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AOPA Fly-Ins: Wild About The WacoAOPA Fly-Ins: Wild About The Waco

Tampa fly-in showcases great aircraft

The sun sets behind a Waco biplane on amphibious floats during the 2017 AOPA Tampa Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.

Waco Aircraft Co. president Peter Bowers took to the crystal-blue skies of Tampa, Florida, to showcase his company’s latest YMF–5F on amphibious floats, performing four demonstration flights during the final AOPA Fly-In of 2017. The Waco was one of 56 aircraft on display at the fly-in, during which 5,478 attendees enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow pilots and terrific Florida weather. Basking in the 78-degree-Fahrenheit sunshine were a Tecnam P2006T Rotax-powered twin, an AirCam, a Mooney Ovation Ultra, the Veteran’s Airlift Command’s Eclipse 500, a Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet, a Diamond DA42-V1, a Cessna TTx, a TBM 930, and even the late astronaut John Glenn’s 1981 Beechcraft Baron B58.

The Icon A5 was prominent, with Icon Aircraft’s Tampa facility located on the field at Peter O. Knight Airport. “We did 35 demo flights in two days, with each flight featuring at least one water landing,” said Icon sales representative Ryan Arndt.

The aircraft camping area at the airport may have been the most picturesque yet for an AOPA Fly-In. Camping was right along the water—the airport is situated on the tip of Davis Islands—with a view of the Tampa skyline in the distance.

AOPA Fly-Ins are now two-day events and the Friday workshop sessions proved especially popular, as some 2,400 attendees arrived on that day alone. For John Creedon, owner of a Piper Comanche 260, the event was his first-ever regional fly-in. “I came for the IFR Refresher workshop on Friday and the ADS-B seminar on Saturday,” he said. “I learned a lot and really appreciated the great work by the AOPA staff and the nice, friendly atmosphere of the entire event.”

AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker and AOPA senior staffers reviewed AOPA’s principal political and other goals during Saturday’s Town Hall. The emphasis was on preventing ATC “privatization,” which would turn over air traffic control to a nonprofit entity controlled by the airlines.

Baker updated the audience on egregious pricing by certain fixed-base operators, reporting that AOPA had received some 800 member complaints about exorbitant ramp and other fees. AOPA has filed complaints regarding pricing at some airports and has begun advising airports on ensuring fair access for all pilots.

Wrapping up the day was the traditional award to the pilot who flew the farthest to attend the fly-in. The award went to James McCague, who flew his Cessna 182 Skylane 983 nautical miles from his base at Alliston Airport in Ontario, Canada.


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