AOPA President Phil Boyer (center) with John
Burton (left) and Bill Eickhoff of Sun 'n Fun
Feb. 5, 2004 - For the first time in its 30-year history, the Sun 'n Fun fly-in and airshow has set aside a day to honor a single organization. Friday, April 16, will be AOPA Day at the Lakeland, Florida, event, and members will see benefits from the moment they step up to the entrance gate.
AOPA members will receive discounted admission on AOPA Day. The first 5,000 visitors to AOPA's tent on April 16 will receive a free CD-ROM disk containing AOPA's acclaimed Real-Time Flight Planner and an electronic version of AOPA's Airport Directory. In addition, there will be daily drawings for prizes throughout Sun 'n Fun. And just outside the tent, AOPA members will get their first look at this year's grand prize in the 2004 Win-A-Twin Sweepstakes, a better-than-new 1965 Piper Twin Comanche.
Sun 'n Fun's special recognition of AOPA coincides with the association's largest presence ever at the event that has come to represent the kick-off of the summer flying season.
"We're going to be there like never before," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Having a day set aside for AOPA is really a tribute to all of our members. Our association is the powerful advocate for general aviation that it is because of the strength of more than 400,000 voices speaking as one. We want to celebrate each and every one of those voices, and to demonstrate to pilots who have not yet joined the many benefits of being an AOPA member."
It all kicks off the evening before (April 15), when Boyer will host a Pilot Town Meeting (PTM) at the Florida Air Museum, adjacent to Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL), home of Sun 'n Fun.
"These meetings give me a chance to hear directly from pilots and help guide AOPA's efforts as we figure out what's important to our members. And PTMs are an opportunity for pilots to hear more about national, regional, and local issues their association is working on," said Boyer.
Throughout the seven-day event, AOPA staff members will be on hand in the association's tent to show pilots all the tools that AOPA offers to make flying safer, more affordable, and just plain fun. There will also be a hospitality area where members will be able to relax.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation will also be on hand, showing off its growing collection of free online safety courses. From the "Sky Spotter®" weather reporting course and "Say Intentions" on using air traffic control, to "Runway Safety" and the "Know Before You Go" airspace course, to "Single-Pilot IFR" and "IFR Adventures: Rules to Live By," ASF offers a wide variety of online educational opportunities. Many of the courses qualify for the ground portion of the FAA's Wings program.
ASF will also present seven safety seminars throughout Sun 'n Fun. Featured on AOPA Day will be "Ups and Downs of Takeoffs and Landings," led by ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg.
The 2004 Win-A-Twin Sweepstakes Twin Comanche that members will see at Sun 'n Fun will appear, on the outside, as it will when the winner taxis up to his home airport FBO sometime in early 2005. It will be sporting its new paint job, tip tanks, and speed mods by LoPresti.
But that's not the half of what AOPA has planned for this "Twinkie." The panel and interior remain works in progress but are expected to include a full Garmin avionics stack, including the CNX-80, the first certified WAAS-enabled GPS unit; an S-Tec two-axis autopilot; a Sandel EHSI; and a J.P. Instruments engine analyzer/fuel totalizer. And Airtex Interiors will make sure the ride is both comfortable and classy.
Anyone who joins or renews membership in AOPA during Sun 'n Fun or at any other time during 2004 is automatically entered to Win a Twin. Complete rules, alternate methods of entry, and eligibility requirements are available online.
For those flying to this year's Sun 'n Fun, the arrival procedures notam has already been published and is available on the Sun 'n Fun Web site. Driving directions are also available on the site.
"AOPA's presence at Sun 'n Fun and the PTM the night before are opportunities for us to meet our members and other pilots face to face and to hear what's on their minds," said Boyer. "And we hope it will let pilots truly experience AOPA and all that we do for and offer to them."