Have you made it out to one of the regional Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) fly-in events yet? If the answer is no, then you need to change that, soon! With three more events plus the homecoming event at Fredrick, MD coming up in October, you still have a handful of opportunities to make it happen.
Those of you that are regular readers of ReviewBeforeFlight know that AOPA has been the topic of a couple of my posts during the past few months, posts such as:
-“New Regional AOPA Fly-Ins: A High Flying Opportunity” Posted 1/7/14, this was my initial reaction to the announcement of the regional fly-in events to replace the singular national summit event…
-“Getting to know Sean Collins, AOPA Eastern Regional Manager!” Posted 1/31/14, this update introduced the readership to the AOPA Eastern Regional Manager, Sean, who does so much for aviation in the northeast United States!
-“AOPA is Increasing Membership Dues, is it Still WORTH it?” Posted 6/12/14, I expressed my dissatisfaction with the alignment between AOPA’s marketing efforts and the seminar offerings at the regional events. However, the main message of this post was to encourage AOPA members to retain their memberships at the higher rates. Additionally, I stressed that non-members should become members soon based on the enormous value of an AOPA membership for a General Aviation (GA) pilot!
The point of today’s post is to explain that AOPA has “knocked it out of the park,” with their regional events. Yesterday (Saturday, July 12th) was the northeast US regional event at the Plymouth Municipal Airport. Was it perfect? …No. The first run of anything rarely is. But, it was absolutely fantastic and Mark Barker, the President of AOPA assured the crowd of his Town Hall Meeting that there would be another round of regional events next year. With each passing year I believe that the event will get better and develop into a bigger celebration of aviation. I personally can’t wait for the 2015 event!
Over the years, I have spent many hours at the Plymouth Airport and yesterday was by far the busiest day I have ever experienced at KPYM. With hundreds of aircraft arriving and departing and thousands of visitors, the number of aviation enthusiasts that came out for the event blew me away. Approximately 50 aircraft had pilots & passengers sleeping under their wings Friday night before the event on Saturday, a very unique part of the event!
The static aircraft displays were very diverse, everything from Mike Goulian’s Cirrus aircraft to an Eclipse jet (pictured far below). From a Bridgewater State University Cessna 172 to Mark Baker’s own Cessna 208 Caravan on floats (pictured below), the ramp was packed with display aircraft. A beautifully restored Lockheed Electra (also pictured below) welcomed arriving pilots as they made their was from the general aircraft parking areas onto the static display ramp…
The AOPA tent was packed with staff representing all of their offerings. One of the things that really impressed me was the sheer number of AOPA employees on hand for the event, very cool to see… I made it a point to seek out the representatives from the Air Safety Foundation (ASF) to give them my extremely positive feedback about their new eFIRC (electronic Flight Instructor Renewal Course). Over the past couple of weeks I have been completing my CFI renewal with the new program. It was a breeze to use on my laptop and my iPad. I wanted to say thank you for simplifying the process. Previously, with the AOPA/Jeppesen partnered/sponsored online CFI renewal the ending paperwork was cumbersome and required seeking out a Notary Public to certify the items before mailing them in for review. The new system allows for simply scanning one’s CFI certificate and photo ID, with everything being completed online. It is incredibly simple and easy to use. I’d highly recommend the AOPA ASF eFIRC to anyone looking to renew their CFI!
The vendor tent, again was loaded with booths of various businesses and charities. My only less-than-completly-positive comment on the event was that the vendors were extremely limited. But again, this is “go one,” if you will. Next year the addition of another vendor tent, representing 36 more vendor booth spaces will definitely be in order and I think make for a better event for the guests. It was great to see MassDOT Aeronautics, ForeFlight, Bridgewater State University Aviation and the dozens of other exhibitors.
I also have to say that MassDOT Aeronautics gets a nod for having the most creative trade show booth give away I have ever seen, with their fruit bags, no I’m not kidding! I’ll tweet out a picture of the creative give-aways soon (make sure you follow me <@MTElia1B9> on Twitter to see the extremely creative items!)
At quarter past noon, the airport closed and Mike Goulian took to the skies. Mike did a great air show ruotine for the crowd, complete with a couple of inverted high-speed passes down the runway! Mike’s performance was definitely the icing on the cake of a great day. After watching the air show run, I made another pass through the static display ramp and vendor tent. I also ventured out into the general aircraft parking area to see just how many airplanes there were at KPYM (picture above).
AOPA definitely got a win with this event and I look forward to the regional event next year! The Town Hall Meeting at the end of the event was a great finale, President Mark Baker and Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins gave great talks and Mark spent quite a bit of time answering member questions on important issues such as the third-class medical exemption and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). As I said, if you haven’t been to one of AOPA’s regional events yet this year, make an effort to get to one of the upcoming events across the country and see all of the great things that AOPA is doing! I’m already excited for the bigger and better AOPA regional fly-in events (version 2.0) next year!
-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9
One last thing, hats off to all of the pilots that flew in & out of KPYM yesterday, a very safe day at the airport. At one point there were two aircraft rolling out with 9 (yes 9) others on final… Great work to all!