AOPA Expo bound!
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, TSA chief Rear Adm. David Stone, and SpaceShipOne pilot Mike Melvill will be the featured speakers at AOPA Expo 2004. General aviation's premiere convention and trade show kicks off this Thursday (October 21) at the Long Beach Convention Center.
More than 500 vendor exhibits will fill the convention hall, while some 70 aircraft, including the grand prize in AOPA's Win-A-Twin sweepstakes, will be on static display a short shuttle bus ride away at Long Beach/Daugherty Field.
Attendees will be able to take part in more than 75 hours of informative, fun, eye-opening seminars, along with free general sessions and entertaining social events. ( Custom-create your own schedule of AOPA Expo 2004 events and seminars!)
Preserving America's airports. Temporary flight restrictions. Maintaining high-quality, no-fee preflight briefings. These issues are of vital importance to general aviation pilots. They're also issues facing FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. On Thursday, Blakey will discuss many such issues as she speaks to AOPA members during the opening general session of AOPA Expo 2004.
Since moving into the administrator's office, Blakey has participated in AOPA Expo every year. This year Expo attendees will "meet" the administrator via a live, two-way video and audio feed. Blakey will address AOPA's members and answer their questions from FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"So often, it feels like the FAA's primary focus is on the 'big iron' - the airlines and the high-flying corporate jets," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "That's why our members look forward to hearing directly from the administrator each year at AOPA Expo. Her participation underscores the importance of general aviation in America."
Friday morning's general session begins with Rear Adm. David M. Stone, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), speaking on "General Aviation Security: A View From the Top." This will be the first time that the head of the TSA has met face-to-face with AOPA members.
"Adm. Stone's appearance at AOPA Expo will give general aviation pilots a rare opportunity to hear directly from the man responsible for securing America's airports," said Boyer. "And every bit as important, it will give him a chance to hear directly from GA pilots."
Stone accepted Boyer's personal invitation to speak at AOPA Expo during a private meeting in August. He has been a vocal proponent of AOPA's Airport Watch and other security measures adopted voluntarily by general aviation. As acting administrator of the TSA, Stone oversaw the drafting and implementation of that agency's Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports, which draw heavily on recommendations made by a GA industry working group, including AOPA.
"As an association dedicated to protecting the interests of general aviation, AOPA is ready, willing, and able to challenge TSA when necessary," said Boyer. "But under Adm. Stone's leadership and that of his predecessor, Adm. James Loy, we've found an agency willing to listen to general aviation's concerns, even when we don't see eye-to-eye with them."
Mike Melvill, who has twice piloted SpaceShipOne into space, will be the keynote speaker at the Expo opening luncheon. He'll narrate an exciting 17-minute video of his suborbital adventures and take questions about the flights.
Melvill, who has been an AOPA member for 35 years, is looking forward to giving something back to the association with this opportunity to talk pilot-to-pilot at AOPA Expo 2004. "AOPA has done so much for me and other pilots," he said. "They're the best. I don't know what we'd do without them."
With 21 years as a test pilot, Melvill has accumulated 7,000 flight hours in 123 fixed-wing and 11 rotary-wing aircraft. In addition to SpaceShipOne, Melvill piloted the first flights of more than half a dozen aircraft. He also was involved in the testing of the Beech Starship prototype aircraft and Fairchild's Next Generation Trainer (NGT) for the U.S. Air Force. Melvill is one of only three people, including Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, to fly Voyager, the aircraft that made the first and only nonstop, unrefueled flight around the world.
The Saturday morning general session will give AOPA members an opportunity to hear directly from the association's top leaders with a report from "Team AOPA."
October 15, 2004