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AOPA Expo 2002 taxis into Palm Springs Oct. 24-26AOPA Expo 2002 taxis into Palm Springs Oct. 24-26

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The Parade of Planes through the streets of Palm Springs kicked off AOPA Expo 1998.
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Visitors to AOPA Expo 1998 stroll through the outdoor static display area.
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GA aircraft on display during AOPA's last visit to Palm Springs in 1998.

AOPA Expo 2002 will literally taxi into Palm Springs, California, with its popular Parade of Planes. The nose-to-tail procession on October 23 will kick off AOPA's annual convention and trade show October 24-26. Some 80 aircraft are expected to taxi through the streets from Palm Springs International Airport to the convention center, where they'll be put on static display just outside the exhibition hall for visitors to admire at their leisure.

"2002 has been a year of continued attacks on general aviation, based on hysteria and misconceptions," AOPA President Phil Boyer said. "The Parade of Planes is a chance for GA to literally strut its stuff down Main Street, USA. And AOPA Expo 2002 is really a celebration of GA's ability to weather the ongoing storm."

Expo 2002 itself gets under way on October 24 with the first of three daily general sessions. Past sessions have included a speech by the FAA administrator and panel discussions of preserving airports and protecting general aviation.

Once each day's general session is concluded, visitors will have their pick of more than six dozen aviation seminars. A third of the sessions are new since the last time AOPA Expo was held on the West Coast. Fully one half are aviation safety related. Other seminars deal with renting or buying, modifying, or upgrading aircraft; and medical issues such as Lasik eye surgery, cardiac certification, and flying with diabetes.

The AOPA Air Safety Foundation will again host informative safety seminars, including several sessions of the perennial favorite, Pinch Hitter® Ground School. The program is geared toward frequent general aviation passengers, often spouses. It teaches the basics of flying, including the principles of how to land an aircraft if the pilot becomes incapacitated and to increase the understanding and enjoyment of GA flying.

Between seminars, visitors can wander the expanded exhibit hall and static display areas, taking in the latest and greatest, neatest and niftiest general aviation has to offer. More than 500 exhibitors are expected to show off their wares. It's a chance for pilots to try out headsets and GPS units and just about anything else they might take aloft. In addition, all of the major aircraft manufacturers, including Adam, Aviat, Beechcraft, Cessna, Cirrus, Eclipse, Lancair, Piper, and Socata, will be exhibiting their latest models.

By visiting the AOPA Expo 2002 Web site, visitors can easily register and organize their time in advance. Simply click "Register for Expo" on the left side of the page. After registering, select "Expo Schedule," check the items of interest, then click "Print Selected Items" at the bottom of the page to get a customized schedule of events.

One of the highlights of this year's Expo will be the announcement of the winning bidder for the one-of-a-kind ASF Socata Trinidad GT, the "Spirit of Liberty." Outside, the aircraft sports a unique paint scheme depicting the U.S. and French flags. Inside, it boasts some of the most sophisticated avionics available for GA. Socata, Inc., donated the aircraft for ASF's Online Silent Auction, with all proceeds above a reserve price benefiting the foundation's ongoing mission to improve aviation safety. Bids may be submitted through August 31, 2002.

During Expo 2002, AOPA will recognize political, grass-roots, and media efforts on behalf of general aviation with several awards presentations. The Hartranft Award honors a political leader who made the previous year's greatest contribution to advancing GA; the Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award recognizes a private citizen for the previous year's greatest commitment to GA; and the Max Karant Journalism awards honor non-trade journalists for fair, accurate, and insightful reporting on GA.

Expo 2002 will conclude with a gala banquet on Saturday night, October 26. Political satirist Mark Russell, perhaps best known for his appearances on PBS, will entertain banquet guests with his special brand of humor, mixing music and satire.

In addition, Palm Springs offers a variety of other things to do, from golf and tennis to tours of spectacular desert scenery, to one of the neatest air museums around, complete with World War II aircraft in flying condition.

Up-to-date information about AOPA Expo 2002 in Palm Springs, California, October 24-26 can be found on the Web, and current information about AOPA Air Safety Foundation efforts, including Expo seminars (as the convention approaches), can be found online.

With more than 380,000 members, AOPA is the largest civil aviation organization in the world, protecting the interests of general aviation owners and pilots. Some two thirds of all U.S. pilots are members.

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