AOPA's Annual Fly-in and Open House
By Louis J Betti - DreamFleet 2000
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest non-profit aviation organization, with almost 400,000 members, and serves the interests of general aviation, both in the United States, and throughout the world, via its affiliated associations in the IAOPA. Yes, AOPA is strictly GA, and their mission, in part, is to keep general aviation" fun, safe and affordable", and I will also add the word "possible".
After the events of 9-11, even those members who may have taken AOPA for granted quickly came to realize the tremendous power this organization wields on behalf of its members. Without AOPA one can only imagine the draconian restrictions that could have been put in place to keep GA aircraft grounded, possibly long term. AOPA was there to educate, and fight ignorance throughout government, the general public, and even within the FAA. In short order, via unyielding pressure from AOPA president Phil Boyer and his staff, the skies were re-opened to GA, almost to the same extent that they were pre 9-11. With little doubt, a record turnout at their annual Fly-in and Open House was the membership's way of saying thanks to this fine organization.
Prior to 9-11, I was thinking about going back to flying for real again, and not let my 1500 hours go to waste. Immediately after 9-11 I had all but written off such thoughts. Within weeks, however, upon seeing the action AOPA was taking, and the results they were achieving, I saw it as my duty to return to my "first love", and that I have done; a show of support if you will, and I am most happy that I did. Now, if I could just get my old Piper back!
Having been a member of AOPA for over 27 years, it was the first time I attended this event, and am I glad I did! Not only was it fun and educational, but I also gained a renewed admiration and respect for AOPA, especially after meeting many of their staff members and touring their impressive facility. It made me very proud to know that I am a part of AOPA, part of a true family.
You do not need to be a pilot or aircraft owner to join AOPA, and for the very reasonable dues of just $39 per year, I strongly encourage all flight simulation enthusiasts to join, and support AOPA. Among the many services they offer is the monthly AOPA Pilot magazine, which is every bit the equal of any of the other popular aviation magazines. Membership in AOPA is truly an incredible value.
A visit to the AOPA web site will tell you all you need to know about their history, the various services they offer, and also up to date aviation news. It is a very active site, updated on a daily basis.
I flew out to Frederick from Caldwell-Essex, New Jersey (CDW) along with my friend, Bruno, in his 1971 Mooney M20E, a fast, well-equipped ship. Although the weather was VFR, we filed IFR, in hopes this would ease the arrival burden a bit. Well, it sort of did! Great credit goes to the controller at Baltimore who handled a heavy load with ease, even then a 1:20 flight still became a 2:00 flight, as we were slowed to 120 knots, asked to do 360s, and vectored in zigzags for spacing. Add to that a good 20 minutes on the ground at CDW waiting for release; it seemed that everyone was going to FDK! We shot the ILS into runway 23 then broke off at the outer marker for a right base for runway 30, overall an enjoyable and challenging flight, into an impeccable airport.
On the way home, with both of us baked from the unrelenting sun, notice that there would be a 20 minute delay for IFR clearances made the decision to drop the IFR clearance request, and depart VFR an easy one. We made a straight line for CDW, and Bruno was smart, he let me fly, knowing I'd have to deal with the early evening thermals and turbulence. Actually, I volunteered, as I knew Bruno had suffered more from the heat than I did. Hey, Bruno, how's your neck? Boy, it was mighty red last time I saw it!
For the remainder of this article I will present various photos that I made, along with appropriate descriptions.
|The Echo Flight booth was the only one we returned to twice, in order to closely examine their amazing "Flight Cheetah", shown here in optional vertical orientation. This unit does everything except wash the dishes, and I would dare say that its price of $5995 is very reasonable when it comes to these types of systems. Of course, you'll also pay an average of about $500 a year for database updates to it, as in real aviation updates to NAV data are not provided for free. To see what this amazing unit can do, visit their web site: http://www.echoflight.com/||Time for some cool air, so we made our way into the hospitable AOPA headquarters for a look around. This was really an open house, as much of the building was open for perusal. As you can see, I came appropriately dressed for the weather with my "Bermuda" outfit.||Now, this is too much! We stumbled on to the "Office of the President", which was wide open. We walked in, and were greeted by a member of AOPA staff. "Welcome. I'm sorry but Phil is not in right now, but you're welcome to have a look around". She was chatting with two other pilots, who were seated on Phil Boyer's sofa. "Would you mind if I took a picture of his desk?" I asked. "Go right ahead", she replied, "better yet, why don't you take photos of each of you seated behind it". That offer was too good to resist, and here is the result with Bruno, as "AOPA president for a minute".|
|That registration number says it all, the AOPA Citation. In some companies, shareholders might resent seeing the president in a big office with a fancy jet to fly around in, but Phil Boyer and his staff not only do an outstanding job, but they are almost constantly on the run, addressing issues wherever the need arises. For the job Phil and his staff does I would gladly let them double my dues, and if need be, buy a bigger jet! By the way, not to many corporate CEOs fly their own jets, but Phil flies his! You can learn more about Phil Boyer by going here: http://www.aopa.org/prez/||When Phil is not in his other office, you might find him in this one, the cockpit of 4GA.||A Cessna of a different kind.|
|Did they run this Cherokee 180 through "Text-o-Matic"? Bruno needs a new paint job on the Mooney, so we checked out Reese Aircraft, who does some exceptional work. If you are curious, the paint job on this 180 cost $11,000, and take about 3 weeks to accomplish.||FS2002 may have "Patty", but AOPA had "Nancy", as in the most-talented aerobatic pilot Nancy Lynn, who can also be seen on the Discovery Wings TV channel. Here, she is standing beside her Extra 300L, chatting with a future aerobatic student and his father. You can visit Nancy's web site here: www.lynnaviation.com/aerobatics/||One of the 825+ aircraft that showed up for the fly-in, and the particular one that brought us to the event, Bruno's 1971 M20E Chaparral. Bruno wanted me to take a shot of her so I could experiment with some new paint schemes for her. Now, if only I could do the paint scheme in Photo Shop, and we could run the Mooney through Text-o-Matic, I could save Bruno a fortune!|
|The flags fly in tribute to a truly great organization, as I extend my heartfelt thanks to Phil Boyer, and the dedicated staff of AOPA for providing for a wonderful event, and making Bruno and I feel like a part of the family.|