Northwest Aviation Show prepares for takeoff

Special to General Aviation News from the Washington Aviation Association

Just when the short winter days and grounded planes become too much to bear for aviators at the end of February, there’s a sign of happier airborne days ahead. For many, the annual Northwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show marks the end of winter in the Northwest.

The 29th annual Northwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show will be held Feb. 25-26 at the Blue Gate of the Western Washington Fairgrounds in Puyallup, Wash.

Nearly three decades strong, the event is bigger and better each year. What began as a small collection of booths hosted during a day of safety seminars has grown and flourished into a much-anticipated gathering that fills a 122,000-square-foot exhibit hall and boasts a packed schedule including more than 75 hours of educational and entertaining aviation seminars.

Each year, more than 12,000 aviation enthusiasts and their families flock through the Blue Gate to be educated, inspired and, ultimately, rekindle their dream to fly.

The Northwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show is hosted by the Washington Aviation Association (WAA), a 501(c) nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of aviation businesses in the Northwest. The event provides a venue for aviation businesses and customers to network and showcase technological advances in the industry.

The ever-changing economic climate has encouraged the event organizers to adopt an innovative approach to capturing the most benefit for the entire industry. Over the last 29 years, the event has established a solid reputation and following of vendors, speakers and attendees.

In 2012, once again, there is a dedicated effort to approach all the aviation organizations and businesses and encourage them to be involved in the event. The WAA position has been to put out the word: Let’s work together and we’ll make it happen!

The efforts have proven effective, by calling upon the entire aviation community to be invited. The participation list reads like a cryptic code: AEA, AOPA, CPA, EAA, FAA, SPA, WAA, WIA, WPA, WSDOT, and RAF, to name just a few. This translates into a core group of dedicated organizations that have the same goal in mind: Promoting aviation and ensuring its future!

The energy doesn’t stop there. Not to be overlooked are local and national aviation businesses that have contributed their valuable marketing dollars to support the show and promote their products. Each year more businesses see the value in showcasing at the show and supporting this event.


The Northwest Aviation Conference is made possible with the support and guidance of the aviation community. We hope that you will take the time to recognize our sponsors.

Newest supporters in 2012 are Horizon Air and Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Company ­— both at the Silver Sponsor level — and the Seaplane Pilots Association as an industry partner.

Thank you to the continued sponsors: Pacific Coast Avionics, General Aviation News, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Trade-A-Plane, Seattle Avionics Software, Wipaire, Spencer Aircraft, Lightspeed, King County Airport, SIM Flight Center, and Clear, providing event-wide free wireless broadband.


The pilot seminars will cover many facets of the industry, including workshops on: Helicopters, seaplanes, ultralights, mountain and IFR flying, weather training, and navigation software.

Much appreciated are the presentations from JJ Greenway, Chief Flight Instructor and Safety Director of the AOPA Air Safety Institute.

Many of these seminars are eligible for FAA Wings Credit.


New this year, AOPA ASI will be presenting a Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic (FIRC) onsite at the Northwest Aviation Conference. The clinic will be hosted on Friday and Saturday in the North Foyer. CFIs can register online at A registration fee payable to AOPA does apply. The event occurs outside regular trade show hours.

For the last four years we have been honored to provide a free FAA-approved IA refresher clinic designed especially for this event. The eight hours include updated information and a varied line-up of speakers for mechanics and aircraft owners. Attendance satisfies the requirement of FAR 65.93(a)(4). Pre-register at This year’s course includes presentations from engine manufacturers to Poly Fiber fabric covering.


Returning as a keynote speaker on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 1 p.m. is Craig Fuller, president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. This is Craig’s third visit to the event.

He will be addressing issues that directly affect how you fly now and into the future. With his extensive Washington experience, he’ll offer insights into what the 2012 election means for general aviation and talk about new initiatives designed to help protect our freedom to fly.

Much anticipated for 2012 are the daily presentations from the ever-entertaining and educating keynote speaker, Rod Machado. Machado is a pilot and renown author of aviation flight training materials. Many will recognize him as the instructor that teaches the player how to fly an airplane in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

In addition, plan for presentations from the FAA, NASA, WPA, and 99’s Flying Companions Seminar, as well as topics including aviation heroes, aircraft insurance, medical issues, and aviation law.


If you have a moment between taking in all these great speakers, be sure to visit all the amazing exhibits and displays.

The Showplex Exhibit Hall accommodates more than 400 booths, with areas brimming with static aircraft and museum displays, as well as the keynote speaker area with seating up to 1,000.


On Feb. 25, in appreciation for continued member and attendee support, the Northwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show will host the Spirit of Aviation Awards Banquet. Catered by the Ram Restaurant, the meal will include a “Carved Triple Play Buffet” including turkey, honey glazed ham and Midwest roast beef.

Hosted at the newly renovated reception area across the courtyard from the Showplex entrance, doors will open following the close of the show on Saturday, with dinner beginning at 6:15 p.m. From 5:30 to dinner, beverages will be hosted by the Northwest’s own Aviation Gin presented by House Spirits Distillery. The evening’s entertainment will feature a humorous “lighter” presentation from Rod Machado.

Tickets for the event are $40 a person or $35 each with a purchase of two or more. Seating is limited to 150. Please call the WAA at 866-922-7469 for reservations.

The WAA will present awards to members of the community who have made a considerable contribution to aviation. Award nominations are welcome. If you know someone who is deserving of recognition, please email the WAA at


Also new this year, the association has negotiated an event rate for attendees and exhibitors at the nearby newly built Hampton Inn (a Hilton property). At a substantial discount of $95 per room, our host hotel is located just two blocks from the Blue Gate. Reservations include a full breakfast, Internet, warm cookies, a DVD library, and a gift for aviation guests upon arrival. There is also free parking and an indoor pool and fitness room. Mention the “Northwest Aviation Conference” to reserve our special rate!

If you are flying into Thun Field/Pierce County Airport (PLU), take advantage of the free shuttle to the event offered Saturday and Sunday by Spencer Aircraft and SIM Flight Center.


The 29th Annual Northwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show will be held Feb. 25-26 at the Blue Gate of the Western Washington Fairgrounds in Puyallup. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 per person for those over 16 years of age. Parking is free in the Blue Lot.

Fly-in attendees can land at Pierce County Airport (PLU), where there are additional functions, free refreshments, and daily free shuttles to the event provided by Spencer Aircraft and SIM Flight Center. SIM Flight Center also will be offering discounted fuel during this event to all pilots who fuel up during the show.

For directions, schedules and more information, go to or call toll-free 866-922-7469.


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