AOPA members have sent a loud, clear message that the 16 AOPA Regional Fly-ins attended by 44,000 people and 6,000 aircraft since the events began in 2014 have been a huge success.
And on the subject of what they want to see for the coming AOPA pilot gatherings that bring aviation devotees together for entertainment and to advance their knowledge and skills, the response can be summed up as, “Give us more.”
For the first time, the fly-ins in 2017 will go forward as full two-day events offering more experiences, more hands-on education, more quality time spent learning with world-class presenters, more opportunities for pilots to connect with fellow aviators from their region, and more ideas for making the aircraft they love a centerpiece of their friendships and relationships.
“We listened to you—and you said you wanted more,” said Chris Eads, AOPA director of outreach and events.
Changing the format won’t affect ever-popular AOPA Fly-In features like the always sold-out Friday night Barnstormers Party, the exhibit hall, AOPA Village, or aircraft displays.
The more than two dozen free Saturday workshops on ever-popular skills and safety subjects including the exciting new BasicMed medical certification rule that will take effect May 1, also will be on the agenda as usual, as will the always impressive lineup of world-class presenters.
Here’s what’s new: An exciting Friday schedule that gives pilots a chance to attend one of four seven-hour workshops (at a cost of $105 for members, $155 for nonmembers, and $75 for spouses, with online pre-registration required) offering what Eads describes as “an intensive, deep dive” into hands-on, experiential learning on selected vital topics.
Pilots interested in attending the Friday sessions can arrive Thursday afternoon and camp out. Then head for the pavilion that hosts the workshop of your choice, including Skills and Safety, You Can Fly, Aviation Experience, or Maintenance and Ownership. Lunch is included in the workshops’ cost. All four workshops will be available on the Friday of each Fly-In at Camarillo, California, April 28 and 29; Norman, Oklahoma, Sept. 8 and 9; Groton, Connecticut, Oct. 6 and 7; and Tampa, Florida, Oct. 27 and 28, except on Sept. 8 in Norman, when a seminar on weather, including a tour of the National Weather Service, will take the place of the Skills and Safety workshop.
Pilots and their partners who choose to attend the Friday workshop about Skills and Safety will join renowned mountain flying specialist Lori MacNichol and AOPA Pilot Editor-at-Large Thomas A. Horne, who will share lessons learned from his extensive experience with long-range overwater flight in general aviation aircraft. Learn the skills necessary to fly safely in those challenging environments, and find out what items these experts suggest you should have on hand to survive after a forced landing in mountainous terrain or after a ditching at sea.
“You will learn how to flight plan and to be oriented and prepared so that you won’t be seeing all this for the first time in an actual emergency,” Eads said.
Pilots want more chances for hands-on training—and this workshop provides it: You will gather around a GA airplane and pull a life raft out of storage. Deploy it, fill it with air, and don your personal flotation device in a real time run-through of a ditching emergency.
“Most pilots have never pulled a life raft out of an airplane, or ever inflated one,” Eads said. This dynamic training experience can’t fail to boost your confidence the next time you fly.
If you are an IFR pilot who has not dusted off those hard-earned skills in a while, head for the You Can Fly Pavilion the Friday of any 2017 AOPA Fly-In for a refresher workshop with presenters from Rainier Flight Service, based in Seattle, Washington. Rainier’s motto is “Safety First,” and they look forward to putting their thousands of hours of flight instructing experience to work getting you back in your cockpit as pilot in command under instrument flight rules.
“Pilot Plus One” is the theme of the workshop to be held at the Aviation Experience Pavilion. It will combine a safety overview with great tips for making your aircraft a centerpiece of your relationship through travel, aerial photography, and more.
Find fun and learning for both of you in this clinic that builds on the “Pinch Hitter” concept. During the half of the session dedicated to how nonpilots can be a big help to a pilot during flight, Jolie Lucas and Jan Maxwell are sure to excite nonpilots about flying with their "Right Seat Ready" safety briefing for pilots’ companions. Earth-rounding pilot, motivational speaker, and author Robert DeLaurentis will share ways that someone who is apprehensive about flying can overcome fear and unleash their aviation potential.
When it comes to sharing ways to use your aircraft to discover new and interesting destinations, nobody does it better than George Kounis, publisher of Pilot Getaways magazine. Join him for the portion of Pilot Plus One dedicated to traveling and enjoying your aircraft. Taking breathtaking aerial photographs is a big part of that activity for many pilots and passengers. Learn how from Jim Koepnick, an award-winning photographer and photojournalist.
Any pilot who is serious about safely enjoying everything a GA aircraft has to offer will soon resolve to become a partner—and eventually, the manager—of the maintenance of that aircraft. If taking a serious step into that realm has been on your to-do list, but you never knew how, this year’s AOPA pilot gatherings will have the solution when aviation adventurer Adrian Eichhorn and A&P mechanic with inspection authorization Mike Busch host their workshop in Maintenance and Ownership. Paul New also will join Eichhorn and Busch in this robust presentation to discuss leading your annual inspection.
This kind of learning can be a major turning point in your ownership of an aircraft. Instead of just handing the keys to the shop when there’s maintenance to be performed, find out the answer to the question: “What can I, the aircraft owner, do to help out?”
You and your fellow attendees will enjoy a hands-on session that takes you to a new level of awareness and knowledge of the mechanical needs of your aircraft, from helping change the oil of an actual aircraft to cleaning and gaping spark plugs and examining the insides of an aircraft engine to determine its health.
“If you understand what a mechanic is doing, you can become a better manager of the process,” Eads said.
The workshop will include a question-and-answer session dedicated to answering the question on every pilot’s mind before every flight: “Is this airplane safe to fly?”
All the new-for-2017 workshops have been created to identify aspects of flying and aircraft ownership where pilots lack, but strongly desire, more information and experience.
Some sessions may take you into areas well outside your comfort zone—but can there be a better way to explore those realms than under the guidance of world-class presenters, in the company of 50 or so other pilots from your area, allowing you to grow in confidence together and form long-lasting bonds of friendship?
And don’t forget that the free clinics on tap each Fly-In Saturday will bring you up to date on the most important matters of interest for any GA pilot flying today—and introduce a few new ones.
Gary Crump, director of the AOPA Pilot Information Center Medical Certification Section, will brief pilots on BasicMed, the long-awaited rule announced by the FAA Jan.10 that will allow many pilots to fly without a third class medical certificate.
AOPA Pilot Technical Editor Mike Collins will bring members up to date on the mandate to install Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out (ADS-B Out) equipment in aircraft by Jan. 1, 2020, if you plan to fly in airspace where a transponder is now required. His briefing will include an update on the $500 rebate the FAA has offered for early installation of ADS-B.
Barry Schiff, retired airline pilot, author, and aviation media consultant, will share stories and lessons from “Sixty-five Years of Flying.”
Catherine Cavagnaro, a renowned flight instructor and aerobatic pilot, will take up a critical flight-safety topic when she presents a workshop on how to avoid loss of control.
The Drone Experience is a new offering for 2017, with Kat Swain, AOPA senior director of UAS programs, pilot, business executive, and a pioneer in the use of drones in business, pulling back the curtain on this fast-emerging segment of aviation.
As always, AOPA’s ever-popular Rusty Pilot seminars will be offered to help pilots who have been idle too long get back in the cockpit safely and with confidence.
AOPA is confident that you will find the additions to the 2017 Fly-In lineups, along with the popular offerings you have come to expect, just what the doctor ordered to keep the fun and learning coming while bringing you closer to other members of your area’s aviation community.