Manilow sang it best: "Time in New England, took me away...." Nearly 10,000 AOPA members felt the pull of New England for the fifty-second annual AOPA Expo, held on the East Coast for the first time in Hartford, Connecticut. Record-setting temperatures kept the New England fall from showing her magical colors, but record-setting attendance made this time in New England one of the most successful Expos on the East Coast.
Hartford's grand new Connecticut Convention Center—all 540,000 square feet of it—was a great host to AOPA Expo 2007. The 143,000-square-foot exhibit hall was comfortably filled with all the aviation tools and toys attendees could absorb. The spacious meeting rooms hosted packed seminars and meetings—including a hilarious talk by aviation's favorite humorist Rod Machado, whose seminar filled the 40,000-square-foot grand ballroom. Machado also entertained attendees at Expo's opening luncheon. Some members were crying, they were laughing that much.
On a more serious note, AOPA President Phil Boyer recognized award winners and friends to general aviation, AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Thomas B. Haines lauded aviation journalists, and AOPA's executive team reported on the issues and tasks facing the association. As you'll see on these pages, a great time was had by all.
AOPA President Phil Boyer welcomed attendees to the fifty-second annual AOPA Expo saying, "The world is changing—one GA is stronger than a fractured GA. Whether you burn turbine fuel or avgas, you're helping us strike new ground." At the aircraft display located on Hartford's Brainard Airport, attendees hopped into the cockpits of more than 80 displayed aircraft, including AOPA's 2007 Catch-A-Cardinal Sweepstakes aircraft. King Schools' John and Martha King gave our bird a thumb's up.
Aviation's funny man, Rod Machado, entertained AOPA members during Expo's opening luncheon telling stories and celebrating general aviation. In the 143,000-square-foot exhibit hall, the best of GA was on display, including Cessna's newest baby, the perfectly purple SkyCatcher. The final session of the three-day Expo featured AOPA's executive staff offering up the state of the association. The top management presented initiatives and projects to keep the cost of flying in check, enhance safety, and improve communication resources. Communications Executive Vice President Karen Gebhart out-funnied Machado by acknowledging Hartford's record heat and lack of autumn foliage by bringing to the podium "the only two fall leaves in Connecticut."
AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Thomas B. Haines recognized the journalists "who make a difference" to GA, including reporter Jennifer Manley of television station WVII in Bangor, Maine. Colorful aircraft attracted spectators at Brainard Airport. Attendees took full advantage of the opportunity to try out, put on, or play with the latest aviation products on display in the exhibit hall.
Party-goers swung out to the sounds of the Big Band era at the Friday night party at the New England Air Museum. AOPA President Phil Boyer told audiences that Hartford is a "terrific venue" and "it's worked out perfectly for us." Hot sunny skies greeted visitors to the aircraft display at Hartford-Brainard Airport, framed by the gracious city of Hartford.
The mammoth "Jack's Hack," a Boeing B-29A "Superfortress," was one of the display aircraft at the New England Air Museum. Diners at the Friday night party sampled gourmet offerings amid the wings and engines of assorted aircraft. "The Three Waiters," a musical trio patterned after the famous Three Tenors, performed for a sold-out audience at Saturday's closing banquet. The general session on Thursday focused on the very light jet movement, with Cessna Aircraft's Jack Pelton, Williams International's Matt Huff, and Socata owner Jim Robins discussing the revolution with Pilot's Tom Haines. "An important set of awards," said Phil Boyer of the ceremony at Saturday's closing banquet, which honored Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) with the association's prestigious Hartranft Award. "He is a friend of general aviation," Boyer said. Richard Beach received the Sharples Perpetual Award for his efforts at California's Montgomery Field.