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World's largest pilot organization to hold its biggest-ever convention and exhibition in Palm Springs October 24-26World's largest pilot organization to hold its biggest-ever convention and exhibition in Palm Springs October 24-26

<BR><SPAN class=twodeck>Kick-off October 23, 2 p.m. with 'AOPA Parade of Planes' through streets of Palm Springs</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=twodeck>Kick-off October 23, 2 p.m. with 'AOPA Parade of Planes' through streets of Palm Springs</SPAN>

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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.

More than 10,000 pilots, their friends, and family members are expected at the Palm Springs (California) Convention Center October 24-26 as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) hosts AOPA Expo 2002, expected to be its largest annual convention and exhibition ever.

And to kick off the event, some 80 aircraft will take to the streets of Palm Springs at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, October 23, for the "AOPA Parade of Planes." Lead by the AOPA Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes Aircraft (a beautifully restored 1940 Waco UPF-7 biplane), general aviation aircraft ranging from two-seat sport aircraft to business jets will taxi under their own power from Palm Springs International Airport along Alejo Road to the convention center. The aircraft will remain on display outside the convention center.

"AOPA Expo symbolizes the vital role general aviation plays in the life of the nation," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The airlines serve only three percent of the airports. General aviation links the rest of the nation, providing business and personal transportation, generating more than $102 billion in economic activity and supporting 1.3 million jobs."

While AOPA Expo is an event primarily for pilots, it is also an opportunity for the general public to learn more about what is far and away the largest portion of the nation's aviation industry. General aviation is, quite simply, everything that's not scheduled passenger airline service or military.

The majority of GA pilots use their aircraft much like the family car: to get from one business appointment to another, or to go away for a weekend or for a vacation. But GA is everything from a pilot in a two-seat propeller-driven aircraft out on a Saturday afternoon for the sheer joy of it, to the traffic reporter's "eye in the sky," to a multi-million dollar corporate jet, to an overnight package delivery giant like Federal Express.

(For more information on general aviation, visit www.GAservingAmerica.org.)

FAA administrator, GA since 9/11 highlight issue sessions

AOPA Expo officially opens at 9 a.m. Thursday, October 24, with the first general session. Marion Blakey, the new head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), will address the AOPA membership on issues of concern to pilots.

Friday morning's general session will include a presentation titled "GA Report—409 Days After 9/11," in which a panel of senior aviation industry leaders will look at where general aviation is now after the attacks, and what the future may hold. The "Team AOPA" report to members will highlight the Saturday morning session.

Safety and education

GA pilots are always seeking information to improve their skills. AOPA Expo will offer some 80 educational seminars, fully half of which are safety related. Seminars include several sessions of a perennial favorite, the Pinch Hitter® Ground School, which is geared toward frequent GA passengers. It helps increase the enjoyment and safety of GA flying by teaching the basics of flight, including the principles of landing an aircraft if the pilot becomes incapacitated.

Between seminars, attendees can wander the expanded exhibit hall and static display areas, taking in the latest and greatest general aviation has to offer. With more than 500 exhibits, pilots can try out headsets and GPS units and just about anything else they might take aloft. Outside in the static display area, all of the major aircraft manufacturers, including Adam, Aviat, Beechcraft, Cessna, Cirrus, Eclipse, Lancair, Piper, and Socata, will be exhibiting their latest models.

Honors for California pilot, national political leaders

At the AOPA Expo banquet Saturday evening, October 26, the pilots association will present its highest honor for local action to Santa Barbara, California, resident Gordon Feingold. The AOPA Sharples Award recognizes Feingold for his efforts as an Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteer at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, where he successfully rallied local pilots to demonstrate the value of the airport to the community and the media and won the first major GA improvements to the field in 30 years.

Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Representative William Lipinski (D-Ill.) will receive the association's Hartranft Award for their efforts to ensure that an agreement saving Chicago's historic Merrill C. Meigs Field will be honored.

Wrapping up AOPA Expo 2002 Saturday evening will be a performance by piano-playing political satirist Mark Russell, perhaps best known for his appearances on PBS.

AOPA Expo 2002 is open to the public. Daily access to the exhibit hall and aircraft display is $30. For more information, visit the Web site or call 888/GO2-EXPO.

The 385,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, headquartered near Washington, D.C., is the world's largest civil aviation organization. More than two thirds of the nation's pilots are AOPA members, as are some 48,000 California pilots.

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