AOPA’s fifth regional fly-in of the year, held in Chino, California, on Sept. 20, ended with a number of new AOPA Fly-In records. The event saw the largest number of display aircraft to date, as well as the largest number of exhibitors. Air traffic control tracked 329 arrivals to Chino Airport during the event, and a number of local aircraft were on display as well.
A thin cloud layer early in the day discouraged some VFR pilots, and many decided to drive to Chino instead. More than 950 cars were parked by a crew of more than 300 volunteers. There was a steady stream of IFR arrivals, as well, until the cloud cover dissipated around 11 a.m. More than 2,300 lunches were served, most by the 13 food trucks brought to the airport for the event.
As an unexpected treat for attendees, Goodyear’s West Coast-based blimp performed a low-altitude pass along Chino’s east/west runways. Chris Kotlewski of San Bernardino pointed out the blimp to his two-year-old daughter Kyla, who was only nominally interested. “She’s getting pretty tired,” he said, as she snuggled her face in his shoulder.
Martin Renschler of San Diego was one of the IFR arrivals; the flight took him 55 minutes in a flying club Cessna 172. He had been told to expect to hold, “but they took me right in,” he said. Renschler was glad he made it to the event; the aircraft he originally scheduled would not start, but he was able to call several pilots on the schedule and move them between aircraft, so that one would be available for him for the day. “I flew out with another pilot from the same flying club. He saw on the schedule that I was flying to Chino and asked if he could tag along.”
Chuck Stuewe of Chino Hills bases his Cessna 401 at Chino. “I’ve already been to two of the seminars,” he said around midday. “I never got to go to seminars during Summit in Palm Springs or Long Beach. I was always with friends who wanted to check out the aircraft and avionics.” Stuewe praised both maintenance expert Mike Busch’s seminar on engine health and the Air Safety Institute’s “What Went Wrong: Accident Case Study Live,” presented by Kristine Hartzell.
Kendall Wagner, who flies out of Chino, was at the fly-in with his dog, Abbey. “She loves to fly,” he said. “Believe it or not, I get to fly a [P-51] Mustang. She doesn’t get to fly in the Mustang but she loves to fly in the Bonanza.”
The event was “super-enjoyable,” said Brittany Greer; she and her husband keep their Piper Cherokee 180 at the French Valley Airport. “It’s nice to have all these vendors in one place.” Her son, Josiah, age 5, was especially interested in the Sennheiser headset display.
Bryan Tappen of Fairbanks, Alaska—who is in Southern California to attend dental school—earned his private pilot certificate in 2009. After aviation author, educator, and humorist Rod Machado’s presentation, Tappen asked Machado to sign his logbook. “He was my first flight instructor, on Microsoft Flight Simulator X,” Tappen said. Machado gladly agreed.
A Pilot Town Hall with AOPA President Mark Baker concluded the day’s program. After discussing the synergies being achieved by AOPA’s cooperation with EAA on several important current initiatives, Baker was joined on stage by EAA Chairman Jack Pelton. “We have so many issues that we’re working hand-in-glove together,” Pelton said.
As of Friday, Baker said, 170 members of Congress have signed on in support of third class medical reform. He anticipates the rulemaking, currently under review, will be released by the FAA in early December. “They don’t really want Congress telling them what to do,” he said. “Stay tuned—something’s finally happening.”
Baker also mentioned progress with Customs and Border Protection, following his meeting with the CBP commissioner, which led to some program changes and appear to have halted the controversial stops of general aviation pilots flying within the U.S. borders. This update was acknowledged by the pilot audience with vigorous applause.
Baker told the crowd that AOPA will continue its regional fly-ins during 2015. “We’re really happy with this format. We hope you are,” he said. The crowd’s round of applause provided a clear answer.
AOPA’s next regional event will be the Homecoming Fly-In, held at AOPA’s headquarters in Frederick, Maryland, on Oct. 4.