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AOPA lends support to MODAERO's spring break

College students shaking off their winter blues will have an additional Spring Break option when the first MODAERO fly-in spreads its wings in south Texas March 16-19, 2016. Photo illustration courtesy of MODAERO

Organizers of the MODAERO spring break for pilots announced Dec. 14 that AOPA will be a key sponsor for the millennial-centered, high-energy aviation experience when the inaugural event spreads its wings in Texas next year.

MODAERO is cognizant of the value-add created by establishing a strategic partnership with the world’s largest aviation association,” event founder Brian Columbus wrote in a press release announcing the partnership. “Having the support of AOPA for marketing, planning and programming is invaluable to us. We couldn’t ask for a better strategic sponsor for our Inaugural Event.”

During a telephone conversation with AOPA, Columbus laid the foundation for his modern spring break party. He said an energetic mix of live music, aviation—and even some learning—should engage the millennial generation as they explore their spring entertainment and aviation options.

“There’s going to be live music every day and we’re having indoor drone races,” Columbus said. “We’ll have good food, good people, good times and interesting speakers. We’re trying to push the box and make it really interesting.”

Columbus said new sponsors are coming aboard every day and interest has picked up. The National Association of Flight Instructors, ExpressJet Airlines, flight school, Boldmethod, Share Aviation, and others are also sponsoring the event. Amelia Rose Earhart, a private pilot and former traffic and news reporter for Denver’s NBC affiliate, will be the master of ceremonies.

AOPA was an early adopter of MODAERO’s engagement strategy, and the association will be there for the party March 16 through 19, 2016, at the Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport (formerly Lone Star Executive Airport), said Jiri Marousek, AOPA senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “We are looking forward to seeing this millennial-centered, high-energy event concept come to life for this critical part of the aviation community,” Marousek said.

Columbus said he’s seen an explosion in general aviation’s online and social media spheres, but there hasn’t been a purpose-built event that targets the growing demographic of young aviators. “We believe this level of community participation is the key to growing the aviation population again,” Columbus said in the release.

In an earlier AOPA news story, Columbus said millennials represent 40 percent of all pilots and 70 percent of student pilots. The MODAERO aviation event during spring break showcases an opportunity to reshape the aviation industry so that it’s attractive to younger people through a celebration of culture, lifestyle, and marketing, he said. “This generation grew up with the Internet, they live on their cell phones, they’re hypermobile, and tech savvy. They are motivated by experiences and receptive to events, more so than with traditional marketing. The purpose of MODAERO is to give them their own space, communicate to them on their own terms, and repackage aviation in a way they can consume it.”

In addition to a variety of aviation and lifestyle seminars and exhibits, MODAERO spring breakers would have attractions and entertainment geared just for them, including concerts, for more of a festival type of feel. “It’s really a cross between a fly-in and something cultural like the South by Southwest event. We want to make it young, hip, and interesting to this demographic so they can get a real hands-on look at what aviation can offer,” he said.

The Conroe-North Houston airport is across the street from the Montgomery County Festival grounds and Lonestar Conference Center with nearby camping and facilities for education, a ballroom for keynote speakers, and 35 acres of exhibition grounds for static aircraft, Columbus said.

David Tulis
David Tulis
Senior Photographer
Senior Photographer David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a private pilot with single-engine land and sea ratings and a tailwheel endorsement. He is also a certificated remote pilot and co-host of the award-wining AOPA Hangar Talk podcast. David enjoys vintage aircraft ad photography.
Topics: AOPA, Fly-in, Events

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