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World's largest pilot organization returns to its Philadelphia roots for annual convention and expo October 30-November 1World's largest pilot organization returns to its Philadelphia roots for annual convention and expo October 30-November 1

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AOPA President Phil Boyer with FAA
Administrator Marion Blakey at AOPA Expo 2002
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Expo visitors will have hundreds
of exhibits to choose from.
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Sixty aircraft on static display at AOPA Expo 2002

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, founded in 1939 at Wings Field in Philadelphia, returns to its birthplace city Oct. 30-Nov. 1 for AOPA Expo 2003. This year's Expo sweeps into the city with 500 exhibitors slated in the Pennsylvania Convention Center and 60 aircraft displayed at Philadelphia International Airport. More than 10,000 general aviation pilots and family members are expected to attend and celebrate AOPA's birthplace and the Centennial of Flight.

"We are here to embrace the 20/20 foresight of five Philadelphia businessmen who early on recognized the importance of general aviation in American commerce," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Today more than 400,000 members of AOPA reap the rewards of their efforts from 64 years ago."

AOPA's 64-year history begins in Philadelphia

The exhibition's theme "Celebrating the Past, Ensuring Your Future," concurrently reinforces the Centennial of Flight, which follows Expo by about six weeks, and remembers AOPA's heritage. Philadelphia's Alfred L. Wolf, John Story Smith, Philip T. Sharples, Laurence P. Sharples, and C. Townsend Ludington formed AOPA at Wings Field in 1939. Headquarters subsequently moved to Chicago, then Washington, and is currently in Frederick, Maryland, but the AOPA board convenes at Wings Field every spring for its annual trustees meeting.

AOPA Expo is a chance for aviation enthusiasts to learn more about general aviation

Thousands of pilots, guests, and others are expected for Expo 2003. It's a one-stop opportunity to check out new airplanes and new equipment, learn the latest safety procedures, and simply enjoy the company of other pilots. But Expo is not just for pilots. The 2003 convention is an ideal opportunity for anyone to get up close and personal with the largest segment of the aviation industry in America.

Practically every U.S. airport can welcome all types of general aviation commerce: personal transportation, flight training, business aircraft, charter flights, aerial application, air ambulance, and more. By comparison, only three percent of all airports are served by airlines. General aviation, represented by all flying except scheduled airlines and the military, can be linked to 1.3 million jobs and more than $100 billion in economic activity. (For more information visit

Expo offers wide spectrum of aviation events

AOPA Expo 2003 officially starts Thursday morning with a free general session to "Meet the Administrator," the Federal Aviation Administration's Marion Blakey. This will be her second consecutive appearance at an opening session. She will update pilots on general aviation initiatives, and she will welcome questions from the audience.

The opening luncheon on Thursday will feature a special presentation on the Wright brothers by Darrell Collins. He is a National Park Service historian at Kill Devil Hills, N.C., with interesting insights to that fateful December day a century ago when flights of fancy became flights of reality. Journalists from the print and broadcast media will be honored during the luncheon for their fair, accurate, and insightful reporting on general aviation. Tickets are required to attend the luncheon.

To kick off the second day, AOPA President Phil Boyer hosts Friday morning's free general session. He'll be joined by representatives from 10 of the top avionics manufacturers to discuss the rapid advance in general aviation technology. And Saturday morning's free session will feature Boyer and senior AOPA staff members—Team AOPA—updating members on AOPA's efforts on behalf of GA and taking their questions.

AOPA Expo 2003 is open to the public. Each day, Expo visitors can wander through the exhibition hall or the static aircraft display or attend one of more than 80 seminars. Daily admission to the exhibition hall and static display costs $30, while admission that includes the seminars is $45.

The seminars are conveniently grouped by topic, including general interest, proficient pilot, all pilots, medical issues, safety seminars, and owner seminars. More than half of the seminars have never been offered during an East Coast Expo. Nineteen seminars are brand new.

The exhibit hall and product demonstrations open at 10 a.m. each day, closing at 6 p.m. the first two days and at 4 p.m. on the last day. Everything from aviation art to propellers to weather displays will be shown in the convention hall. Serious shoppers will enjoy an opportunity to "try before they buy" with selected product demonstrations.

More than 60 general aviation aircraft will be on display just a short shuttle-bus ride away at Philadelphia International Airport, on the ramp of Atlantic, the general aviation fixed-base operator (FBO) there. The static aircraft display also opens at 10 a.m. each day, closing at 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Aircraft on display range from sporty two-seaters to corporate aircraft to a business jet, many of which attendees can sit in, peer in, and touch for themselves.

Evening social activities, which require tickets, will include a socializing reception on Thursday, a Halloween party and dance on Friday, and the closing banquet with a stage show on Saturday.

Complete and up-to-date information about AOPA Expo 2003 is available on the Web or call 1-888-GO2EXPO. Additional information about AOPA may be seen at

With over 400,000 members, AOPA is the world's largest civil aviation organization. It is dedicated to defending the interests of general aviation and educating the public at large about the benefits GA offers. Some two thirds of all U.S. pilots are members of AOPA.


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