fuselage securely in place. From there, the Remos rolled off the truck onto the exhibit hall loading dock, was positioned into place, and the wings unfolded.

See the unveiling on AOPA Live. Details on how to win the Fun to Fly Sweepstakes can be found on AOPA Online.

E-mail the author at jill.tallman@aopa.org.