The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) hosted its 15th annual Fly-In and Open House Saturday, June 4, at its Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK) headquarters, with thousands of members and other aviation enthusiasts in attendance.
"This year's Fly-In was another successful event, with exceptional attendance," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "These events are an opportunity for us to meet with our members and the community, to show them what we do year-round in the interest of general aviation."
Hundreds of aircraft arrived from airports up and down the East Coast, and as far away as Tennessee and Ohio. A temporary control tower was established to handle the extra traffic at FDK. In addition to the air traffic, the parking lots were at maximum capacity with community members and pilots who chose to drive in to the event.
This year, AOPA focused on encouraging nonpilots to begin flight training. "How to Start Learning to Fly," a new seminar, was a big hit for prospective pilots of all ages. Some 200 future pilots attended the seminar and were entered into a drawing to win one of 10 free introductory flights. Nonpilots also had their picture taken for the cover of AOPA Flight Training magazine while sitting inside a Cessna 172. As they sat in the cockpit, they used the opportunity to ask flight instructors questions about the aircraft and flight training. Additionally, the pilots who brought future pilots to the Fly-In received an AOPA flashlight and were eligible to win one of two headsets.
For more than 200 pre-registered pilots, the highlight of the Fly-In was the opportunity to complete part of the personal identification number (PIN) process required to fly into the "DC-3 airports" - College Park, Potomac Airfield, and Washington Executive/Hyde Field. Transient pilots have only been allowed to fly into those airports since February of this year, and only after completing a time-consuming initial security review and receiving a PIN. The process requires multiple trips to the airport they want to use, a trip to their FSDO, and also to Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA). But the pilots who signed up in advance were able to complete part of the process at Fly-In, eliminating two of the three trips to the Washington, DC, area.
Seminars ran throughout the day and were hosted by several aviation industry experts. Boyer presented a "hangar session" to a standing-room-only crowd. He discussed Mid-Atlantic region aviation issues and answered questions from attendees. Rod Machado, another favorite presenter, used humor and his years of experience to speak about safe flying techniques.
More than two dozen display aircraft were parked on the ramp outside of AOPA's headquarters. Headlining the aircraft display was AOPA's 2005 Commander Countdown Sweepstakes airplane, a Commander 112A, which attracted hundreds of members - each hoping to be the grand prize winner early next year. For the past few months, the Commander has been on an intense schedule of modifications, including an all-glass panel to replace the traditional instruments, a refurbished interior with leather seats, and a striking new paint scheme. More improvements are planned throughout the remainder of the year.
A large exhibitor tent allowed aviation businesses to display and sell their products, including aircraft insurance, avionics, books, and charts.
Complete coverage of the event, including pictures, is available online.
With more than 404,000 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 7, 2005