About 2,600 people and nearly 300 airplanes descended on Salinas Municipal Airport in California for the first Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Fly-In of the year held Saturday, May 16.
Low clouds and icing in the surrounding mountains weren’t enough to deter pilots, hundreds of whom decided to drive to Salinas, AOPA officials noted.
As part of the fly-in, more than 750 people attended a special Friday night screening of “Living in the Age of Airplanes,” a film by pilot and AOPA member Brian J. Terwilliger, who also made the cult GA film “One Six Right.”
The new movie, which is being released in IMAX at theaters nationwide, tells the story of how modern aviation has changed our world and drew praise from the audience of pilots and aviation enthusiasts.
It was screened as part of an evening Barnstormer Party, the first in a series of Friday night events added to the AOPA Fly-In schedule for 2015. A second screening with be held June 5 at the AOPA Homecoming Fly-In in Frederick, Maryland.
Early arrivals on Saturday enjoyed a traditional fly-in breakfast of pancakes and sausage, while nearly 100 fly-in participants attended a Rusty Pilots seminar designed to help lapsed pilots return to the air. Attendees earned credit for the ground portion of the flight review. Since Rusty Pilots was launched just over a year ago, more than 100 seminars have been held for some 3,600 attendees.
Admission to the AOPA Fly-Ins is free, and throughout the day guests visited more than 100 exhibits and aircraft displays, participated in educational seminars on topics ranging from mountain flying to aviation humor with Rod Machado, and enjoyed the company of fellow aviation enthusiasts.
At an afternoon Pilot Town Hall, AOPA President Mark Baker offered an update on critical issues affecting general aviation. Describing the aviation environment as an ecosystem that’s dependent on aviators, airplanes and airports, Baker emphasized the importance of growing and strengthening the GA community. He also brought the audience up to date on third-class medical reform and FAA reauthorization.
EAA Chairman Jack Pelton joined Baker on stage to emphasize the importance of cooperation when it comes to making sure the voice of the general aviation community is heard in Washington, D.C.
AOPA Vice President of Government Affairs Melissa Rudinger also joined Baker to talk about the latest developments regarding lower-cost ADS-B solutions and regulations affecting commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). And AOPA Western Pacific Regional Manager Melissa McCaffrey offered an update on California legislation as well as the recent formation of a General Aviation Caucus in the state legislature.
Following the Pilot Town Hall, attendees took part in a free ice cream social in the sold-out exhibit hall where they shopped for everything from software and headsets to simulators and airplanes.
Four more AOPA Fly-Ins are scheduled for 2015. They are set for June 6 at AOPA’s Frederick, Maryland, headquarters, as well as Aug. 22 in Minneapolis; Sept. 26 in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Oct. 10 in Tullahoma, Tennessee.