ANCHORAGE – When the Alaska Airmen’s Association changed the name of its May event to the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering, I have to admit I sighed. I’d grown used to the Alaska State Aviation Conference & Trade Show.
But as I walked the massive FedEx hangar at Ted Stevens International Airport the first weekend of May during the “Gathering,” I overheard many exclaim, “Great to see you…,” “I haven’t seen you since last year…,” and “What have you been up to?…”
That’s when it hit me…this event IS a gathering, not merely a conference and trade show.
A few hundred 10×10 indoor displays, a half-dozen or so airplanes inside and a few dozen more outside made for a nice weekend event.
Saturday morning’s snow shower did little to keep the crowds away, but I did feel bad for the folks standing outside.
Sunday brought clear skies and cool temperature. While there weren’t any military static aircraft, FedEx and UPS made some “big iron” available and a nice handful of manufacturers showed their wares to all comers.
While I’m sad I didn’t win the Husky the Airmen’s Association raffled off, I’m thrilled I made the trek back up to Anchorage. I’ll bet I heard, nearly a dozen times, “thank you for coming up to Alaska and the show,” or words to that effect. That’s what sets the Gathering, in my mind, apart from the myriad other shows I attend.
If you’ve never been to Alaska, Anchorage is a great place to visit, and a perfect jumping off point for exploration.
Make a note of it, the next Great Alaska Aviation Gathering is already scheduled for May 3-4, 2014.