The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) will hold its annual Expo in Tampa, Florida, this year. To be held November 3-5 at the Tampa Convention Center, general aviation's premier trade show and convention provides three days of activities and exhibits for pilots, aircraft owners, and prospective pilots.
"This is the first time we've held our Expo in Tampa," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Its warm weather, fun attractions, and several convenient airports make it a favorite destination among pilots. We look forward to a successful show at this new location."
As is tradition, the Expo will kick off with an interactive general session at 9 a.m. on November 3 - the first of three such sessions during the three-day event. These general sessions are a way for AOPA members and Expo visitors to hear about current aviation issues and ask questions of high-level industry and government leaders, as well as AOPA executive staff members. These sessions are free to all attendees each morning.
At the conclusion of each day's general session, Expo attendees will head to the exhibit hall, aircraft display area, and attend numerous informational and safety-oriented seminars.
More than 530 exhibitors will fill the main hall, selling products such as the latest in navigation and avionics, all types of pilot gear, charts, and insurance, allowing attendees to try out their latest avionics, and educating visitors about new technology, and the best available in general aviation and safety. Visitors are invited to stop by the complimentary Internet Café, courtesy of Expo Platinum Sponsor DTC DUAT, and check weather or even their e-mails while in the Hall.
Just a short shuttle ride away at Peter O. Knight Airport, more than 70 aircraft will be on display for those who are shopping for a new aircraft or just want to see the latest models. New this year, a dedicated section for light sport aircraft will be part of the display. Also at the airport will be hands-on product demonstrations and demo flights for those interested in purchasing an aircraft. (Demo flights must be arranged in advance with the appropriate vendor.) Expo's aircraft display will feature the 2005 AOPA Commander Countdown sweepstakes airplane. AOPA members have followed along as the Commander 112A has undergone major modifications throughout the year, including a new interior, top-of-the-line avionics, new paint, an upgraded engine, and three-blade propeller. Visitors are encouraged to stop by and check out the airplane that one lucky AOPA member will win early next year.
Complimentary round-trip shuttle service, sponsored by Expo's Gold Sponsor, Cessna Aircraft, will be provided from the Tampa Convention Center to the aircraft display at Peter O. Knight Airport.
With more than 70 hours of seminars, there is a topic to interest every Expo attendee. This year's schedule features a technology track that offers seminars only about aviation-related technology. On the list are: Free Graphic Weather Datalink Services, WAAS: What Does It Mean for IFR?, and VFR Navigation and GPS: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Besides favorites from past years, the 2005 Expo has some new seminars presented by key AOPA staff and industry experts, on topics ranging from aircraft ownership, medical concerns, new pilots, and safety. The following are some of the new, featured seminars: The Last Five Miles: Are you Ready?; Getting Started with Aircraft Ownership; Florida Flying Weather; Aeronautical Decision Making; Recreational Pilot: Keeping Flying Fun; The One-Hour Pilot Tune-Up; and East Coast Fly-Outs.
Rod Machado, popular aviation humorist and flight instructor, will return to Expo this year to present his fun and educational seminars that in the past have attracted standing-room-only crowds. He will also be the guest speaker at the Expo luncheon on November 3.
Expo promises to be entertaining as well as educational. It begins with the Thursday night Welcome Reception, where attendees can meet up with old friends. On Friday night, the dinner event will take visitors back in time to party on the waterfront with pirates in the tradition of West Florida's legendary 18th-century buccaneer, Jose Gasper.
The grand finale banquet on Saturday night is a fun way for Expo attendees to wrap up their visit. Featuring a lavish dinner and live entertainment, there will also be a video presentation of the convention and a special presentation of two of aviation's most prestigious awards. The J.B. "Doc" Hartranft Award will recognize the government official who did the most to defend and preserve general aviation during the year. The Laurance P. Sharples Perpetual Award will honor the individual who displayed the greatest, selfless commitment to general aviation by a private citizen.
It costs as little as $25/day to attend the general sessions, exhibit hall, and aircraft display at Expo 2005 for visitors who register in advance. To do all that and also attend any seminars, the price is only $45/day. Advance registration is now available online at www.aopa.org/expo/.
Also online, there is a form to reserve hotel rooms. Because Expo attracts thousands of people, hotel reservations should be made well in advance.
After completing their registration, attendees can customize their AOPA Expo schedule by visiting the Expo Web site and selecting the events they want to attend. The personalized schedule can then be printed to use as a reference during the show.
VFR arrival procedures for attendees flying to Expo will be posted online at www.aopa.org/expo/ once they are finalized.
The more-than-404,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has represented the interests of general aviation pilots since 1939. General aviation includes all flying except the scheduled airlines and the military. Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. pilots, and three-quarters of the GA pilots, are AOPA members.
July 20, 2005