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A golden opportunity in the Golden Isles

AOPA's final fly-in of 2014 is at St. Simons Island

Barbecue. Sweet tea. Beautiful beaches. A warm breeze. A friendly smile. Welcome to Dixie and St. Simons Island, Georgia, the host of AOPA’s final fly-in of 2014.

After crisscrossing the United States from the forests of New England to the hills of Southern California, AOPA wraps up its fly-in season on Nov. 8 at one of the top vacation destinations in the southern states. St. Simons Island is a treasure of nature, American history, and small-town hospitality.

Plan to arrive early for the pancake breakfast. For you campers, come the night before and set up the tent on the airport. Or stay at one of the island’s wonderful hotels. Plan to stay for great educational seminars, a fun atmosphere, hundreds of airplanes, and a chance to get out and enjoy Georgia in the fall.

St. Simons, Georgia, welcomes pilots to AOPA's last fly-in of 2014 on Nov. 8.

All about the airplanes

Most of us go to fly-ins to watch airplanes. There will be plenty of opportunity for that. Malcom McKinnon Airport (SSI) on St. Simons Island can accommodate a few hundred airplanes on the ground, and there’s overflow parking at nearby Brunswick Golden Isles Airport (BQK). There will also be a few dozen static display aircraft, from one-off traveling machines to the latest from general aviation’s best manufacturers.

The static display and the rest of the show will be housed in and around a private hangar, one of many at the pilot-friendly airport. Renn Gruber houses his aircraft management company out of the wonderful facility, and he says hosting is a great way to give back to an airport that has been good to him over the years. Assisting will be the airport’s FBO, Golden Isles Aviation, an incredibly welcoming facility with top-notch management that truly understands the value of general aviation.

Check out this DC-3 at St. Simons.Look in and around the show site and you’re likely to find a based DC-3 that’s flown regularly, as well as Aluminum Overcast, EAA’s B-17 that will once again join us for a slice of history and the chance to ride along in one of the country’s few airworthy bombers.

A chance to learn

Like other fly-ins AOPA has held this year, St. Simons offers some great learning opportunities for renters, owners, and even rusty pilots. The seminars kick off Friday evening with a Rusty Pilots seminar from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Join AOPA’s own expert instructors to learn the latest on airspace, regulations, and safety. Attending satisfies the ground portion of the flight review. RSVP for the free seminar here.

Saturday presents a bit of a dilemma. Will you learn about ADS-B or starting a flying club? Maybe you want to hear from AOPA’s John Yodice about FAA enforcement or former skipper of the USS Cole, Retired Navy Commander Kirk Lippold on decision making in times of crisis. You’ll have the opportunity to see these presenters and many more as part of the day’s seminar schedule. There are six seminars on the books right now. Plan to catch at least one.

And don’t miss AOPA President Mark Baker’s Pilot Town Hall at 2:45 p.m. on the main stage. He’ll discuss all that’s new in Washington, D.C., including the exemption petition of the third class medical certificate and the ADS-B mandate.

Food and fun

It wouldn’t be a fly-in without food, and we have you covered there as well. Arrive early for the pancake breakfast. It begins at 8:30 a.m. and runs until 10 a.m, and in the great fly-in tradition costs $5. You may even spot your favorite AOPA staffer flipping the flapjacks. Stay for lunch, which is free for AOPA members.

If you plan to stick around a little longer, you’ll find Southern Soul Barbeque within walking distance, and pilot-owned Barbara Jean’s Restaurant and Bar a short cab ride away.

In between great food, you’ll have plenty to do as you tour the exhibitors. From new gear such as headsets and GPS to aircraft services, a few dozen exhibitors will be on hand for information or to make a deal.

Find more information on the fly-in online. Make sure to RSVP for meals and events, or spend a little longer on-site and volunteer.

Visit the beach in November? You can during AOPA's St. Simons Fly-In Nov. 8.
Ian J. Twombly
Ian J. Twombly
Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.

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