The Mid-Atlantic's famously fickle weather cooperated once again, providing CAVU (ceiling and visibility unlimited) and temperatures in the 70s for the tenth annual Fly-In to AOPA headquarters.
Some 760 aircraft flew in from as far away as Quebec, Georgia, Arizona, and even Temecula, California, and an estimated 6,500 people turned out for what has become the biggest one-day aviation event of its type on the East Coast.
Once again, many of the attendees came for the more than 25 hours of free aviation safety seminars. All seminars were standing room only. An extra session of the Air Safety Foundation's "GPS for VFR Operations" had to be added.
"General aviation pilots are dedicated to improving their skills and knowledge," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "It was a beautiful day for flying and to be outside. That so many pilots chose to spend part of the day inside a classroom really speaks to that dedication."
Seminars ranged from "Operations at Towered Airports" to "Protecting Your Medical Certification."
A special FAA medical certification seminar included a presentation by Federal Air Surgeon Jon Jordan, M.D., the first time the FAA's top medical officer has addressed an AOPA Fly-In crowd.
AOPA's annual event was also the first public display of the Extra 400. Among the 47 other aircraft on static display were two Cirrus SR20s, a Micco SP20, the new Commander 115, and new models from Cessna, Mooney, Raytheon, and Piper.
Classic aircraft were well represented as well, including a brilliant yellow Beech Staggerwing.
The center of attraction, however, was the 2000 AOPA sweepstakes plane—the Millennium Mooney. Fresh out of the paint shop, the refurbished 201's striking metallic paint drew admiration from hundreds of pilots. (New or renewing AOPA members this year are eligible to win the Millennium Mooney.)
For this one day, Frederick was the busiest airport in the region, surpassing nearby Baltimore-Washington International, Reagan National, and Dulles International airports. The FAA set up a temporary tower to handle the traffic.
The FAA's Leesburg Automated Flight Service Station provided on-site departure briefings, utilizing the AOPA Online Weather service available free to members.
The next opportunity to share in an AOPA gathering comes this October 20-22 at AOPA Expo 2000 in Long Beach, California.
June 3, 2000