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EAA, Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-In Sign Sponsorship Agreement

Event Celebrates Its 44th Anniversary On September 6-7

The Experimental Aircraft Association announced Thursday it has signed an agreement with the Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-In (MERFI), one of the nation's oldest recreational aviation events, intended to bring higher visibility to the MERFI event.. while also clearly defining EAA's role in the popular fly-in.

EAA tells ANN the agreement underscores the shared missions of MERFI, which is celebrating its 44th anniversary in 2008, and the 170,000-member international organization. Under the agreement, EAA will provide extensive promotion and coverage of MERFI, and also serve as a major sponsor of aviation educational activities such as forums and workshops during the event, among other considerations.

EAA has signed a number of similar agreements with other fly-ins this year, following a significant change to its policies regarding the organization's support -- whether direct, or implied -- of regional events, many of which freely used 'EAA' in their names.

As ANN reported, the change came following a $10.5 million judgment against EAA and the Arlington Fly-In, regarding a July 1999 takeoff accident at the event. The EAA was hit with the bulk of that amount... despite seemingly overwhelming evidence, including the NTSB's Probable Cause report, that the accident was the result of a departure stall, and was in no way due to any actions on the part of EAA or fly-in organizers.

In the past, EAA arranged for insurance coverage for regional fly-ins as part of its overall av-insurance plan. Regional organizers would then reimburse EAA for their portion of insurance costs -- meaning, in essence, fly-ins benefited from paying the EAA's rates.

Under the new agreement, regional fly-in events must secure their own insurance. EAA also takes pains to note the event is owned and operated by Arlington Fly-In, an organization that is independent of EAA. The organization does not own or control any part of the event or organizing body.

"This agreement provides an outstanding framework to ensure the future success of MERFI, confirms its organizational independence and highlights EAA's support for grassroots aviation events throughout the country," said Adam Smith, EAA's vice president of membership. "We have set the stage for success in our shared missions, which is to promote recreational aviation in all its forms."

The new agreement will be in place just in time for this year's MERFI on September 6-7 at Urbana, OH.

"We very much appreciate that EAA is continuing to support our event through its sponsorship," said Pam Fonseca of the Mid-Eastern Fly-In Corporation, which organizes and administers the long-running event.

MERFI's organizers moved the fly-in to Grimes Field (I74) at Urbana this year, near both Columbus and Dayton, and the new location features plenty of room for aircraft camping and parking. Other features include a B-17 restoration shop, the Grimes Flying Lab Museum, youth activities, a morning pancake breakfast each day and an on-field café and restaurant.

FMI: www.merfi.com, www.eaa.org

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