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Curtain goes up tomorrow on AOPA Expo 2003Curtain goes up tomorrow on AOPA Expo 2003

In the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia, more than 500 exhibitors are making final adjustments to their displays. A short distance away at Philadelphia International Airport, more than 60 aircraft on static display are in position, awaiting your arrival.

Rain showers moved through the area today, but the skies are clearing, and the forecast through the weekend calls for mostly clear skies and above-average temperatures.

Expo runs from Thursday through Saturday. More than 10,000 general aviation pilots and family members are expected to attend and celebrate AOPA's birthplace and the Centennial of Flight. Expo's theme, "Celebrating the Past, Ensuring Your Future," both reinforces the Centennial, which follows Expo by about six weeks, and recalls AOPA's heritage.

AOPA Expo 2003 kicks off Thursday morning with a free general session, "Meet the Administrator." In her second consecutive appearance at an opening session, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey will update pilots on general aviation initiatives and take questions from the audience. Thursday's opening luncheon will feature a special presentation on the Wright brothers by Darrell Collins, the National Park Service historian at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. He will offer interesting insights to that fateful December day a century ago when flights of fancy became flights of reality.

Registration is available on site for members who decide at the last minute to attend. Tickets are required for Thursday's opening luncheon and welcome reception, Friday evening's Halloween party, and Saturday's closing banquet. AOPA Expo's extensive programs include more than 80 seminars conveniently grouped by topic, such as general interest, proficient pilot, medical issues, and safety. 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. daily, closing at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 4 p.m. Saturday. Everything from aviation art to propellers to weather displays will be shown in the convention hall. The aircraft static display features everything from two-place trainers to business jets and the Diamond DA40 and new Cessna 182T, which will both be displayed with an optional Garmin G1000 two-panel avionics system with integrated GPS navigation, communications radios, and audio panel. The aircraft display also opens at 10 a.m. daily but closes at 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 4 p.m. Saturday.

Transient aircraft parking is at Northeast Philadelphia and Philadelphia International airports; arrival and departure procedures are available on AOPA Online. A complimentary shuttle will provide ground transportation from FBOs at both airports to the convention center daily through Saturday.

Additional information about AOPA Expo is available on AOPA Online. If you're not able to join us this year, you can follow the convention's news and developments through the online Virtual Expo. AOPA ePilot subscribers will be receiving daily editions of the newsletter with all of the show's highlights.

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