On Saturday, June 3, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association will once again open the doors of its headquarters building at Frederick Municipal Airport to members and aviation enthusiasts for the annual AOPA Fly-In and Open House. This year marks the sixteenth time AOPA has hosted the event, which is free and open to everyone.
"Many on our staff are pilots, and everyone here shares our members' passion for general aviation," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The annual Fly-In is an opportunity for the members to meet the people who work so hard on their behalf - and just as importantly, for the staff to greet the members they serve."
In addition, the City of Frederick has again scheduled its Airport Appreciation Day to coincide with AOPA's Fly-In. The combined events make a perfect excuse for anyone interested in airplanes - whether they're pilots or want to be - to come out and discover what a jewel the city's airport is and to see what a bustling benefit it is for the region.
The AOPA Fly-In and Open House has grown to be the largest one-day event of its kind in the country, drawing nearly 5,000 visitors last year. In good weather, hundreds of aircraft fly into the Frederick Municipal Airport, making it, for one day, at least, one of the busiest airports in the nation. The FAA operates a temporary control tower at the airport to handle the high volume of traffic.
During the Fly-In this year, AOPA will take the wraps off of a major campaign to help expand the U.S. pilot population.
Known as AOPA Project Pilot, the program pairs student pilots with experienced pilot-mentors who can reinforce what the students are learning from their flight instructors.
"Studies have shown that student pilots who have a mentor are three times more likely to complete their training and earn their pilot certificates than those on their own," said Boyer. "AOPA wants to give student pilots every chance to succeed, so we're going to call on all of our 408,000 members to find an aspiring pilot, help them get started, and see them through the training process."
Eric Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh and a pilot who has flown solo across the Atlantic in his own right, is the spokesman for AOPA Project Pilot. He'll be on hand to kick off the expanded, enhanced AOPA Project Pilot program and will host a seminar on learning to fly.
Lindbergh himself had a friend act as his mentor while he was learning to fly and knows the value of that support.
As always, the ramp outside of AOPA's headquarters will have a bunch of "toys" for airplane lovers. More than 40 aircraft will be on display - including a number from the newest category of aircraft: affordable, easy-to-fly light sport aircraft.
Headlining the display will be the grand prize in AOPA's Win a Six in '06 Sweepstakes - a 1967 Piper Cherokee Six-260. Over the course of the year, AOPA is completely updating the aircraft with an engine overhaul, a new paint scheme, and avionics upgrades to the panel. Then, in early 2007, the better-than-new airplane will be awarded to one lucky pilot. Anyone who joins or renews AOPA membership in 2006 is eligible to win the sweepstakes plane. Complete rules, eligibility requirements, and alternate methods of entry are available online.
In addition to the sweepstakes airplane and the light sport aircraft, all of the major general aviation aircraft manufacturers will be represented.
The AOPA Fly-In and Open House is much more than just a chance to get together, though. It's also a continuing education opportunity for pilots.
AOPA and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation will host seminars throughout the day on topics such as aviation safety, the latest GA issues, and emergency procedures.
Phil Boyer will host a hangar session at 12:30 p.m. The annual event attracts hundreds of pilots who gather to hear AOPA's president discuss current GA issues in the Mid-Atlantic region.
New this year, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation presents "Do the Right Thing: Decision Making for Pilots," which offers no-nonsense, real-world strategies for making better choices in the cockpit and on the ground. The seminar uses branching DVD technology to create interactive scenarios; audience members make decisions for the scenario pilots and then see the consequences of their decisions.
In addition, general aviation's reigning funny-man, Rod Machado, returns with his always-popular lighter-side look at aviation safety and pilot pratfalls.
Out in the big-top tent behind the AOPA headquarters building, more than 100 vendor exhibits will offer pilots and aviation enthusiasts everything from souvenirs, toys, and games, to the latest avionics, to engines and propellers.
"It's like a department store for pilots," said Boyer. "Everything they need under one roof."
AOPA's Fly-In and Open House begins at 8:30 a.m and ends at 5 p.m. Admission and parking are free. Vendors will be on-site throughout the day selling beverages, snacks, and meals.
The Frederick Municipal Airport is located off of Exit 56 (East Patrick Street) from Interstate 70. After exiting, follow the airport signs.
Traveling from Washington, D.C., take Interstate 270 North to I-70 East, then Exit 56.
From Baltimore, Md., take I-70 West to Exit 56.
From Loudoun County, Va., take Route 15 from Leesburg (joins Route 340 from Charles Town, W.Va.). Take Route 340 to I-70 just outside of Frederick. At the I-70/I-270 split stay left to continue on I-70 and take Exit 56.
From Harrisburg/Gettysburg, Pa., take Route 15 South to I-70 East and take Exit 56.
From Johnstown, Pa., and points west, take I-70 East to Exit 56.
Aircraft arrival procedures and more information, including the schedule of seminars and list of exhibitors, are available online.
With more than 408,000 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.
May 24, 2006