Notes from NBAA: Good show!

Living legend Bob Hoover was undoubtedly the star of the show.

The National Business Aircraft Association show made it into the Orlando Convention Center unscathed Oct. 30-Nov. 1 despite an on-again/off-again Presidential TFR, turmoil from Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast and economic headwinds in the industry. Show attendance looked thin but official numbers said otherwise. Along with multi-million dollar jets, more everyday GA was on display. And while one hero was to be remembered, a second often took the honors wherever he went.

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What a way to see an airshow!

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I’ve been to many airshows – enough to pass on most theses days. But this October in Daytona Beach, Florida, a remarkable beachfront airshow pulled me in. Here, you can literally drive all the way into the show, park right on the show line and watch from your car on the beach.

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Bowling alone

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The new flying club proposal from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is news, but the association has tried it before. Moreover, Americans generally (pilots in particular) are individualists – even more so recently, says a unique thesis titled “Bowling Alone.” But now GA’s survival is at issue, or at least the ability of “average Americans” to fly. Can new flying clubs help save GA?

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Katama still beckons for fall flying

Can’t fly there? Try the (seasonal) biplane ride! Photo by Kyle Wagman

Summer has ended but great fall flying beckons. One of America’s best summer places also shines in autumn, so pilots in the Northeast will still make their way to Katama Airfield on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard. The air is now clear and cool, the tourist hordes are gone and the prices — thank God — are now at least off-peak.

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General aviation goes to the political conventions

Just a portion of the crowd at the AOPA/NBAA convention-watch party in Tampa. At left, NBAA President Ed Bolen.

For the first time, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the National Business Aviation Association teamed to hold events at the two national party conventions. The goal: Schmoozing politicos to hold high the flag of general aviation.

I attended the first, at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday, Aug. 28, to see if AOPA held to its long-time non-partisanship — and to see if anyone would show up!

Boy did they. By 6 p.m., the place was packed. [Read more…]

The evolution of AOPA Live

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Many associations and news organizations are producing video news and features – some even in the TV news format – now that the Internet has solved distribution issues. But since the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) pioneered an in-house news show in the 1980s, critical viewers found most early efforts painful. Will the online news-format aviation TV show now succeed in the age of Internet videos?

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Will Generation Y be pilots?

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Several recent, seemingly unrelated reports pose issues in our hopes for a new generation of pilots. Boeing’s July announcement that half a million airline pilots will be needed worldwide by 2031 made big news. But many of us have heard such news before. And this time, there are new caveats and wrinkles.

One that caught my eye was a Frontier Group study “Transportation and the New Generation” cited in MOTOR TREND. It said the share of 14- to 34-year-olds without a driver’s license was up to 26% in 2010 from 21%  in 2000. MOTOR TREND worries that young people are weaning themselves from cars and driving. Compared to the mechanically minded “motorhead” generations of yore, this could be more than just a trend toward big-city mass transit or close-in suburban living. At the least, it’s a symptom of generational poor incomes and gas prices that affect flying and flight training, too.

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Are aviation events storm ready?

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Amidst this year’s airshow season and continuing extreme/destructive weather, I wonder if aviation events are fully prepared. The National Weather Service’s Storm Ready program can help event organizers minimize weather catastrophes like 2011’s SUN ’n FUN tornado or the multi-fatality Indiana State Fair stage collapse. But how many fly-ins and airshows are so prepared?

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