New digs, new optimism at Northwest Aviation Conference

The combination of a new building, an increase in the number of exhibitors and an expanded activity area for children contributed to the electricity in the air at the 2006 Northwest Aviation Conference held in Puyallup, Wash., the weekend of Feb. 25. Part trade show and part educational seminar, the show attracted between 12,000 and 14,000 visitors, according to Rachel Hansen, the show’s coordinator.

The larger space allowed for the indoor display of several aircraft and the North American Eagle project, a jet-powered car made from an F-104.

A few dozen feet away from the Eagle, children built model aircraft, flew Microsoft Flight Simulators and learned about the four forces of flight through a variety of hands-on activities under the watchful eyes of parents and volunteers.

The character of the show may be changing, said Hansen, noting that several people who were looking for jobs visited representatives from exhibitor Horizon Airlines.

“The ones that were qualified got appointments for interviews,” she said, adding that other airlines had expressed an interest in talking to job seekers next year.

This year there was no entrance fee for the show, said Hansen, because of the generosity of several sponsors. One of the sponsors, Spencer Aircraft, also ran a shuttle service from the local GA airport to the fairgrounds for the pilots who elected to fly in.

Next year’s show is slated for the last weekend of February.

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