More than 10,000 pilots, their friends, and family members are expected at the Long Beach Convention Center October 20-22 as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) hosts AOPA Expo 2000, expected to be its largest annual convention and exhibition ever.
More than 2,500 general aviation aircraft are expected at Long Beach Airport during the course of the three-day event. The FAA, working with AOPA, has instituted special air traffic procedures in the L.A. Basin to ensure safety and prevent air traffic delays.
This is first time the 360,000-member AOPA, ranked among the 100 largest membership organizations in the nation, has held its convention in Long Beach. The event alternates between East and West coasts each October. AOPA is based outside Washington, D.C.
"AOPA's debut in Long Beach is symbolic of general aviation's recent rebirth and the importance of general aviation (private and business flying) in California," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The spirited renewal of Long Beach has been matched by its complete reversal of policy toward its airport and the role of general aviation there."
The sold-out AOPA exhibit hall will host more than 500 booths displaying the latest in aviation technology, training information, flight simulation, and other products for pilots and aircraft owners.
More than 80 aircraft will be on display at the Long Beach Airport, from two-seat training aircraft to business jets. Of special interest to area residents will be the new Jetcruzer 500, a new technology single-engine turboprop aircraft to be manufactured by Long Beach-based AASI Aircraft.
AOPA Expo emphasizes extensive educational experiences as well as product demonstrations, major speakers, and social opportunities for pilots. More than 90 hours of seminars will cover 82 topics from safety to public service flying.
Registered nonpilots (usually pilot spouses or frequent passengers) can partake of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's famed Pinch-Hitter ® course to learn the basics of aircraft control and landing in an emergency. Each day's free (for registered attendees) first-come, first-served four-hour session will accommodate 145. Since 1963, Pinch-Hitter ® graduates have saved several aircraft in emergencies and many grads eventually become pilots.
General aviation's much improved safety record will be the highlight of the opening session at 9 a.m. on Friday, October 20, as the affiliated AOPA Air Safety Foundation celebrates its fiftieth anniversary.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation is the largest private, nonprofit organization in the United States providing research, safety education, and training to the nation's general aviation pilots. It is funded primarily by donations from individual pilots.
Before the foundation was established in November 1950, the general aviation accident rate was as much as five times worse than today (in fatal accidents) and 10 times worse in total accidents. At worst during the post-war flying boom, every 100,000 flying hours yielded 77 accidents including seven fatal crashes. Today, the same flying results in seven total accidents with about one fatal accident.
FAA Administrator Jane Garvey will face the AOPA membership at 9 a.m. Saturday, October 21. The Federal Aviation Administration chief will address pilots' concerns about the agency's budget, the modernization of the air traffic control system, and the continuing effect of urban sprawl on general aviation airports.
The Sunday morning, October 22, general session will feature the "Team AOPA" report to members, including the announcement of exciting new services for pilots and new programs to reduce the cost of flying.
At the AOPA Expo banquet Sunday evening, October 22, the pilots association will present its highest honor for local action to Hawthorne, California, resident Gary D. Parsons. Parsons has battled with the Hawthorne City Council against developers' schemes to close Hawthorne airport.
The large, single-runway airport is a reliever airport (a general aviation alternative) to LAX. It provides air access to the nearby cluster of major aerospace industries.
U.S. Senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.), the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, will also be honored October 22 for his work on landmark legislation this year that guarantees adequate funding to improve the nation's airports and air traffic control system.
Wrapping up AOPA Expo Sunday evening is an election eve treat: an expected sell-out performance by The Capitol Steps, the riotous Washington comedy troupe of ex-Capitol Hill staffers who entertain with send-ups of all political persuasions. This rare West Coast appearance is a first for AOPA Expo.
AOPA Expo 2000 is open to the interested public. Daily access to the exhibit hall and aircraft display is $30. For more information, call 888/GO2-EXPO.
Nearly 50,000 California pilots are members of AOPA.
October 19, 2000