Despite threatening skies all day, some 4,500 pilots and aviation enthusiasts attended the sixteenth annual Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Fly-In and Open House on Saturday, June 3, at the Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK) headquarters of AOPA in Frederick, Md.
The highlight of the show was the launch of AOPA's newly expanded Project Pilot program, with a flag-raising ceremony featuring AOPA President Phil Boyer and AOPA Project Pilot spokesman Erik Lindbergh. The program calls on each AOPA member to become a Mentor to someone they know who is interested in learning to fly, in order to increase the number of new pilots in the aviation community. Members who signed up at Fly-In to be a Mentor received an AOPA Project Pilot duffel bag. "Expanding the pilot population is absolutely essential to keeping general aviation in the United States strong," stated Boyer.
More than 100 aircraft flew in for the event, under the control of a temporary control tower that was set up at FDK for the day. In addition, thousands of people from the local community and beyond chose to drive to the event.
"Each Fly-In is an opportunity for us to open our doors to our members and the general public," said Boyer. "We enjoy meeting face-to-face with the members we serve throughout the year, and also share our enthusiasm about general aviation with the public."
At his annual Fly-In "hangar session," Boyer spoke to hundreds of pilots about general aviation issues in the Mid-Atlantic region, followed by Lindbergh's presentation about how he became a pilot and the importance of Mentors in aviation. In addition, popular aviation humorist Rod Machado returned this year to present a seminar about in-flight emergencies that combined laughter with education.
Adding to the 12 hours of seminars was the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, which made several presentations including "Do the Right Thing - Decision Making for Pilots." The popular seminar offers no-nonsense, real-world strategies that can help pilots avoid the cause of the majority of aviation accidents and lets the audience participate in the decision-making process for each scenario. The Air Safety Foundation also provided safety information throughout the day in the form of Safety Advisor publications and DVDs.
On the ramp, 44 general aviation aircraft were on display, headlined by AOPA's Win a Six in '06 Sweepstakes airplane, a 1967 Piper Cherokee Six. It attracted crowds of curious pilots throughout the day, especially eager to see its new avionics panel, and each hoping to be the winner of the airplane early next year. The Six will undergo more improvements throughout the year, including a fully refurbished interior and a new paint scheme. It will make appearances at upcoming aviation shows, including the AOPA Expo in Palm Springs, Calif., November 9-11. Anyone who joins or renews membership in AOPA during the 2006 calendar year is automatically entered in the sweepstakes. Complete rules, eligibility requirements, and alternate methods of entry are available online.
Under the big-top tent behind the AOPA headquarters building, some 100 vendor exhibits offered products ranging from avionics and insurance to books and model airplanes.
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.
June 7, 2006