The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) wrapped up its 2007 Expo at the Connecticut Convention Center and Hartford-Brainard Airport on October 6, 2007. Nearly 10,000 people attended AOPA's first Expo ever held in New England.
"We are very pleased with the success of AOPA Expo and the number of members and local residents who came out to enjoy the show," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "AOPA Expo is the place to find the latest that general aviation has to offer, and aviation enthusiasts of all ages could be found at the exhibit hall, seminars, and aircraft display."
More than 1,000 aircraft flew in to Hartford-Brainard, Bradley International, and other area airports for all or part of the three-day convention and trade show. In all, 9,710 people attended during the three days of AOPA Expo 2007. That's the highest number ever to attend an Expo in the Northeast, and the second-highest attendance for any East Coast Expo. (AOPA alternates annually between East and West coasts, and alternates East Coast Expos between Florida and the Northeast.)
During the three-day show, which ran October 4-6, more than 80 aircraft were on display at Hartford-Brainard Airport, more than 580 exhibits filled the Connecticut Convention Center exhibit hall, and three days' worth of seminars offered something for every aviation enthusiast who attended. In addition, M. Jodi Rell, governor of Connecticut, issued a proclamation declaring October 1-6, 2007, as General Aviation Week in the state and the city of Hartford.
Each day of the show began with a general session. The first one, hosted by AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Tom Haines, was a discussion of pilots transitioning from piston-powered aircraft to jets. Cessna CEO Jack Pelton; Matt Huff, vice president of engine development for Williams International; Eclipse Aviation President and CEO Vern Raburn; and Jim Robins, entrepreneur and Socata TBM 700 pilot, were the panelists.
The day two general session highlighted the importance of defending and promoting America's general aviation airports. AOPA's Airport Support Network, celebrating its tenth anniversary, was applauded for its efforts and the dedication of its more than 1,900 volunteers nationwide.
AOPA's executive team spoke at the third general session, to update attendees about the latest projects and products from AOPA headquarters. Among the topics discussed were FAA funding, the new AOPA Online, and AOPA Air Safety Foundation courses.
Seminar topics at AOPA Expo included FAA regulations, medical certification, popular flying destinations, and aviation humor. For the first time, AOPA Air Safety Foundation live seminars at Expo were recorded and will be made available online for all pilots to view, courtesy of United Technologies. The seminars can be found on AOPA Online beginning the first week in November.
AOPA's 2007 Sweepstakes Catch-A-Cardinal headlined the aircraft display of more than 80 airplanes at Hartford-Brainard Airport. Pilots lined up to look at the 1977 Cessna 177B's new panel and leather interior. One lucky pilot will win the refurbished airplane in early 2008.
Inside the exhibit hall at the Connecticut Convention Center, more than 580 vendors represented all segments of the general aviation industry. Companies were selling aircraft, headsets, avionics, books, and everything else an aviation enthusiast would want.
At the Opening Luncheon, AOPA honored journalists from the general media for their fair, accurate, and insightful coverage of general aviation. Jennifer Manley, of WVII-TV in Bangor, Maine; Dave Hirschman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; and San Diego Union-Tribune's David Hasemyer each won the prestigious Max Karant Award. Hasemyer credited fellow Union-Tribune reporter Jeff McDonald for their success in covering a controversial building project near San Diego's Montgomery Field.
Two of AOPA's highest honors were presented at the Closing Banquet. U.S. Representative Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) was awarded the Joseph B. "Doc" Hartranft, Jr. Award for his longtime support of general aviation. The prestigious award is given annually to the federal, state, or local government official who has made the most significant contribution during the year on behalf of general aviation.
The Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award, given annually to a private citizen for the greatest selfless commitment to general aviation (GA) by a private individual, was presented to AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Richard Beach for his tireless work in protecting San Diego's Montgomery Field from a tower deemed a safety hazard by FAA.
Two lucky AOPA Expo attendees won prizes just for signing up for AOPA Project Pilot. A random drawing of AOPA Project Pilot teams who signed up on-site provided an extra incentive for students and future pilots to fulfill their dream of learning how to fly. AOPA gave away $2,500 for flight training to student pilot Megan Fenwick of Washington, D.C. One mentor, Robert Benda II of Centennial, Colo., won a Sennheiser HMEC 460 Headset.
Next year, AOPA Expo will be in San Jose, California, at the state-of-the-art convention center in the capital of Silicon Valley. World-class hotels and restaurants can be found throughout San Jose and neighboring areas. Dozens of aircraft on display, hundreds of exhibits, and three days of seminars will be featured at AOPA Expo 2008. Mark your calendar now to attend the show.
With more than 413,000 members, representing more than two-thirds of all pilots in the United States, AOPA is the largest, most influential aviation association in the world. AOPA has achieved its prominent position through effective advocacy, enlightened leadership, technical competence, and hard work. Providing member services that range from representation at the federal, state, and local levels to legal services, advice, and other assistance, AOPA has built a service organization that is without peer to any other in the aviation community.
October 12, 2007