The exhibition hall was a vortex of activity Nov. 5 as manufacturers moved in airplanes, mock-ups, engines, propellers, and a dazzling variety of avionics in preparation for AOPA Expo, general aviation’s premiere event that begins Nov. 6 in San Jose, Calif.
The annual three-day gathering and celebration takes place this year at San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center and Norman Y. Mineta International Airport where more than 600 exhibitor booths, 80 new aircraft, and 10,000 aviation enthusiasts will participate.
“We hope to sell airplanes here—that’s number one,” said Kate Dougherty, a Cirrus spokeswoman. “But we’re also here to support AOPA and, through AOPA, the general aviation industry.”
Cirrus introduced its single-engine, parachute-equipped SR-20 at Expo 10 years ago, and this year the company, based in Duluth, Minn., is focusing on its SJ-50 Vision, a five-seat jet with a distinctive V-tail. The Vision is in the midst of flight testing, and Cirrus has collected $100,000 deposits on about 450 to date.
Mike Norby of Aircraft Spruce and Specialty busily filled a display case with a broad variety of goods ranging from aircraft cleaners to electronics.
“We do a lot of sales here,” Norby said. “The main thing is to get out the word that Aircraft Spruce has everything for airplanes. If pilots need anything for a certified or experimental aircraft, we’ve got it—or we can get it.”
Norby said his company has seen a great deal of interest in new portable GPS receivers, including Garmin’s 696 that will be introduced at Expo, as well as Bendix-King’s AV8OR and Vision 3D devices.
“There’s a lot of buzz about those products,” Norby said. “People want to hold them in their hands before they buy. And they are buying.”
Not all the action at Expo centers on commerce, however.
Jack McCormick, president of Baja Bush Pilots, said hundreds of his club’s 4,000 members will attend Expo—and it’s a great place to socialize, renew old friendships, and tell flying stories.
“Our booth will be full the next three days,” McCormick said. “About half the people here will be members. Half will be people interested in flying south of the border. And we’ll just have fun. It’s all about goodwill.”