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Fri, Mar 21, 2008

EAA Signs New Agreement With Arlington Fly-In Organizers

'NWEAA' No More, But Will Continue To Support Event Through Promotion, Forums

It will still be the same fly-in as before -- one of the most enjoyable recreational aviation events in country -- but it now has a new name. In keeping with its new policy shunning implied sponsorship of regional fly-ins, the Experimental Aircraft Association announced this week it has signed a new working agreement with the Arlington Fly-In.

The new agreement means the event will no longer include "EAA" in its name (the show's former, formal name was the Northwest EAA Fly-In, though nearly everybody referred to it as 'Arlington')... but for all intents and purposes, EAA will continue to maintain most of its support for the show. Under the agreement, EAA will provide extensive promotion and coverage of the Arlington Fly-In, and also serve as a major sponsor of aviation educational activities such as forums and workshops during the event, among other considerations.

"This agreement provides an outstanding framework to ensure the future success of the Arlington Fly-In, 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 two organizations had operated under a more informal agreement over the past 20 years, which did not provide specific definitions of each group's commitments and responsibilities. The EAA says the new agreement -- which is in place for Arlington's upcoming 40th Anniversary fly-in, on July 9-13 -- "reflects the evolving aviation community in the 21st century."

That statement carries with it both positive and negative undertones. As ANN reported, the EAA announced in December 2007 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. The change came following a $10.5 million judgment against EAA, the fly-in, and the city of Arlington, regarding a July 1999 takeoff accident at the event.

The EAA was hit with the bulk of that amount, despite seemingly overwhelming evidence -- including eyewitness accounts, and the NTSB's Probable Cause report -- the accident was the result of a departure stall, and was in no way due to any actions on the part of EAA... fly-in organizers... city or county personnel... in essence, no one but the pilot of the RV-6A, who, sadly, was lost in the crash.

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, Arlington -- and other 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.

Despite the legalistic maneuvering, Barbara Tolbert, executive director of the Arlington Fly-In, says the new agreement's benefits will likely outweigh the minuses in the end.

"This agreement offers the Arlington Fly-In a new, higher level of support from EAA in areas that reflect our mutual goals," Tolbert said. "This is a clear indication of EAA's support for these major fly-in events and gives each of our organizations the direction to make this event even better for those who have a passion for flight."

One of the benefits of the new agreement involves the use of EAA Judging Standards in Arlington's aircraft awards program. The group will also host two EAA SportAir Workshops on the fly-in grounds at other times of the year.

Along with the increased visibility and promotion of the Arlington Fly-In, EAA will have a major presence at the event to provide member services, host forums, and encourage its members to serve as volunteers at the fly-in.

FMI: www.arlingtonflyin.org, www.eaa.org

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