More than 5,000 pilots, future pilots, and their families and friends turned out for AOPA's Fifteenth Annual Fly-In and Open House on Saturday.
What started out as a gray morning turned into a beautiful afternoon, and some 250 airplanes took advantage of the conditions and a temporary control tower to land at Frederick Municipal Airport for the event. Thousands of others arrived by car.
Their enthusiasm for AOPA and GA was contagious.
"This is the best organization in the world; it keeps us flying," said Lisa Kondrick, who flew in with her husband in their 1948 Navion. "We're proud of [AOPA President] Phil Boyer. He's done a great job for GA, especially after 9/11. Nobody likes us little guys anymore, but AOPA fights for us."
Security measures and operational changes that grew out of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, were top-of-mind for many pilots at the event. An informal discussion with AOPA President Phil Boyer that centered on the nearby Washington Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) was a top draw.
Seminars on topics ranging from single-pilot IFR to keeping the costs of flying and insurance down attracted some 3,000 participants. As always, aviation educator and humorist Rod Machado drew a capacity crowd, as did many of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's safety seminars.
Irina Klissourova, a 13-year-old flight student, said she attended several seminars during her first AOPA Fly-In. "It gives you a lot of opportunities to figure out what you want to do," she said.
Some 250 prospective pilots had the chance to talk to a flight instructor and learn more about what's involved in learning to fly. Ten lucky participants won gift certificates for a Discovery Flight while the pilots who brought them had a chance to win one of two headsets from Lightspeed and Pilot USA.
And almost 200 pilots took part in a special opportunity to complete part of the personal identification process required to fly into the "DC-3 airports," College Park Airport (CGS), Potomac Airfield (VKX), and Washington Executive/Hyde Field (W32).
Nearly 100 exhibitors provided one-stop shopping for everything from headsets and flight bags to avionics and aircraft interiors. An expansive static display featured aircraft from Adam, Cessna, Cirrus, Diamond, EADS Socata, Lancair, Mooney, Tiger, and more.
On-site weather briefings helped pilots get home safely at the end of an exciting day.
Join us next year - Saturday, June 3, 2006 - for another chance to visit AOPA headquarters and see the latest and greatest that GA has to offer.
June 4, 2005