The seventeenth annual Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Fly-In and Open House was a huge success, with more than 5,000 pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and members of the local community attending the event on Saturday, June 2. Held at AOPA headquarters on the Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick, Md., the Fly-In and Open House coincided with Frederick Airport Appreciation Day.
"AOPA staff members look forward to Fly-In as an opportunity to speak with members face to face and share the joy of general aviation with non-pilots in our community," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
The weather was marginal in the early morning hours but quickly cleared up, allowing more than 300 airplanes to fly in. A temporary control tower was on the field to handle the increased traffic at the airport. Thousands of other people chose to drive in, bringing the total attendance to more than 5,000.
A big draw this year was the petition against user fees and increased taxes. Many pilots made that the first stop of the day - adding their signature to join with more than 22,000 others who have signed their names in opposition to the FAA's funding plan. Anyone who missed the petition at Sun 'n Fun or AOPA Fly-In can sign online at www.aopa.org/faapetition/.
Boyer addressed the FAA funding debate as he spoke to hundreds of pilots who attended his annual Fly-In "hangar session."
"First, take user fees off the table, even for the airlines. User fees are the beginning of the end of general aviation as we know it," said Boyer. "Second, know that the airlines are trying for another giant financial bailout by removing the only aviation tax that they pay. Finally, if there is a need to address growing use of the system by some segments of general aviation, primarily corporate operators, then let's pay for that with an incremental increase in the fuel tax."
Following Boyer's session, AOPA Project Pilot Spokesman Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, spoke to Fly-In attendees about learning to fly and sharing their love of flying with others. It was a friend who encouraged Lindbergh to take his first flight, and that is the basis of the Project Pilot program, which urges AOPA members to become mentors to people they know who want to begin flight training.
Other seminar speakers included popular aviation humorist Rod Machado and AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. There were a total of 12 seminars throughout the day.
Outside on the ramp, 47 general aviation aircraft - ranging from light sport aircraft to very light jets - were on display for attendees to see up close. In addition, Julie Boatman, project manager for the 2007 AOPA Catch-A-Cardinal Sweepstakes, presented attendees with photos and video of the Cessna 177 Cardinal's transformation in progress. The Cardinal is currently in Georgia awaiting its first engine run and test flight. Anyone who joins or renews membership in AOPA during 2007 is automatically entered in the sweepstakes. Complete rules, eligibility requirements, and alternate methods of entry are available online at www.aopa.org/sweeps/officialrules.html.
Under the big-top tent behind the AOPA headquarters building, 100 vendor exhibits offered products ranging from avionics and software to books and model airplanes.
With more than 412,000 members, AOPA is the world's largest civil aviation association, working to protect the interests of general aviation. Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. pilots are members of AOPA.
June 4, 2007