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AOPA’s third fly-in of the year conquered the weatherAOPA’s third fly-in of the year conquered the weather

Maybe it’s because pilots are accustomed to dealing with weather. Maybe it’s because the events and attractions at AOPA’s Regional Fly-Ins resonate so well with local populations. Whatever the reason, AOPA’s Battle Creek Fly-In at Michigan’s W. K. Kellogg Airport overcame a bout with early morning rain showers Sept. 17 and gave its estimated 1,960 attendees a great weekend.

AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In

  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    Visitors explore the more than 40 aircraft on display at AOPA's 2016 Battle Creek Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    A family inspects a Cessna Caravan single-engine turboprop on display at AOPA's Battle Creek Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    A Waco on display basks in the lowering sun as AOPA's Battle Creek Fly-In draws to a close. Early rain and clouds gave way to a beautiful afternoon. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    AOPA Aviation Ambassador Andy Miller, center, talks with visitors to the AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    Around-the-world pilot Adrian Eichhorn, center, talks with Western Michigan University aviation students Brett Been, left, and Trevor Newhouse, right. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    AOPA's Battle Creek Fly-In attracted several dozen aircraft campters, despite a forecast for overnight rain Friday. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    Battle Creek Mayor Dave Walters, center, welcomed visitors to the fly-in. Explaning his connections to aviation and the airport, he displayed his late father's World War II flight jacket. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    Deacon Pinegar, almost 2, plays with a toy airplane at AOPA's 2016 Battle Creek Fly-In. He attended with his parents, Kevin Pinegar and Jennifer Hampton, and his older sister. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    From left, Jack Pelton, EAA chairman and CEO; Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs and advocacy; and Mark Baker, AOPA president and CEO, take questions during the Pilot Town Hall at the Battle Creek Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    AOPA President Mark Baker speaks with guests during the pancake breakfast at AOPA's 2016 Battle Creek Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    Some morning rain didn't keep these folks from coming out to AOPA's 2016 Battle Creek Fly-In. Rain stopped by mid-morning and skies cleared in the afternoon. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    Participants in Saturday's Rusty Pilots program study materials during AOPA's Battle Creek Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    Yankee Warrior, the Yankee Air Museum's B-25, rolls out after a local flight during AOPA's Battle Creek Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    The band's saxophone player serenades the Barnstormers Party crowd during AOPA's 2016 Battle Creek Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    The Yankee Air Museum's B-25 Mitchell set the scene for Friday's Barnstormers Party during the Battle Creek Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    A fleet of Waco biplanes greets visitors arriving on Friday for AOPA's 2016 Battle Creek Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    Dave Pasick, Waco Aircraft's paint department manager, polishes a biplane's cowl in preparation for AOPA's Battle Creek Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • AOPA Battle Creek Fly-In
    Kim Heitmeyer, a recent Western Michigan University graduate, takes a virtual reality tour of the univerisity's aviation campus. Photo by Mike Collins.

Rain simply doesn’t deter AOPA Fly-In visitors, and that’s a proven fact. In all, an estimated 172 airplanes flew in, including 35 airplanes that took their places in the static display. In the exhibitors hall 42 companies were set up to sell their wares. In addition, some 450 people went to the popular Friday night Barnstormers Party—and let’s not forget another 20 campers who braved the elements over Friday night and Saturday morning.

Highlighting the static display were a wide variety of airplanes, ranging from the B-25D Yankee Warrior of the Willow Run, Michigan, airport; to a 1959 Cessna 175 Skylark owned by the local Hangar 20 Flying Club; to a rare, fully restored 1964 Comanche 400. Of course, the Waco Classic Aircraft Co.—based at Kellogg Field—also had a fleet of brand-new Waco YMF-5s on the ramp, as well as its Great Lakes by Waco biplane. Textron Aviation brought a new G58 Baron, Cessna 182, and Cessna Caravan to the show; Pilatus had its new PC-12NG; Eclipse its Eclipse SE demonstrator (on loan from the Veterans Airlift Command); Mooney its new Ovation; and even an Aero Vodochody L-29 Delphin was on site. The Recreational Aviation Foundation brought a Piper Cherokee, and Paradise Bound Ministries its Peterson-modified Cessna 182, complete with cowl-mounted canard and 300-horsepower engine. On Nov. 19, Paradise Bound will award a trip for two in the 182 to Guatemala, where it has a mission.

The pilot seminars, always a hit, were well attended, with the Rusty Pilots Seminar taking the cake with a full house at the You Can Fly pavilion. Big crowds also flocked to AOPA Air Safety Institute Senior Vice President George Perry’s “Mind over Matter” safety talk at the main stage tent, as well as Adrian Eichhorn’s seminar on night flying, to name just two. AOPA President Mark Baker finished the fly-in with a roundup of the latest details of the victorious new third class medical reform initiative, as well as AOPA’s many efforts to spark and renew interest in boosting the general aviation pilot population. Baker, Experimental Aircraft Association CEO and Chairman of the Board Jack Pelton, and AOPA Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs Jim Coon took questions from the audience.

The next AOPA Regional Fly-In is set for Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 at Prescott, Arizona’s Ernest A. Love Field. And if Battle Creek is any indicator, high and dry Prescott should easily hit a high mark in attendance and enthusiasm. So far, 37,460 aviation-minded people have been to AOPA Regional Fly-Ins since they began in 2014. Will we break the 40,000 mark on Oct. 1? Seems like a safe bet, and we look forward to seeing you there.

Thomas A. Horne

Thomas A. Horne

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
Topics: AOPA Events, Fly in

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