AOPA Summit: By the numbers

Nearly 10,000 pilots and aviation enthusiasts gathered in Long Beach, California, Nov. 11-13, for the 2010 AOPA Aviation Summit to hear from industry leaders, see the latest and greatest, from aircraft to engines and avionics to pilot supplies, and to attend more than 60 hours of educational forums. Hundreds more from the local community came out to see the planes on display at Airportfest, which was free and open to the public.

Just before 9 a.m. on Nov. 11, AOPA President Craig Fuller opened the doors to the 2010 Aviation Summit with Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, welcoming hundreds who stood in line to be among the first to enter the exhibit hall.

“We tried a number of exciting new things at Summit this year and audience response was terrific,” said Fuller. “We expanded our coverage on AOPA Live and had pilots tuning in and sending their questions from, literally, all over the world. We enjoyed new social events like the block party and Airport Fest barbecue. And we offered new forums on subjects ranging from wellness to business use of your aircraft. As I walked the exhibit hall floor and visited Airportfest, there was a real sense of excitement.”

Registered attendance for the Summit was 9,746. 1,101 aircraft flew in for the three-day event. At Airportfest, 11,373 people – a mix of registered attendees and members of the local community – came out to get an up-close look at all the planes.

AOPA Live, a streaming feed from the AOPA Aviation Summit, expanded this year, offering five hours of live coverage each of the three days, and available on demand afterwards for those not able to watch during the day. This year, in addition to live interviews, AOPA Live include live remote coverage from the exhibit hall floor and Airportfest in order to really share the atmosphere.

AOPA Live also included the AOPA Awards Show, during which the association’s most prestigious awards were presented.

Victor Bird, Aeronautics Director for the State of Oklahoma, is the 2010 winner of the Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Award. The Hartranft Award is presented each year to an elected or appointed government official who has made significant contributions to the advancement of general aviation.

The 2010 Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award went to Marjy Leggett, a volunteer for AOPA’s Airport Support Network, for her efforts to protect her home airport, Vista Field in Kennewick, Washington. The Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award is presented annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to the advancement of general aviation.

Jolie Lucas won the Joseph Crotti Award for service to GA in California. The award is named for Joseph Crotti, longtime California State Aviation Director and AOPA Regional Representative for that state, and is given to a California resident who has demonstrated the same unbridled passion for promoting general aviation and protecting GA airports as Joe Crotti always did.

The Let’s Go Flying Award is presented annually to a person who has made significant efforts to draw new people into flying. This year it went to U.S. Marine Corps Captain Gabriel Glinsky for his efforts to organize and teach a ground school for his fellow unit members while on active duty in Afghanistan.

The old blended with the new at Airportfest this week, as visitors to Long Beach Airport/Daugherty Field got a chance to see a mix of aircraft, from pre-World War II vintage aircraft to today’s business jets, and everything in between.

Three days of beautiful weather brought throngs of people to the airport, where an array of more than 80 aircraft provided a chance to see how far aviation has advanced. Glass cockpit avionics, ballistic parachutes, and other safety features were on prominent display.

AOPA had not one, but two, sweepstakes aircraft on display: the 2010 Fun To Fly grand prize, a Remos GX light sport aircraft, the winner of which was announced during the show; and the 2011 Crossover Classic Sweepstakes refurbishment project, a 1974 Cessna 182 that already boasts its new 300-hp Continental engine.

Not surprisingly, one of the top attractions was FIFI, the Commemorative Air Force’s restored B-29. The trip to Long Beach from its home base in Texas was FIFI’s first long distance cross-country trip since undergoing extensive modifications to re-engine the last flying example of the legendary bomber.

The AOPA Aviation Summit culminated with the AOPA Foundation’s Night for Flight Benefit, which included an online silent auction that raised more than $250,000 for the foundation.

Exhibitors and members are already looking forward to next year’s AOPA Aviation Summit, to be held Sept. 22-24, 2011, in Hartford, Connecticut. More than 100 booths have already been reserved for next year by exhibitors at this year’s Aviation Summit.

“With its fantastic convention center and Brainard Airport only two miles away, Hartford is a great venue for us,” concluded Fuller. “We’re looking forward to another chance to come up and meet with our members in the Northeast.”

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  1. says

    Spending $40 to see a bunch of vendors is a rip off. I have been to NEPCON, CERS, and a bunch of other trade shows. Not only are they free they have a ton of displays and exhibts. The Long Beach show could not even fill out half the exhibition hall. AOPA should be ashamed of themselves.

    I love AOPA and have been a member for many years and taken advantage of many of their services. AOPA should rethink how and if they should do this every year.

  2. Fred A. Gray says

    This was my first attendance at an annual meeting since the new AOPA administration took office. On the assumption that you seek constructive criticism, I submit the following:
    My sense was that there were numerous “loose ends” that did not help the attendees. For example,
    –Having the main speakers on the trade show floor was a blunder. Attendees could not hear. There were repeated interruptions of the speakers. The noise of the trade show in the background was very distracting. And the presentations I attended had terrible lip sync between the speakers’ words and the audio.
    –Whoever set up the access time to the exhibits (9:00 AM) and the program start on the main stage (9:00 AM)was heedless of the time needed to get into the show floor and back to the speakers’ area.
    –The outrageous cost of the Queen Mary event was ridiculous…OK for AOPA leadership and staff, but awful for the membership.
    –I heard many unsolicited criticisms of the overall coordination of the events by members.
    –My view was that the spirit of this event and the value to me has declined dramatically from the last three orfour I attended.
    –Finally, I have always felt that AOPA was one of the best managed associations I belonged to, but my impression is that this is no longer the case. It seems now that less attention is given to members and more to the politics and celebrities of general aviation.

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